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California CUs flooded by former IndyMac clients

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LOS ANGELES (7/18/08)--California credit unions have seen a flood of IndyMac customers after the troubled thrift was taken over by federal regulators last week, reports the San Gabriel Valley Tribune (7/18/08). E-Central CU and Wescom CU in Pasadena both told the newspaper that former IndyMac customers’ inquiries have focused on safety, security and deposit insurance. Wescom spokesman Joe Schaeffer said consumers seem to be looking for “some level of comfort and reassurance.” Many new members have parked their funds in money markets because it’s safe and liquid. Pasadena-based IndyMac Bancorp Inc., suffered a severe downward slide in recent months as a result of a meltdown in the nation's housing and mortgage markets. E-Central President/CEO Mike Theodore said he believed the mortgage lender's demise “was greed related.” “That's the difference between a for-profit company and a not-for-profit company," he told the newspaper, which pointed out that credit unions are non-profit institutions owned and operated entirely by their members. Meanwhile, other California newspapers reported the state’s more than 500 credit unions “remain safe and sound and continue to demonstrate positive growth.” California Credit Union League Analyst Daniel Penrod told the Fontana Herald News “while other financial institutions are experiencing financial difficulties and restricting services, California credit unions are well capitalized and in a great position to continue serving consumers." He reiterated that credit union deposits are insured by the “National Credit Union Administration, an agency of the federal government, up to $100,000 per account with additional coverage of up to $250,000 for certain retirement accounts, and also by private insurers,” said Penrod. “Not one cent of taxpayer funds has ever been used to bail out a credit union,” he said. Read the complete stories online using the resource links below.

Southwest Corp. white paper makes a case for mortgages

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PLANO, Texas (7/18/08)--Despite turmoil in the mortgage market caused by foreclosures on subprime real estate properties, mortgage lending still offers many opportunities for credit unions, according to a Southwest Corporate Investment Services white paper. “Making a Case for Mortgages” by Joe Arnold, senior advisor with Southwest Corporate’s advisory service, looks at the benefits of mortgage lending for credit unions in today’s turbulent marketplace (Southwest Corporate eFacts July 8). The paper refutes the notion that retaining mortgage originations--even in today’s environment--is too risky. “In addition to providing a service that your members need, mortgage lending continues to offer relative value,” Arnold said. The paper discusses:
* The outlook for mortgage originations this year; * The overall credit quality of credit union mortgage loans; * Credit unions’ current interest-rate risk position, and * Ways to mitigate risk.
“The bottom line is that credit quality of credit union mortgage loans remains high, interest rate risk is manageable, and current spreads make mortgage lending a valuable opportunity for credit unions,” Arnold said.

N.Y. Foundation introduces new grant-making program

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ALBANY, N.Y. (7/18/08)--The New York Credit Union Foundation (NYCUF) recently announced a new grant-making program designed to provide community-based organizations with funding for financial education programs and services. Grants of $500 to $2,500 will be awarded to non-profit organizations located in New York State that partner with credit unions to implement their projects. Many types of projects will be considered for funding, including, but not limited to:
* Youth or adult financial education programs; * Homeownership programs or services; * Financial counseling; * Transaction-services access being provided to the "unbanked"; * Microfinance loans; * Savings building awareness; * Tax preparation; * Entrepreneurship; * Train-the-trainer programs; * Activities that prepare students and teachers for a successful learning experience; * Programs that develop leadership skills of students and educators; and * Collaborations between credit unions and schools or community organizations.
“Through this grant-making program, credit unions will be able to offer their local community-based organizations another potential funding source,” said Diane LaVigna-Wixted, executive director of NYCUF. “We hope to support existing partnerships and encourage new ones.” Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through Oct. 31 and may be downloaded by visiting the foundation’s website. Applicants will be notified within five weeks from the date of receipt. To be eligible for consideration, 501 (c) (3) non-profit organizations must be located in New York State with a full-time professional staff, deliver programs and services in New York State and have a credit union as a project partner. Funding for community-based organizations grants is made possible through the Community Investment Fund.

BizKid star interviewed on Chicago radio station

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (7/18/08)--A BizKid$ cast member was recently interviewed by Bill Mollar of “The Money Show” on WGN AM 720 in Chicago about her experiences with BizKid$, a show that teaches youth about money, according to the Illinois Credit Union League.
Elizabeth Wright, a cast member of BizKid$, was interviewed by Bill Mollar of “The Money Show” on WGN AM 720 in Chicago. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
“I am passionate about getting financial education information out to others--there’s just not enough of it available,” said Elizabeth “Lizzie” Wright during the interview. Wright makes her own clothing and brings her sewing machine to the BizKid$ set to use during down time. Her specialty is altering prom dresses. Wright was joined by executive producer Jamie Hammond at the interview. Hammond said the program helps showcase youth who have put their foot in the door of the business world. “A college education is just not enough these days,” she said. BizKid$ airs on 311 public broadcasting stations nationwide. It is underwritten by America's Credit Unions. The show is produced in association with Junior Achievement Worldwide and WXXI Public Broadcasting. Funding is led by the National Credit Union Foundation and the Washington Credit Union Foundation.

