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Financial Literacy Month Kicks Off, Financially Fit Day Is Wednesday

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MADISON, Wis. (4/1/13)--Financial literacy is no April Fool's joke. Credit unions are taking this week's kickoff of National Financial Literacy Month seriously, with activities aimed at educating about finances and reemphasizing the value of credit unions.

One of the first events, Financially Fit Day, will occur Wednesday, when credit unions can raise funds to support financial education. Credit unions can raise funds Wednesday and/ or throughout the month, said the National Credit Union Foundation. The initiative is part of NCUF's "Credit Unions Support Financial Education: Leading the Way to Financial Freedom" campaign. Credit unions will find ideas for activities in a toolkit at the campaign website.

"Holding a casual day on Wednesday is a simple way for credit union organizations to make an impact on state and national financial education efforts," said NCUF Director of Communications Christopher Morris.

Credit unions also will be participating in two annual national efforts sponsored by the Credit Union National Association:  National Credit Union Youth Week, April 21-27,  and the National Youth Saving Challenge.

Slip on a mustache for the "Savings Sleuth--Solve the Mystery" theme and help youth solve the mystery of how to save for meaningful purchases. The challenge prompts savings habits in youth and rewards 10 participants with cash prizes.  CUNA's resources include campaign materials such as financial education content, items to reward young members and apparel for credit union staff.

Maine credit unions will offer four Financial Fitness-Money Management Experience events this week. "In four days, nearly 1,000 students will participate in one of the fairs, which is unprecedented," said Jon Paradise, governmental and public affairs manager at the Maine Credit Union League. The fairs and hosts are:

  • Today, Maine Education CU, at Cony High School, Augusta;
  • Tuesday, the Alex Ferguson Chapter at Lake Region High School, Naples;
  • Wednesday, PeoplesChoice CU at Marshwood High School, Eliot; and
  • Thursday,  Norm Nolette and Jeanette G. Morin Chapters at schools in Lewiston.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed a proclamation declaring April 20-27 as Money Smart Week. The Rockford Chapter of  Credit Unions (RACCU) has expanded its annual Money Smart Week (MSW), which it sponsored for five years, into the Northern Illinois Money Smart Week, April 20-27.

It will "reach people of all ages and walks of life with financial education and literacy in more  northern Illinois counties, including Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, Lee, Ogle, Stephenson and Winnebago, " said Lorna Cole, MSW marketing committee co-chair and director of marketing for Rockford-based MembersAlliance CU.

This year's MSW has more than 100 local partner organizations--20% more than last year--and will offer more than 160 free educational classes. Last year at least 5,400 people attended classes. Sessions by RACCU and its credit unions include:

  • April 20:  A Mad City teen reality fair at the Rockford Library and a Spring Fun and Safety Day at Rock Valley CU;
  • April 22: "College 101--Explore YOUR Options" and "Financial Aid & FAFSA--What You Need to Know," co-hosted by Generations CU, and "Getting the Credit You Deserve," co-hosted by Rock Valley CU;
  • April 23:  "How to Stretch a Buck," co-sponsored by Rock Valley CU, and "A Complete Financial Guide For Those Born Between 1960-1980: The Road Map," co-sponsored by MembersAlliance CU;
  • April 24: "Buying a Home? Ask The Experts About Credit, Financing, Realtors and More," co-sponsored by MembersAlliance CU;
  • April 26:  "ID Theft, Don't Be A Victim," co-sponsored by Rock Valley CU; and
  • April 27: "Teen Xtreme Credit Class," co-sponsored by MembersAlliance CU.
What is your credit union doing to promote financial literacy this month? Let News Now know by sending your information to newsnow@cuna.coop.

PCUA To Honor Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (4/1/13)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association has announced its 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award Winners are Dave Ackerman and Dr. Ross McFarland.

Ackerman, CEO of USX FCU in Pittsburgh, has been named PCUA's Professional of the Year. He has served in the credit union movement for 25 years, 14 of them in his position as CEO.  He serves as vice chairman of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation Board and is chairman of the foundation's Grants Committee.

McFarland, treasurer of Tri County Area FCU, Pottstown, is the 2013 Volunteer of the Year, PCUA said.  He has served 34 years in various volunteer positions at credit unions and has been treasurer for 18 years.  McFarland has been a member of the board of the Montgomery Chapter of Credit Unions for more than two decades and is active in its fundraising projects and other programs. He participated in the 1991 Operation Grassroots rally and the 1998 campaign for H.R. 1151, the Campaign for Consumer Choice.  He also led the way to open a student branch at Pottsgrove High School.

