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Rogue FCU teen garners Googolplex contest award

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MADISON, Wis. (2/8/12)--A 16-year-old member of Rogue FCU in Medford, Ore., is this year's winner of the Googolplex Grand Prize photo contest.

Googolplex, a Credit Union National Association (CUNA) onlineEDGE online tool for youth, comprises three customizable sites for elementary, middle and high school students. It offers themed photo contests for the high school site, C-Note, which culminate with a $1,000 grand prize every year.

The grand prize-winning member, Chloe, submitted her photo "Welcome to Our Wetland" in the "School Daze" theme. Describing the photo, she says of her brand-new school that "what makes it amazing is it is built next to a wetland." Chloe captures the environment, adding, "The school and students made a choice to preserve the wetland and they made it part of our learning curriculum."

"I use Googolplex to learn new money-saving techniques or to read peoples' stories on how they make money," Chloe said. "I really appreciate Googolplex for putting on the contest. I've never won something this big and it was really fun to participate in."

Chloe submitted her photo through the $516 million asset Rogue FCU, which offers its young members resources and advice about how best to learn and plan their finances.

"The current C-Note photo contest theme is Furry Friends," said Rena Crispin, CUNA managing editor of Googolplex. "This should be an easy theme for young people whether they own a pet or not."

CUNA's editors choose contest themes based on suggestions from a nationwide teenage panel of student editors. C-Note invites photo entries by publicizing the contest in subscriber e-mails and on the front page of C-Note. Every seven weeks, the theme changes and a contestant wins $100. Once a year, all winning photos from the past 12 months' themes are open to a public vote, with the winner receiving $1,000.

Students may vote in Googolplex contests or submit their photos to different contest themes throughout the year by visiting C-Note, the high-school level of Googolplex, on their credit union's website and clicking on the photo contest display at the top right of the page or use the link.

To learn more about how Googolplex and other onlineEDGE tools benefit both credit unions and their members, use the links.

CU lending inches up says Fed report

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WASHINGTON (2/8/12)--Credit unions held $225.6 billion in total consumer credit in December, up slightly from $225.1 billion reported in November, according to the most recent Federal Reserve Statistical Release on consumer credit, issued Tuesday.

Credit union non-revolving credit accounted for $187.6 billion of the December total--down   from $188.1 billion in November.

Revolving credit at credit unions increased to $38 billion in December from $37.1 billion in November.

"For the second consecutive month, consumer credit expanded at a faster pace than expected due to rising consumer confidence and a strengthening labor market," Steve Rick, CUNA senior economist, told News Now. "Revolving credit rose $2.8 billion in December for all financial institutions, with credit unions providing $0.9 billion. Credit union credit-card balances rose 2.4% in December, the fastest pace since the 1.8% growth rate reported in December of 2010.

"It appears households have put on hold their deleveraging in order to satisfy some pent up demand for consumer durables," he added. "December's annualized consumer credit growth rate--9.3%--is not sustainable, due to slow wage growth and low national savings rates."

In the U.S., total consumer credit increased at annual rate of 7.5% in the fourth quarter.  Revolving credit rose at an annual rate of 4.5%, and nonrevolving credit climbed 9%.

In December, overall consumer credit increased at an annual rate of 9.25%.

The Fed report includes credit card debt, auto loans and other debt not secured by real estate. It excludes home mortgages and home equity lines of credit.

To read the Fed release, use the link.

CDCUs support orgs. get Ford Foundation subgrants

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NEW YORK (2/8/12)--The Ford Foundation recently provided a series of investments and grants to expand the scale and capacity of several community development credit unions (CDCUs) and two CDCU support organizations. The support was given to recognize the critical role that CDCUs play in empowering low- and moderate-income communities nationwide, the foundation said.

The Ford Foundation made an indirect investment in Innovations for Poverty Action's U.S. Household Finance Initiative, which recently announced several subgrants to CDCUs, including: Freedom First FCU, Roanoke, Va.; Neighborhood Trust Financial Partners, the nonprofit affiliate of Neighborhood Trust FCU, New York; Rite Check Cashing, in partnership with Bethex FCU, New York; and the Montana Network for Community Development, a nonprofit intermediary, which supports Montana CDCUs.

The Ford Foundation also supported Self-Help FCU, Oakland, Calif., which received a direct $30 million investment to support its expansion throughout California (See News Now article Feb. 3--use the link).

The federation, which has been a Ford grantee for two decades, provides capital, technical and educational resources and advocacy, to a network of more than 240 CDCUs operating in low- and moderate-income communities across the U.S.

"Community development credit unions ... are critical because they focus on the financial service needs of low-income communities and the people who live there," said Frank DeGiovanni, Ford Foundation director of financial assets. "These institutions are rooted in the community and provide a set of well-designed and responsible financial services to help their members manage their financial lives."

A long-time supporter of economic development and asset-building through CDCUs, the Ford Foundation has a history of direct investment in community-based institutions, but also through a series of indirect investments with the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and other industry intermediaries.

