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Federation Institute for American Values form alliance

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NEW YORK (4/14/08)--The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions has formed an alliance with a nonprofit group tackling issues of excessive debt and inadequate savings in the U.S. The alliance is with the Institute for American Values, a New York-based nonprofit group, which will honor a former federation chairperson at the institute's upcoming national conference, Confronting the Debt Culture, in Washington, D.C. May 12-13. Former federation chairperson Rita L. Haynes, CEO of the Faith Community United CU based in Cleveland, Ohio, will be honored at a luncheon on May 13 during the conference. Another federation board member, Mississippi State Sen. Robert L. Jackson, will be a featured speaker. The federation is co-sponsoring the conference, said Cliff Rosenthal, federation president/CEO. He noted the institute's research "shows tremendous appreciation and support for the role of credit unions, and we're very excited about the possibilities for collaboration." David Blankenhorn, president of the institute, said it is committed to spreading the word about the role the federation and community development credit unions play in serving low-income communities. Keynote speakers at the conference will include U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas); Harold Ford Jr., chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council; and Ken Eiden, CEO of Prospera CU, Appleton, Wis.

CU System briefs (04/11/2008)

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* SEATTLE (4/14/08)--SHARE CU, a $32 million asset Seattle credit union that served primarily health care employees, will merge into Seattle-based, $500 million-plus asset Watermark CU by the end of May, the credit unions announced Friday. SHARE's members voted to approve the merger last week. Watermark, which originally served telephone company employees, now serves anyone living or working in Washington state. Watermark will retain all of SHARE's employees and its two/Seattle-based branches. SHARE said it sought proposals for a merger and chose Watermark because it will honor SHARE's links to area medical centers and provide increased access to financial products at a better price. This is Watermark's third merger in four years … * RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (4/14/08)--California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues Senior Events Manager Neil Schwartz was featured in a recent article in MiMegasite, an online publication for meeting, convention, incentive and trade show professionals, and in the April edition of Successful Meetings magazine. The article discussed how a fire at Monte Carlo Hotel in Las Vegas in late January displaced the league's conference scheduled at the hotel. Schwartz needed to move four sets of breakouts with meals and two general sessions, plus welcome receptions for the league event. The Monte Carlo transferred the meeting to the Bellagio, which honored Monte Carlo's rates for food, beverage, audio visual services and rooms. Schwartz recommended "regular and immediate contact with your attendees when the situation is up in the air." He used blast e-mails and updates on the league's websites to communicate with attendees … * RALEIGH, N.C. (4/14/08)--State Employees' Credit Union (SECU) Foundation has partnered with the North Carolina National Guard Association Educational Foundation to provide a $10,000 scholarship to study at one of the UNC System Universities and a $5,000 scholarship to study at a community college within the North Carolina Community College System. Recipients, to be selected by the National Guard foundation, must be a child or grandchild of a North Carolina National Guard unit soldier or airman placed into any military service and who became permanently disabled or died during active duty … * FREMONT, Ohio (4/14/08)--Fremont FCU donated $125,000 to Investment in the Future, a major gift campaign at Terra Community College, according to The News-Messenger (April 8). Anthony Camilleri, CEO of the $130 million asset credit union, said education has always been a mainstay of the credit union movement. Investing in the local community college sustains the movement's ongoing philosophy of service to members and communities, he added …

N.H. league included in state payday loan study group

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CONCORD, N.H. (4/14/08)--The New Hampshire House Commerce Committee has begun hearings on a bill to study responsible options for consumer credit to replace payday loans. It would create a commission that would include a representative from the New Hampshire Credit Union League. Senate Bill 472 would form a 17-member commission that would include representatives of the league, the Attorney General's office, the Banking Department, the Consumer Credit Counseling Association, among others (NHPoliticker.com April 10). It would be charged with studying the potential for new products to provide responsible consumer credit to people without charging exorbitant interest rates or fees. S.B. 472 is a companion to an earlier bill, House Bill 267, that capped interest rates at 36%. HB 267 was passed by the House and Senate, and Gov. John Lynch plans to sign the bill into law, said Rob Kimmett, senior vice president of marketing/public relations at the league. The league testified in support of the earlier house bill, but does not plan to introduce testimony on the current bill. "This bill involves no controversy and there is no need for the league to testify on its behalf," Kimmett told News Now. S.B. 472 is dependent on H.B. 267 becoming law, he said. The commission would be required to present its findings and recommendations by Nov. 14. "The league is happy to be involved in any efforts to ensure that the people of New Hampshire have access to affordable and fairly priced and honest credit," said Kimmett.

