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Educator of Year to get years mortgage paid by CU

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PORTLAND, Ore. (3/18/10)--Some lucky teacher will get a year's worth of mortgage payments paid by OnPoint Community CU in its Prize for Excellence Education Contest. The Portland, Ore.-based, $2.8 billion asset credit union is partnering with KGW-TV to honor local teachers and their schools. It will award nearly $45,000 to deserving private and public K-12 teachers and their schools. In addition to paying the mortgage for one year for the Educator of the Year, the credit union will pay $5,000 for that teacher's school for resources and supplies. OnPoint, which was founded by teachers in 1932, continues to recognize that strengthening local education is one of the best ways to build thriving communities. The annual contest "celebrates extraordinary teaching methods that spark enthusiasm and passion in students and their parents," said OnPoint President/CEO Rob Stuart. Also, a Community Choice winner will be selected and awarded $1,500 cash, plus $1,500 for the teacher's school. Three finalists also will be selected and will win $1,500 and $1,500 for each of their schools. Five semi-finalists will be given $250 each for their school. Throughout the campaign, KGW-TV will run promos to support the OnPoint Prize contest. The credit union also will post contest updates on Facebook and Twitter. Winners will be announced June 4.

Egan Mortgage apps wont rise til unemployment addressed

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MARLBOROUGH, Mass. (3/18/10)--The slide in U.S. home loans last week despite low mortgage rates suggests it will take some time before housing industry recovers. Dan Egan, president of three credit union leagues, agrees, reports Reuters (March 17). The Mortgage Bankers Association index of purchase and refinance applications fell last week by a seasonally adjusted 1.9% to a three-week low-- despite the fact interest rates were at the lowest in more than three months, said Reuters. Bad winter weather was a factor. After a burst of housing demand last year, "the continuation of the [federal] tax credit [for homebuyers] was supposed to spur continued sales into 2010, and it just doesn't seem at this point to have done that," Egan told the publication. He is president of the Massachusetts Credit Union League, the New Hampshire Credit Union League and the Credit Union Association of Rhode Island. "Not only are people unemployed but people are concerned about future employment," Egan said. "Until that really gets addressed, I don't think we'll see a significant rise in mortgage applications." For the full article, use the link.

CreditCards.com lists 10 places not to use a debit card

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MADISON, Wis. (3/18/10)--There are 10 situations where consumers should keep their debit card in their wallet, according to CreditCards.com. Susan Tiffany, the Credit Union National Association's director of consumer periodicals, provides some of the advice. "You don't use a debit card online," Tiffany told the publication. Not using debit cards online was No. 1 on the list. Since the debit card links directly to a checking account, "you have potential vulnerability there," Tiffany said. The Fox Business Network (March 17) also picked up the CreditCards.com article. Tiffany also gave advice on using debit cards in restaurants. Most lists warn against letting a credit or debit card out of sight at a restaurant, but restaurants are one of the few places where the consumer must let the card out of sight to use it. Avoiding such situations isn't workable. "The conventional advice of 'don't let the card out of your sight'--that's just not practical," Tiffany said. As for using the card at gas stations and hotels, Tiffany said it depends on the individual business. Some gas stations and hotels will place holds to cover customers who may leave without settling the entire bill. That means that even though the consumer bought only $10 in gas, the hotel can have a temporary banking hold for $50 to $100, Tiffany said. The practice isn't as noticeable if paying with a credit card but can be problematic for debit card users with just enough funds in the account to cover the purchase. The CreditCards.com article said not to use debit cards in 10 situations. Use the link to access the list.

CU System briefs (03/17/2010)

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* TREVOSE, Pa. (3/18/10)--Luke Lukashunas, vice president of fraud security at TruMark Financial CU, Trevose, Pa., has been appointed to the executive board of the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators (IAFCI). IAFCI, which has 4,300 members worldwide representing all levels of law enforcement, banking and retail businesses, works to eradicate fraudulent financial transactions, promote the exchange of criminal intelligence, and apprehend and prosecute lawbreakers. Lukashunas will serve his term until December. His responsibilities include overseeing IAFCI's internal communications, its computer network system, and recording minutes at board meetings ... * KANSAS CITY, Mo. (3/18/10)--Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) met with 25 Missouri credit union representatives at a roundtable meeting held at CommunityAmerica CU, Kansas City, on March 15. Skelton addressed the nation's economic state and listened to credit union concerns and issues, particularly with credit unions' member business lending cap, and regulatory structuring and overdraft protection. He noted that some economic sectors are improving or leveling off, and that unemployment is still lagging but things seem to be turning around. "We are a great country with a great past and a great future. Even with all of the challenges right now, we cannot forget that," he told the group. From left are Pat Yokely, CommunityAmerica; Shelton; Dana Alderman, River Region CU; and Rod Gruenberg, Community/America. (Photo provided by Missouri Credit Union Association) ...

