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CU System briefs (03/10/2011)

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* CONYERS, Ga.(3/11/11)--A suspect in a credit union robbery Wednesday afternoon was arrested after a car chase that involved ramming cars and a shootout with police before he was cornered at an apartment complex and surrendered. Cepeda Broughton, 40, of Atlanta is charged in the robbery of Georgia's Own CU in Conyers. A man entered the crdit union at about 3 p.m., brandished a 9 mm gun and fled with an undisclosed amount of money in a stolen truck. The suspect rammed three cars and a police car before police stopped the vehicle. The suspect then fled the truck and a shootout with police occurred over the next 300 to 400 yards, according to police. No one sustained gunshot wounds, but several people in the rammed cars received minor injuries (Rockdale Citizen March 9 and March 10) … * WACO, Texas (3/11/11)--Michael Chad Reeves of Lacy Lakeview, Texas, was sentenced to eight years in federal prison during a hearing Wednesday in a U.S. District Court in Waco, Texas. He had pleaded guilty to robbing Centex Citizens CU, Mexia, on Oct. 12. In the incident, he handed a teller a note that demanded $10,000 in unmarked bills or the teller would die, and he displayed a pistol tucked into his jeans. He fled with $11,000 in cash. Later, when arrested on an outstanding warrant, he admitted robbing the credit union, police said. In addition to the prison term, Reeves will also serve five years of supervised release and was ordered to pay a $500 fine, $9,900 in restitution and $100 court fee ( March 9) … * BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (3/11/11)--Gang member Irvin Briggs, 38, surrendered Tuesday night to authorities at Kern County Jail after a shooting incident outside Kern Schools FCU, Bakersfield, Calif. The incident occurred March 3. According to police he fought with two men in the credit union's parking lot and allegedly shot several times at the other men, who have not been identified. No injuries were reported, but the incident caused a lockdown at three schools nearby. He was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, reckless discharge of a firearm, felon/gang member in possession of a firearm and participation in a criminal street gang ( March 9) … * LOCKPORT, N.Y. (3/11/11)--A former bookkeeper at Niagara's County FCU, Lockport, N.Y., has pleaded guilty for a second time to embezzling money from the $43 million asset credit union. Gail M. Witkop, 51, pleaded guilty in Niagara County Court Wednesday to fourth-degree grand larceny and first-degree falsifying business records. She was a bookkeeper at the $42.5 million asset credit union from 2006 to 2008. Sentencing is set for May 12 and is to include restitution of $10,200. In 2008, she pleaded guilty in a city court to a reduced charge, repaid $10,136 stolen from the credit union, and served 75 days in the county work program. Judge Matthew J. Murphy rejected the defense attorney's argument that the new charges constituted illegal double jeopardy ( March 10) …

Irish league to ask CUs to inject more into deposit fund

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DUBLIN, Ire. (3/11/11)--Twenty credit unions in Ireland are seeking support from the Irish League of Credit Union and the Savings Protection Fund (SPS), the league's emergency fund for credit unions in trouble. That means the league will ask credit unions to allocate more funds for financial buffer fund. The league put aside $66.7 million in its 2010 accounts to cover the financial commitments for 13 troubled credit unions, leaving the fund's value at $102.billion, according to the Irish Independent March 8 and March 10). (All amounts are in U.S. dollars). Since then the league has been approached by seven more credit unions seeking assistance, some of it with governance, not funding. The league is proposing a special levy on its 419 credit unions to raise an additional $8.3 million to boost its recovery fund. League President Mark Bailey told the newspaper that a special motion will be made at the league's Annual General Meeting in Belfast in April.