"Ford's support of the federation has allowed us make literally hundreds of investments in CDCUs serving some of the hardest-hit communities across America," said federation president/CEO Cliff Rosenthal. "Their most recent investment in the federation, $2 million to support secondary capital investments in CDCUs, helped us bolster the net worth ratios of several CDCUs, and given the growing public interest to 'move your money' and the Bank Transfer Day phenomenon, these infusions of secondary capital are helping CDCUs grow more rapidly and serve more people in need."

The Ford Foundation's investments in the federation have supported several programs and products, most notably secondary capital investments to strengthen CDCUs and help them grow more rapidly; responsible lending products such as the recently launched "Borrow & Save" short-term small-dollar loan with a built-in savings component; Emerging Markets Reviews to help credit unions analyze their current offerings to low- and moderate-income communities and identify opportunities for greater penetration; research and documentation on the impact of CDCUs and the Community Development Financial Institution industry through funded studies and reports.

SECU provides funding for group homes

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RALEIGH, N.C. (2/8/12)--Partnering with the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA), State Employees' Credit Union (SECU) members, through the SECU Foundation, helped fund two group homes in North Carolina.

State Employees' CU (SECU), through the SECU Foundation, helped fund the construction of the two group homes in North Carolina. SECU also partnered with the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency. HAVEN Complex, left, is an emergency and transitional shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, with a support program for women and children. Randolph Fellowship Home is a licensed supervised substance abuse group home that assists chemically dependent individuals by providing an environment conducive to social, psychological and vocational stabilization. (Photos provided by SECU.)

CUNA Mutual Group names Shore as new CFO

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MADISON, Wis. (2/8/12)--CUNA Mutual Group has promoted Alastair Shore to executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Shore replaces the retiring Jerry Pavelich.

Shore will lead the core financial services of the company, which include financial planning, actuarial, capital planning, controller, treasury and expense management. He joined CUNA Mutual Group in 2006 and most recently served as chief risk officer and chief actuary. In those capacities, he was responsible for establishing a framework for the management of risk and for leading the company's actuarial functions.

"I'm pleased we were able to promote--from within our company--an experienced and qualified leader to serve as our next chief financial officer," said CUNA Mutual Group president/CEO Jeff Post. "Alastair has a wealth of insurance, financial and actuarial expertise. Combined with his understanding of our company and the markets in which we operate, he is ideally suited for this role."

CUNA announces board leadership roundtable

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MADISON, Wis. (2/8/12)--Registration and conference information is now available for the 2012 CUNA National Credit Union Roundtable for Board Leadership, Aug. 10-12 in Chicago. 

The CUNA National Credit Union Roundtable for Board Leadership brings together leaders from the largest credit unions in the country to discuss economic issues, membership growth strategies and governance regulations that impact the credit union industry. Each facilitated session at the roundtable is designed to foster a creative atmosphere where fresh ideas and innovative solutions can multiply.

During this event, attendees will:

  • Examine the importance of enterprise risk management;
  • Get updates on pressing industry topics;
  • Learn the latest trends in governance; and
  • Engage in facilitated open discussions on key credit union topics.
"It is not very often that board members from the nation's largest credit unions have the opportunity to meet with their peers to discuss the current state of the credit union industry," said Todd Spiczenski, vice president of the Center for Professional Development at the Credit Union National Association. "That is why the CUNA National Credit Union Roundtable for Board Leadership is such an impactful event to attend.

"Leading board members from some of the most powerful and successful credit unions in our movement once a year come together to discuss pressing issues, share best practices and learn innovative strategies on how to tackle the challenges facing their credit union," Spiczenski said. "Most importantly, the roundtable fosters an excellent networking environment where credit union directors can openly discuss issues of the day with their peers."

Charlotte Metro FCU tackles banks in Super Bowl ad

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (2/8/12)--Charlotte (N.C.) Metro CU, with $267 million in assets, aired a local TV ad during the Super Bowl for the third consecutive year. This year the credit union targeted big bank fees.

Charlotte Metro's ad presented a man wearing a suit, using a vacuum, and displaying a sticker reading "Big Banks"--to represent sucking money away from consumers (Charlotte Business Journal Online Feb. 6).

After the man vacuums a child's hot dog out of its bun, the narrator says, "Apparently there's no limit to what big banks will do for profits. Don't get suckered. Switch to Charlotte Metro Credit Union."

The 30-second spot aired in the first half of Sunday's game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots.

While national Super Bowl ads cost up to $3.5 million for 30 seconds of air time, local commercials cost much less, according to the Charlotte Business Journal Online.

Consumer dissatisfaction with bank fees was the impetus behind Bank Transfer Day Nov. 5. A recent Javelin Strategy & Research study reported that 610,000 consumers switched to credit unions as a result.

To view the Charlotte Metro CU ad on YouTube, use the link.