CU System briefs (07/17/2008)

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* BATON ROUGE, La. (7/18/08)--E FCU, Baton Rouge, La., hosted its
Click to view larger image Click for larger view
first-annual Camp SmartMoney, a financial education day camp for teens ages 13 and older. The weeklong camp was held at the Burnside Branch in Gonzales, La., and teens learned about managing their money. The camp used materials from Junior Achievement and the National Endowment for Financial Education. “I am very excited and thankful for the important real-word skills my granddaughter learned during the camp,” said Mary Lacey, grandmother of camper Lacey James. “Each day, she would rush home excited about what she learned and her plan for a summer dog-walking business and how she planned to spend some of her earnings and save some, too." Pictured are (from back left) Sherrell Briggs; John Thomas, Jr.; Christopher Armstrong; Lacey James; Valencia Patterson; Colby Braud; Satasha Patterson; and Wyatt Braud. (Photo provided by E FCU) ... * PITTSFIELD, Maine (7/18/08)--Sebasticook Valley FCU announced that it is bringing back its 0% Energy Loan Program, which allows members to borrow up to $3,000 to cover the cost of home heating. The program offers 0% financing over 12 months. Qualifying members receive a check made payable to their fuel provider ... * EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (7/18/08)--Royal CU, Eau Claire, Wis., raised $11,600 with the RCU Charity Classic June 28 for the Wisconsin Youth Sports Program (WYSP). The program serves more than 10,000 youth at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. More than 840 participated in the charity classic. Pictured are: (left) Lisa Schuetz, WYSP activity director; Brian Levin-Stankevich, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire chancellor; Carla Lueck, Royal CU community relations coordinator; Mark Willer, Royal CU CEO; and Vicki Reed, WYSP project administrator. (Photo provided by Royal CU) ...

CU robbery suspects arrested after seven-hour standoff

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WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (7/18/08)--Men suspected of robbing a West Valley City branch of Salt Lake City-based Premier Services CU were arrested by police Tuesday after a seven-hour standoff at a home in the area, according to media reports. Two men, one carrying a handgun, entered Premier Services CU Tuesday afternoon at 2:45 p.m. and ordered the branch’s three employees to the floor. They emptied the cash register and left, Dennis Murray, Premier Services CU CEO, told News Now. No employees were injured during the robbery, but they were shaken, Murray said. Murray confirmed that the credit union’s employees saw two men, but noted that a witness outside of the credit union said she saw a third individual in a car that the robbers used to escape. He later learned from media reports that police arrested six individuals at a standoff, he said. John Bizzle, 20, Corey Morrison, 18, and George Dumas, 58, were arrested for the Premier Services CU robbery and are being held in a local jail, according to the Salt Lake Tribune (July 16). Three others, whose names have not yet been released, also were arrested at the standoff. The robbery at Premier Services CU took place about one hour before the standoff, West Valley Police Capt. Steve Sandquist told the Tribune. The credit union has not yet stated the amount of money stolen in the incident.