WOCCU G-10 examines mega-trends impacting CUs

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WASHINGTON (3/11/11)--The worldwide economic crisis of the past two years may have changed the playing field on which financial institutions operate, but the global credit union movement still faces many of the same challenges that it did before. However, many of those challenges require greater urgency in response, according to discussions last week among World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) G-10 meeting participants.
Click to view larger image Participants in this year’s World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) G-10 meeting included, from left: Fidelis Kimutai, Kenya; Grzegorz Bierecki, Poland; Yvonne Ridguard Harris, Caribbean; Mark Degotardi, Australia; David Phillips and Garth Mannes, Canada; Ralph Wharton, Caribbean; Manuel Bolanos Sandoval, Costa Rica; Dave Grace, WOCCU; Manuel Rabines Ripalda, Peru; Guido Piedra Bermudez, Costa Rica; Barry Jolette, U.S.; George Ototo, Kenya; Harriet May, U.S.; Pete Crear and Brian Branch, WOCCU; Mark Sievewright, moderator; and Bill Cheney, U.S. (Photo provided by World Council of Credit Unions)
The WOCCU G-10, comprising the world’s 10 largest credit union systems, meets annually to examine trends and conditions affecting financial services in general and credit unions in particular. This year’s event was held March 3-4 at the close of Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference and was the first G-10 meeting to be held in Washington, D.C. “WOCCU’s G-10 is a credit union movement ‘think tank’ designed to bring the largest players face to face with the most critical issues,” said WOCCU Chair Barry Jolette, president/CEO of San Mateo CU in Redwood City, Calif. “As credit unions, we have some challenges ahead of us, but we also have some opportunities to better serve our members.” Participants identified five “mega-trends” affecting credit unions, and possible approaches and resolutions to meet the challenges. The five trends are:
* A greater need for urbanization: In many countries, credit unions wield their greatest influence in rural areas by providing services to the poor. The United Nations predicts that within 40 years 92% of the world’s population will occupy urban areas. Credit unions will need to strengthen their urban presence for the movement to continue growing. * An increasing microfinance malaise: Despite good intentions, many microfinance providers, specifically microlenders, are finding their methodology questioned. Do loans provide the greatest benefit to the developing world? With their emphasis on savings programs, credit unions have demonstrated greater efficacy in addressing need, and more concentrated efforts must be made to inform and educate the public to the value that credit unions offer. * An uptick in transactional mobility: WOCCU has made great strides in using portable technology initiatives to reach the rural poor in Mexico and Kenya, with additional programs under development in other countries. Security and privacy issues are still a concern for many, so steps must be taken to help address those concerns as technology use grows. As mobility grows in usage, credit unions need to consider what role, if any, their branches play in the future. * A push for membership growth: Despite challenges to credit unions in many countries, membership worldwide continues to grow, but penetration among the 20-24 and 30-34 age groups is among the lowest. Increased effort to reach these demographics, which exhibit high levels of interest in cooperative enterprise, is the key to the movement’s future growth. * Fostering an emerging middle class: Countries with strong middle classes gain political and economic stability faster than those without, and credit unions have been especially successfully in helping foster middle-class growth. Credit unions also have benefitted from the growth of the middle class, pointing to a need to increase efforts to support this growth not only for the benefit of credit unions, but also of individuals, families, communities and countries worldwide.
“Credit unions can be extremely proud of their performance during the worst of the financial crisis, but that doesn’t mean the challenges are over,” said Pete Crear, WOCCU president and CEO. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, but credit unions’ high levels of consumer satisfaction, greater capitalization levels and other advantages inherent to the cooperative model mean that we are well-positioned to take advantage of current opportunities and re-invent ourselves to meet evolving consumer finance demands.” In addition to Crear and Jolette, G-10 participants included: Mark Degotardi, Abacus Australian Mutuals; Garth Manness and David Phillips, Credit Union Central of Canada; Yvonne Ridguard Harris and Ralph Wharton, Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions; Manuel Bolaños Sandoval and Guido Piedra Bermudez, Federación de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Credito de Costa Rica R.L.; George Ototo and Fidelis Kimutai, Kenya Union of Savings & Credit Co-operatives; WOCCU First Vice Chair Manuel Rabines Ripalda, Federación Nacional de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Crédito del Perú; WOCCU Second Vice Chair Grzegorz Bierecki, National Association of Co-operative Savings & Credit Unions, Poland; Bill Cheney and Harriet May, Credit Union National Association; and WOCCU’s Brian Branch, executive vice president and chief operating officer, and Dave Grace, senior vice president of association services. Representatives from the Irish League of Credit Unions and Confederação Interestadual das Cooperativas Ligadas ao SICREDI in Brazil were unable to attend. Mark Sievewright, corporate vice president of strategic marketing for Fiserv Inc. moderated the meeting.