CUs Beetle helping spread fin ed

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REXBURG, Idaho (3/18/10)--Beehive FCU, Rexburg, Idaho, is driving back in time and using a 1972 stretch Volkswagen Beetle to attract younger members to the credit union, according to local media. Beehive wants to help young people become more financially independent, said KPVI.com. If credit union members are financially successful, then credit unions will be financially successful, Shane Berger, Beehive FCU CEO, told the news service. Parents have an obligation to teach their children financial responsibility, and so do schools, Berger added. The credit union is not trying to replace schools or parents, but rather is trying to supplement whatever children learn in school, he said. KPVI also interviewed Thomas Cottam, 18, who said that in high school, in a math class one day, he had a 15 minute lesson on finances. “That was about it,” he told the news service.

Iowa foundation awarded 165K for IDA program

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DES MOINES, Iowa (3/18/10)--The Northwest Area Foundation (NWAF) has awarded the Iowa Credit Union Foundation (ICUF) a $165,000 grant for its Credit Union Family Partnership Individual Development Accounts (IDA) Program. ICUF will use the award to expand its IDA program and increase the number of Iowa credit unions offering financial education and savings accounts for families with low incomes, including those serving Latino communities, said the Iowa Credit Union League. ICUF is one of six recipients to receive a NWAF grant, said Marybeth Foster, ICUF executive director. “This grant will help us to extend our outreach efforts to low-income Iowans through our IDA program and ultimately help them acquire long-term financial stability,” she added. IDAs are matched savings accounts where a participant’s savings are matched by a grant from another organization. The saver uses the matching funds are to purchase a specific asset--such as a home, starting or expanding a small business, paying for education or job training, or purchasing a vehicle to get to work. Participants must meet income guidelines and participate in financial education seminars. “The recent recession has hit communities hard all across the Northwest area, but its impact has been especially harsh for those who were already struggling to make ends meet,” said Kevin Walker, NWAF president/CEO. “This set of grants is designed to support vital asset-building work in urban and rural places, and to leverage support from other sources.” About $665,000 was awarded by NWAF to six organizations that have demonstrated their ability to leverage investments made in their work.

Public favor shines on CUs says Philly Trib

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PHILADELPHIA (3/18/10)--There has been a resurgence of people moving to credit unions over the past five years, the Philadelphia Tribune said Monday. “The past five years have witnessed an explosion of interest in what has come to be called ‘slow living’--the oldest and most recognizable branch being the slow-food movement,” wrote Christopher Moraff in an article titled, “Credit Unions Enjoying a Resurgence.” “As the name implies, the mindset involves embracing all things small and local while rejecting the large, corporate and impersonal,” he added. “Since the near-collapse of the economy in 2008 and the recession that followed, consumers are increasingly taking the same concept to heart when considering what to do with their money. The result: There has been a measurable shift of personal wealth from large, corporate banks into smaller community banks and credit unions. “Credit unions posted 2% membership growth in 2009, according to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA)--the fastest pace since 2001; and 22% of consumers polled by Zogby consider a credit union their principle bank,” Moraff wrote. The growth of credit unions is “impressive and encouraging,” Debbie Matz, chair of the National Credit Union Administration, told the paper. “The ‘flight to safety’ that landed new deposits at credit unions during the economic downturn continues,” she added. However, despite the credit union renewal, many people still don’t know that much about credit unions, Mike Wishnow, executive vice president of communications and public relations for the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, told the publication. “The No. 1 reason people don’t join a credit union is eligibility; they simply don’t know they can belong,” Wishnow added. To read the article, use the link.

Filene seeks directors for online governance survey

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MADISON, Wis. (3/18/10)--The Filene Research Institute asks current and former credit union board members to participate in a study to measure the effectiveness of credit union governance. Respondents can access the 20-minute, online-only survey by using the resource link. The password is “filene.” The survey will be open through Wednesday. Filene and researchers at the Clarkson Centre for Board Effectiveness at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, seek to identify current strengths and weaknesses of credit union boards and directors, and to highlight governance trends during the past five years. A report summarizing the findings will be available this summer to interested credit union system organizations. “Credit union governance is perhaps our most important topic for rigorous academic research right now,” said George Hofheimer, Filene chief research officer. “The coming years will be pivotal for credit unions and credit union leaders. Only by gathering feedback from diverse perspectives can we best understand the characteristics and needs of credit union boards and directors.” The research is supported by the Credit Union Executives Society.

NCUF grants 13K to assess Better Choice impact

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (3/18/10)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) approved a $13,000 grant so the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) can conduct a Better Choice Impact Assessment.
The National Credit Union Foundation approved a grant for the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association to assess Credit Union Better Choice. Pictured are, from left: Joe Wambach, executive director, Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation and REAL Solutions project coordinator; and John Kebles, REAL Solutions project manager. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
The assessment will measure how credit unions offering Credit Union Better Choice transition users into mainstream products and services. It also will help PCUA and Pennsylvania credit unions improve the Better Choice program’s viability for financial support from the state Treasury Department. The project will quantify the amount of money saved by each borrower as compared to traditional payday loans. It also will measure how users build savings, improve their financial stability and become mainstream financial service users, said PCUA (Life is a Highway March 17). NCUF project funds will support data processing activities and continue the presence of a REAL Solutions coach. REAL Solutions helps consumers with alternatives to avoid high-priced payday loans. The grant will be implemented in May and is expected to last one year.