They will be presented the awards May 18 during PCUA's Annual Convention in Hershey.

Resolution, New Time Highlight Maine CU Day At State House

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AUGUSTA, Maine (4/1/13)--The passing of a joint legislative resolution recognizing the value of Maine's credit unions, and a revamped lunch-time format highlighted Maine Credit Union Day at the State House in Augusta, said the Maine Credit Union League.

Underscored by one of the largest turnouts of credit union representatives and legislators in recent years, credit unions statewide were represented, and legisla­tors appreciated speaking with representatives from their local credit unions, the league said  (Weekly Update March 29).

"The value of building and strengthening relation­ships between local credit unions and their legislators is significant," said league President John Murphy. "It re­ally reinforces how community-oriented and locally focused Maine's credit unions are to legislators."

As part of Credit Union Day, the Maine House and Senate passed a Joint Resolution recognizing Maine's credit unions and the economic benefit they provide to Maine con­sumers. "Maine consumers save $38 million annually by using a credit union, as a result of lower and fewer fees on products and services, lower interest rates on loans and higher interest rates on savings," the resolution stated.

"We have a number of im­portant issues we are involved with this session so having such a large pres­ence at this event reinforces the strength and high level of involvement of Maine's credit unions in the legislative process," Murphy said.

In a switch from previous Credit Union Days, the league's Governmental Affairs Team opted to change the time of the event from a breakfast activity to lunchtime to better accommodate the session schedule of the legislature and to make it more convenient for credit unions.

CUs Focus On Financial Literacy 12 Months a Year

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MADISON, Wis. (4/1/13)--While Financial Literacy Month provides an opportunity for credit unions to highlight their financial education efforts, many credit unions are dedicated to helping their members achieve financial fitness 12 months a year.

Since 2009 the Credit Union League of Connecticut has worked with state credit unions to host Financial Reality Fairs. The league began the Reality Fair initiative through the National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions program.

In the Reality Fair concept, students experience financial challenges similar to what they will face when they start life on their own. Students identify their career choice and starting salaries, then complete a budget sheet requiring them to live within their monthly salary while paying for basics such as housing, utilities, transportation, clothing and food. Expenditures such as entertainment and travel are factored in as well.

In 2012, the Connecticut league reached its 10,000th student through Reality Fairs.

The Reality Fairs have benefits beyond financial literacy, said Barbara Bass, vice president of education and human resource development for the league. "It raises the level of knowledge of credit unions in the state and creates a venue for credit unions to work cooperatively," Bass said.

Community Financial CU, Plymouth, Mich., offers financial literacy in its communities and local school districts through student-run branches. The credit union currently operates 37 student-run branches. It also reached 16,000 students through classroom presentations in 2012.

"We have a community charter, and our board is committed to supporting the families in our communities," said Natalie McLaughlin, senior education partnership coordinator at $511 million asset Community Financial CU. "Our board decided this was the best way to reach the most kids and prepare them to handle their money in a responsible manner."

A focal point of Centennial, Colo.-based Arapahoe CU's financial education program is classroom presentations. In 2012, the credit union made more than 200 presentations, reaching roughly 8,000 students. The presentations cover topics like checking account management, budgeting, identity theft, credit and online banking.

The presentations have an impact on students, Julie McLean, director of financial education at Arapahoe told News Now. "I recently made a presentation in one of our underserved areas," McLean said. "Most of the kids were using payday lending services. We signed a lot of those kids up to be credit unions members. That's the kind of effect these programs can have."

Missouri CUs Begin Ad Campaign 'Bank On MOre'

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ST. LOUIS (4/1/13)--Missouri credit unions have united to launch an eight-month advertising campaign to inform consumers they have a better option when choosing a financial institution--a credit union. The Bank on MOre campaign educates consumers about both the distinctions and similarities among credit unions and banks.

The campaign, developed by the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) on behalf of 50 participating credit unions, launched March 25 with statewide coverage in radio, print, digital, out-of-home and social media. It includes messages such as "MOre Bank. Less Piggy" and "Your Street. Not Wall Street," and raises awareness that banking at a local credit union is a better choice both for consumers and their communities.

"Research indicated we needed to highlight the credit union differences in philosophy and community and dispel the myths that it's hard to join a credit union, and that credit unions are less convenient than banks," says Don Cohenour, MCUA president/CEO. "It was a tall order, but we are up to the task."

MCUA conducted survey research on consumer attitudes toward credit unions before developing the campaign. Results indicated that if consumers have a better understanding of three key concepts--nearly all consumers in Missouri are eligible to join a credit union, credit unions offer the same range of financial services as traditional banks and credit unions are very competitive in terms of loan rates and financial benefits--consumers are more likely to switch to a credit union.