Arizona CUs raise 423301 for CU4Kids

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PHOENIX (3/11/11)--The Arizona Credit Union League announced that the state’s credit unions raised $423,301 in 2010 for Credit Union for Kids (CU4Kids), the credit union movement’s program for raising money and supporting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Click to view larger image The Arizona Credit Union League said the state’s credit unions raised $423,301 in 2010 for Credit Union for Kids (CUs4Kids), the credit union movement’s charity program for raising money and supporting Children’s Miracle Network hospitals. Pictured, from left, are: Lee Bultman, director of patient and family services Phoenix Children’s Hospital; Pat Bodnar, senior vice president, Arizona Credit Union League; and Lenore Froehlich, vice president of marketing, Canyon State CU, Phoenix. (Photo provided by the Arizona Credit Union League)
Last year, Phoenix credit unions raised $377,975 to benefit Phoenix Children’s Hospital, while Tucson credit unions raised $45,326 for Tucson Medical Center. Phoenix funds help support One Darn Cool School, a K-12 inpatient education program enabling kids to continue their regular classroom studies while at the hospital. Tucson monies support the Pediatric Expansion Capitol Campaign--Block By Block, Miracles Happen. Desert Schools FCU, Phoenix, raised the most money out of any Phoenix credit union for Phoenix Children’s Hospital. It was followed by First CU, Chandler; TruWest CU, Tempe, and Arizona Central CU, Phoenix. Canyon State CU, Phoenix, also was honored for the highest percentage increase in fundraising. In Tucson, Hughes FCU was the top earner. Rounding out the top five were Tucson FCU, Arizona Central CU, Vantage West CU, and Pima FCU.

NCUF financial reality fair conducted during GAC

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WASHINGTON (3/11/11)--The National Credit Union Foundation’s (NCUF) REAL Solutions Program held its first D.C. Financial Reality Fair in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington, D.C., last week.
Click to view larger image Volunteer Gerry Singleton helps a teen spin the National Credit Union Foundation Reality Fairs’ “Wheel of Reality” at the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.
A Reality Fair is an interactive financial literacy tool for high school students. The fair was held at the Rayburn House Office Building March 2. About 40-50 area high school students attended from H.D. Woodson High School. GAC attendees and others also stopped by to learn more about the fair’s concept. “Financial education for our nation’s youth is an integral part of the foundation’s mission as well as credit unions,” said Bucky Sebastian, NCUF executive director. The GAC event was sponsored by NCUF with support and expertise from:
* The Credit Union League of Connecticut, which created the program and materials for the D.C. fair based upon its award-winning program. Connecticut credit unions have hosted fairs since 2008 with more than 4,000 students attending the interactive educational experience. * CUNA’s Mad City Money, a hands-on simulation for youth that gives
Click to view larger image Volunteers Mark Lynch (left) and Johns Keet (right) counsel teens on their budgets after visiting all the booths at the Financial Reality Fair sponsored by the Credit Union National Association Governmental Affairs Conference. (Photos provided by the National Credit Union Foundation)
them a taste of the real world--complete with occupation, salary, spouse, student loan debt, credit card debt and medical insurance payments. To see the simulation, use the link. *America's Credit Union Museum's CU 4 Reality, a hands-on comprehensive training package centered on the interactions among students, educators, parents, credit unions and business volunteers. * HarborOne CU’s Credit for Life Fair, which has operated in high schools since 2001. The Brockton, Mass.-based credit union has won awards for its fair, which is attended by thousands of students every year. * Area credit unions such as HEW FCU, Alexandria, Va., which provided volunteers and the school connection while Congressional FCU helped with program logistics and volunteers. The Maryland & DC Credit Union Association also provided logistical support. * Credit Union Development Educators in attendance at the GAC, who also volunteered for the event.
“This fair accomplished the goal of highlighting the benefits and importance of conducting youth financial education,” said Tony Emerson, president/CEO of Connecticut league. “It also highlighted the dedication of the many credit union system volunteers that lend their time and talents to making sure these endeavors are carried out successfully.”