Interview process is underway for CUAO CEO

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BEAVERTON, Ore. (4/14/08)--The interview process in the search for a new CEO of the Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) should be completed by the end of the month. The CUAO board of directors asked HR Value Group to assist in the search for a new CEO. HR Value Group began the search in January after CUAO gave the firm its criteria for selecting the future leader of the association (Oregon Outlook April 2008). After contacting more than 400 prospects nationwide, HR Value Group narrowed the field to 43 candidates. Using phone screening, the company narrowed the field further to 19 candidates. “The individuals come from varying backgrounds: executives at credit union leagues nationwide, CEOs with league or credit union service organization involvement, and other trade association executives,” said Shirley Cate, CUAO board chair, and CEO of Providence Health System FCU, Portland. The CUAO search committee met with HR Value Group and determined to interview nine of the 19 individuals selected will move on to the next level and will be directly interviewed by HR Value Group. Once the initial interviews are completed, the CUAO board will conduct face-to-face interviews with the finalists. Former CUAO President/CEO Gene Poitras retired Nov. 30 after 32 years with the association.

Latino Community CU film at Chicago film festival

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CHICAGO (4/14/08)--“Los Suenos de Angelica” (“Angelica’s Dreams”), the first Latino feature-length independent film made in North Carolina, was screened Saturday at Chicago’s Latino Film Festival. “Angelica’s Dreams” is the film version of Latino Community CU’s (LCCU) three-part dramatic mini-series dedicated to financial education, with a special emphasis on home- buying education, said the North Carolina Credit Union League (Weekly Update April 7). The film is part of LCCU’s Home Buyer Education (HBE) program, which contains a guide and a companion video series. LCCU will provide 25,000 copies of the guide and 1,200 copies of the video to be used nationwide by other credit unions, community centers and other organizations. “We recognize that the overwhelming majority of our more than 50,000 members has little or no experience with financial services, and therefore, need extensive financial education to integrate into the mainstream U.S. financial system,” said Angel Romero, LCCU director of marketing and communications. “Financial literacy is a fundamental part of LCCU’s mission,” he added. “All of our products are designed to promote financial education in the community, as well as meet the unique needs of members. Using video to educate our members and the community in general is a fabulous tool to spread our message.” LCCU produced “Angelica’s Dreams” with a grant from the Community Development Financial Institution Fund, a program of the U.S. Treasury Department.

Delegation from Indias co-op banks visits WOCCU

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MADISON, Wis. (4/14/08)--Ten CEOs and board chairs from India's cooperative banks visited the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) last week as part of the group's tour of North American credit unions and their associations.
Pete Crear, left, president/CEO of theWorld Council of Credit Unions, presents a welcome gift to Bhima Subrahmanyam, managing director of India's National Federation of State Cooperative Banks. (Photo provided by the World Council of Credit Unions)
The delegation, all members of India's National Federation of State Cooperative Banks (NAFSCOB), is part of a restructuring program to address nonperforming loans and governance issues in rural financial cooperatives. WOCCU has offered to technical assistance to the cooperative banks in support of the government's economic reform efforts. The two-week tour includes visits to the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions and Lower Eastside People's FCU, New York; Credit Union Central of Canada and Credit Union Central of Ontario in Toronto; Community One FCU, Las Vegas; WesCorp; and Water & Power CU, Los Angeles. The group's interests include credit union regulatory efforts, taxation, technology, and human resource and management issues, according to Bhima Subrahmanyam, NAFSCOB's managing director. “We'd especially like to understand your regulatory mechanism and its impact on credit unions,“ Subrahmanyam said. “Competition and capital adequacy requirements are also of interest. Indian cooperatives haven't been meeting their capital requirements due to poor resources.“ India is in the process of a $3.4 billion reform and recapitalization of its financial cooperative sector, with financial support from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. Those efforts are supported by a controversial plan to forgive $15 billion in non-performing loans to small Indian farmers. Of that amount, roughly $8.5 billion will go to forgive loans granted by India's cooperative financial institutions. India's cooperatives recently lost their tax-exempt status, putting additional pressures on institutions to provide services, Subrahmanyam said. The National Bank for Agricultural and Rural Development is responsible for the reforms and recapitalization, a process in which WOCCU hopes to assist through the influence of NAFSCOB and its member cooperatives. WOCCU President/CEO Pete Crear applauded the work of the cooperative bank federation and its members in serving members. “We hope this is the beginning of a closer relationship between our two organizations,“ he said. Now more than 100 years old, India's financial cooperative system is the largest in the world in terms of people served. Credit union pioneer Edward A. Filene's visit to India's financial cooperatives in 1906 inspired him to help launch the U.S. credit union movement. In addition to presentations from WOCCU staff, the delegation also heard from the Credit Union National Association, CUNA Mutual Group and Heartland CU, all located in Madison, Wis. The National Federation of Urban Cooperative Banks and Credit Societies, India's trade association for urban cooperatives, is an associate member of WOCCU.