WOCCU conference highlights CU movement in Africa

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HONG KONG (7/18/08)--World Credit Union Conference attendees gained insights into credit union development in Africa on the last morning of the World Council of Credit Union's (WOCCU) annual event Wednesday, both through the eyes of one of the region's most influential leaders and by “traveling” directly to Kenya.
Click to view larger imageKeynote speaker Dr. Anna Tibaijuka, United Nations under-secretary general and executive director of UN-HABITAT in Nairobi, outlined the urgent need for affordable housing worldwide and the role that credit unions and the African savings and credit cooperatives, known as SACCOs, can play to help meet this need. She spoke Wednesday at the World Council of Credit Unions conference in Hong Kong.
The World Credit Union Conference, an annual event organized by WOCCU and its host member countries, concluded Wednesday. Keynote speaker Dr. Anna Tibaijuka, United Nations under-secretary general and executive director of UN-HABITAT in Nairobi, outlined the urgent need for affordable housing worldwide and the role that credit unions and the African savings and credit cooperatives, known as SACCOs, can play to help meet this need. Tibaijuka's oversight includes housing issues, and her presentation was a plea for assistance in meeting one of the most basic and dire needs of the world's poor. “In Africa, 72% of the urban population are slum dwellers, and in Asia, 46% are slum dwellers,” Tibaijuka told the audience. “And those who benefit by exploiting the poor don't want things to change.” Poor housing means much more than a lack of shelter, Tabaijuka explained. It causes malnutrition, poor health, low self-esteem and a raft of social issues, including crime and substance abuse. Rising food prices have only exacerbated the problem, she added. The demand for affordable housing is reaching a critical level worldwide, with 5 million new units required per year, or 4,000 new housing alternatives needed every hour by a growing population of poor, Tibaijuka said. That's not counting replacing the current inventory of substandard housing. “The advantages [of supporting the development of affordable housing] are great, and each of us must play a role,” Tibaijuka added. “The knowledge and efforts on the part of credit unions can help millions.”
Click to view larger imagePete Crear, president/CEO, Work Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) (left), talked to WOCCU Program Manger Erick Sile (in yellow shirt) and African Savings and credit cooperative staff during a live video feed with Kenya at the World Council of Credit Unions conference in Hong Kong Wednesday. (Photos provided by Patrick Leung)
The keynote address was followed by a visit to Africa, courtesy of a live computer uplink directly to a SACCO in Kenya sponsored by Tandberg. WOCCU Program Manager Erick Sile anchored a brief discussion between WOCCU President/CEO Pete Crear and SACCO staff and members. Kenya currently has 4,000 SACCOs serving more than 4 million people, said Sile, manager of one of WOCCU's three development programs in Kenya. Sile described the way SACCOs were largely protected by their members from looting and burning during election riots and civil unrest earlier in the year. SACCO managers explained the service offered to microentrepreneurs, two of whom were present on the call. The conference closed with a speech by Khoa Do, a young Vietnamese expatriate, who survived personal peril and poverty to immigrate with his family to Australia. Do grew up to become a filmmaker who led a group of troubled youth to create a feature-length film that garnered critical acclaim, earning him the honor of being the 2005 Young Australian of the Year. “As you face your greatest obstacles you will also often find your greatest opportunities,” Do said. “Appreciate what you have and follow your heart. You will succeed.”

WOCCU awards distinguished service young CU people honors

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HONG KONG (7/18/08)--The World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) awarded its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award, to two individuals and a foundation during the closing ceremonies of the World Credit Union Conference in Hong Kong. WOCCU also recognized the achievements of five young credit union leaders participating in the WOCCU Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) program.
Click to view larger image Chris Baker, former president/CEO of WOCCU, accepted the Distinguished Service Award during the World Council of Credit Unions’ World Credit Union Conference in Hong Kong. (Photos provided by Patrick Leung)
Distinguished Service Awards were presented to Chris Baker, former president/CEO of WOCCU, and Karen Schwartz, former executive director for Americas Association of Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Societies. Both Baker and Schwartz were recognized for their lifetime commitment to global cooperative development. Schwartz stressed the importance of cultivating more effective relationships among cooperative organizations. “Cooperation among cooperatives can be very difficult if you've ever taken any major steps in that direction,” said Schwartz. “But we need to reach out together to give a helping hand to a lot more poor people.” WOCCU also presented a Distinguished Service Award to the Credit Union Foundation Australia (CUFA) for its leadership in domestic and international credit union development activities. CUFA's programs in Sri Lanka, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Fiji, Timor, Tuvalu and Cambodia have helped create access to financial services for disadvantaged communities.
Click to view larger image Peter Mason accepted the Distinguished Service Award for the Credit Union Foundation Australia during the World Council of Credit Unions’ World Credit Union Conference in Hong Kong.
CUFA's executive director Peter Mason, who accepted the award, acknowledged the efforts of everyone working in the projects in his remarks. “It's the volunteers involved and the energy they commit that leads to success,” said Mason. “In many cases, they build the credit unions with nothing but determination, and I gratefully accept this award on their behalf.” Also honored at the ceremony were 19 WYCUP program participants from eight countries. Of those nominees, five were selected as the 2008 WYCUP awardees:
* Joe Argo, Credit Union Central of Ontario, Canada; * Anna Corona, AEA FCU; * Nicholas May, Community CPS Australia; * Rachel Milan, Credit Union Central of Ontario, sponsored by The Co-operators, Canada; and * Rafal Sokolowski, Copernicus CU, Poland.
The award winners earned an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2009 World Credit Union Conference in Barcelona, Spain. At the WOCCU Supporters reception earlier in the week, two participants were honored for their outstanding contributions. The WOCCU Ambassador Award was presented to Richard “Dick“ Ensweiler, president/CEO of the Texas Credit Union League and a long-time WOCCU Supporter who played a major role in WOCCU's recent “Keep China Mutual“ campaign. CUDA, an Irish credit union trade association, was honored for its $75,000 supporter contribution. At WOCCU's annual general meeting, the board of directors presented an award to Russian delegates on behalf of Dina Plakhotnaya, considered the “mother” of the Russian credit union movement. Plakhotnaya was unable to attend the conference to accept her award.