Ohio regulator CU exec join NASCUS leadership

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ARLINGTON, Va. (3/11/11)--The National Association of Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS) recently announced three appointments. NASCUS Chairman Tom Candon appointed Michael Wettrich, deputy superintendent for credit unions for the Ohio Department of Commerce, to fill an unexpired term that will end in September. Wettrich has been with the department for more than 12 years and was appointed deputy superintendent for credit Unions in November. Michael Kurish, president/CEO of Associated Schools Employees CU, Youngstown, Ohio, has been appointed to fill an unexpired term on the NASCUS Credit Union Executive Council ending in September. Kurish has served as president/CEO of Associated Schools Employees CU since 1985. The appointment was made by Credit Union Advisory Council Chairman Parker Cann, senior vice president and corporate counsel of BECU, Tukwila, Wash. Also, the executive council elected Linda Childs, president/CEO of Knoxville (Tenn.) Post Office CU, Knoxville, Tenn., as secretary. The council comprises 12 credit union executives who serve in an advisory capacity to NASCUS. “NASCUS welcomes these new voices to our leadership,” said NASCUS President/CEO Mary Martha Fortney. “We are pleased to have their perspectives, especially considering Ohio has such a significant voice in the state credit union system. NASCUS looks forward to working with them during the coming months.”

Grant will help Brooklyn CDCU pilot impulse saving

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BROOKLYN, N.Y. (3/11/11)--A $300,000 grant received earlier this week by a community development credit union (CDCU) in Brooklyn, N.Y., will help it pilot a progam to curb impulse buying and promote "impulse saving." Brooklyn Cooperative FCU, a $10.4 million asset, low-income designated CDCU, received the grant from the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) to pilot Piggymojo to new and existing account holders to try to boost participants' savings balances. The program uses goal visualization, social commitments, and mobile and online technology to help consumers quantify and enjoy the act of not buying, according to a press release from the Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. The credit union, which serves 7,000 members, is a member of the federation. While impulse buying provides momentary satisfaction, it often hinders savings efforts and contributes to personal debt, said the release. The project aims to help the credit union's low-income members increase their savings by motivating and enabling them to make "impulse saves" that retain the satisfaction element of impulse buying without the financial costs. By integrating the Piggymojo solution with Brooklyn Cooperative's core processing platform, the credit union can help members' impulse saves move from their checking account into a savings account. "Our credit union serves Bushwick and Bedford-Stuyvesant, two highly underserved, low-income neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn," said Samira Rajan, the credit union's CEO. "As a young community development credit union, the reach of our programs has often been limited to those members that physically come into the branch and take advantage of our services, including financial literacy education and counseling, free tax preparation through our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, and so on. "This grant changes that dynamic by allowing us to offer a mobile application that any of our members can take advantage of regardless of where they are," she added, noting the credit union is interested in how its members " will take to the new program and what kind of impact it will have on their financial habits." The Center for Community Capital at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill will study how Piggymojo promotes the financial capability of Brooklyn Cooperative members. The credit union's non-profit affiliate, Grow Brooklyn, will collaborate in the partnership to bring the program to community members. Brooklyn Cooperative's project was one of five projects to receive a combined $1.5 million in grants from CFSI (News Now March 9).