Kansas governor makes appointments to Kansas CU Council

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TOPEKA, Kan. (4/14/08)--Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius appointed one new member and reappointed two members to the Kansas Credit Union Council. Sue Ellen Henke, Topeka, works for the Kansas Department of Labor and will serve on the council as a public member. Sebelius also reappointed Alvis Lee Williams, president, Central Star CU, Wichita, and Cheryl Bonner, manager, Wakarusa Valley CU, Lawrence. “We are pleased with the governor’s timely appointment and reappointments of the qualified candidates to the Kansas Credit Union Council,” said Marla Marsh, president/CEO, Kansas Credit Union Association. “The council is a strong sounding board for the Kansas Department of Credit Unions on regulatory issues.” The Council supervises and regulates credit unions and is an adviser of the Kansas Department of Credit Unions.

CUs on the Tube Filenes 30 under 30 group targets youth

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MADISON, Wis. (4/11/08)--Credit unions looking to target the younger generation can listen to a new podcast for tips from the Filene Research Institute’s “30 under 30” group. In the podcast, group members Amy Stanton, Matt Davis and Robin Hickey talk about what credit unions are doing to attract members of Generation Y as a part of Filene’s “CU Tomorrow” program. To hear the podcast, use the link.

CUs start decorating for Youth Week

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MADISON, Wis. (4/14/08)--Credit unions around the nation are preparing for the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) National Credit Union Youth Week April 20-26. Some have already undergone financial literacy activities to honor April as Financial Literacy Month. NAFT FCU, Pharr, Texas, held a Mad City Money Seminar, purchased through CUNA, at a local high school this week as a part of Financial Literacy Month. About 200 students attended, and 25 of the credit union’s 42 employees participated. “It was an eye-opening experience for the students and a great opportunity for our credit union to promote financial literacy,” Becky Palacios, NAFT marketing director told News Now. TopLine FCU, Maple Grove, Minn., created Get Smart With Your Money, an initiative to encourage youth and their parents to talk about money. The credit union will offer seminars, saving challenges and giveaways at each of its seven branches. “It’s important for kids of all ages to understand how money works and how to make informed financial decisions at some level,” said Mark Hodowanic, TopLine market manager. “Our seminars will cover spending and saving money, balancing needs and wants, using and managing credit effectively, budgeting, and paying yourself first. “We’ll help kids learn how to develop their own personal spending and savings plans by encouraging them to open a share savings account. And if they do it here, we’ll even match their first $25 in savings,” he added. Other credit unions have begun decorating their branches to align with this year’s Youth Week theme, “Got Green? Grow it at Your Credit Union.” Caswell CU, South Burlington, Vt., will allow youth to add a leaf to a large tree on the wall each time they make a deposit. The credit union also will give youth a pine tree sapling to plant in their yard. Family Financial CU, Muskegon, Mich., will give away seed packets for each deposit, piggy banks for every new account, and hold coloring contests. The credit union also will have posters of flower stems and blank dollar bills that can be colored and put on the stem. Baylands FCU, West Point, Va., decorated a teller window decorated to make children feel welcome. Youth aged 12 and younger making deposits of $15 or more will receive a prize of the day--which range from jump ropes to tree saplings. Teens making deposits of $50 or more will receive a green hackey sack. Beaver Valley FCU, Beaver Falls, Pa., is distributing Youth Week reminder slips with each member receipt. On April 25, the credit union will help children plant marigold seedlings to take home. Juice boxes and snacks will be distributed. Each youth making a deposit during Youth Week will be entered into a drawing to win one of four $100 savings bonds. Rogue FCU, Medford, Ore., is hosting five field trips for first-graders at local elementary schools. It also will host a movie night, deposit contests, and credit classes at local high schools, and will have downloadable “go green” coloring pages on its website. South Carolina FCU, Charleston, S.C., will offer a cash prize to children who report the best green practices. Children can receive a $1,000 deposit to a education savings account or a $1,000 share certificate with a five-year term (Charleston Post and Courier April 10). Thirty eighth grade students from Rogers Herr Year Round Middle School in Durham, N.C., are scheduled to tour Latino Community CU and Generations CU during Youth Week. Credit union staff will provide information about credit unions and will host a financial board game called “Cashflow for Kids” to teach them about money, said the North Carolina Credit Unions League’s Weekly Update (April 9). Credit unions can purchase marketing materials for Youth Week, such as posters, seeds, and statement stuffers, from CUNA. For more information, use the link.