MCUA hired APCO Worldwide in Washington, D.C., to develop and manage the campaign. APCO specializes in movement marketing and campaigns.

The campaign also features online advertising and is weighted heavily on social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

"This campaign is set to reach six million Missourians and tell them they have a better choice when it comes to their bank accounts," said Judy Hadsall, president/CEO of CU Community CU in Springfield, Mo. "We joined the campaign because credit unions are the best kept secret in financial services for consumers and it's about time Missourians hear that from us."

Filene i3 Program Seeks Recruits

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MADISON, Wis. (4/1/13)--Filene Research Institute's i3 program is recruiting creative people in North American credit unions to create new products, services, business models and processes that transform the financial lives of consumers. 

Thirteen percent of participants in the innovation program end up becoming credit union CEOs, and the future of credit unions depends on its success, Filene said.

"To move credit unions forward and truly improve outcomes for members, communities and the cooperative finance movement, we have to build an environment fertile for creative collisions," said Filene Innovation Director Matt Davis. "A key ingredient to making this happen is making sure bright, creative people with a 'let's roll up our sleeves and get this done' attitude are able to meet, play and build with people like them." 

Ideas created in the i3 program have gone on to change state laws, improve the financial lives of millions of consumers, save millions of dollars for credit unions and drive new members to the credit union system, Filene said. More than 20 former i3ers have been promoted to CEO of a credit union or system organization. 

Candidates must be executives at credit unions or credit union service organizations that have not reached the CEO level, but are considered as a leader or future leader in the credit union system. Ten to 15 candidates will be selected for a two-year term, which requires:

  • Commitment and support of their credit union's CEO or manager to be involved in the program;
  • Commitment to pilot at least two i3 ideas;
  • Commitment to attend two national meetings per year and cover the travel costs; and
  • Participation in regular group work and meetings beyond the national meetings.
Applicants must be employees of credit unions that are Filene members, complete an application form, take an online 100-question behavioral/entrepreneurial assessment and take a short grit [long-term persistence] test. The application process opens May 1 and closes at midnight June 1.

For more information, use the link.

Several Leagues, CUs Announce Funds Raised For Kids' Hospitals

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ST. PAUL, Minn., and DANA Point, Calif. (4/1/13)--Credit unions in California, Nevada, Minnesota, and Wisconsin reported fundraising for the Credit Unions for Kids efforts to benefit Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in their states.

Click to view larger image The eighth annual California and Nevada Credit Unions for Kids Wine Auction in Dana Point, Calif., raised a record $500,000 for 11 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in California and Nevada. The auction event drew more than 360 attendees from 78 credit unions, business partners and hospitals. (Photo provided by Credit Unions for Kids) The eighth annual California and Nevada Credit Unions for Kids Wine Auction, Dana Point, Calif., raised a record $500,000 for 11 Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in California and Nevada. The sold-out March 22 event drew more than 360 attendees from 78 credit unions, business partners and hospitals. The event has raised more than $1.9 million since 2006.

The Minnesota Credit Union Foundation presented a check for nearly $204,495 to Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare. From left: Dave Engler, Minnesota Credit Unions for Kids (MnCU4Kids) co-chair; Mark D. Cummins, Minnesota Credit Union Foundation president; Marlo Hirl, MnCU4Kids co-chair; and Becky DeRosia, development associate for Gillette Children's. (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation) "Our credit union partners once again demonstrated their remarkable generosity and unwavering commitment to our California and Nevada children's hospitals with their support of this year's wine auction," said Joe Dearborn, senior director, Credit Unions for Kids. "It's a true testament to the credit union philosophy of people helping people."

Click to view larger imageMembers and employees of Landmark CU, New Berlin, Wis. raised $36,618 for Children's Hospital Foundation through its Credit Unions for Kids Chain of Hearts program. Landmark CEO Jay Magulski presents the check to Liz Girsch, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin. (Photo provided by Landmark CU) MnCU4Kids is a committee of the foundation and part of a collaboration of credit unions and their organizations and partners raising funds through a variety of activities for Children's Miracle Network-affiliated hospitals.

Among credit unions announcing their individual efforts on behalf of CU4 Kids was New Berlin, Wis., Landmark CU. Hundreds of its members and 530 employees raised $36,618 for Children's Hospital Foundation by selling $1 "links" and $10 "hearts" during its CU4Kids Chain of Hearts campaign. That was a 13% increase over last year.