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IWashington PostI CUs fill void when payday lenders leave

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WASHINGTON (7/29/08)--Credit unions in the Washington, D.C., area are filling the void left by payday lenders who vacated the city after interest rates in the District were capped at 24% in January, says Saturday's Washington Post. The article describes how Treasury Department FCU helped Stephanie Vann, a single mother, with a $500 six-month loan at 16% annual percentage rate--far lower than the typical payday loan rate of 300% and more. The credit union loan cleared her payday debt and put her on her feet. She now has a checking account at the credit union. The Post noted that at least half a dozen credit unions are attempting to use payday lending alternatives as a tool to improve financial health of borrowers and that the credit unions' programs could be key in making the district's new interest-rate cap work without unintentionally harming low-income borrowers. There's still a long way to go. The Post notes that "stretch pay" payday lending alternatives offered at 43 credit unions nationwide have issued 8,656 loans, with a few hundred made in Washington, D.C. That compares with 260,000 loans worth $125 million made by the two largest payday lenders in the district. Jennifer Porter, chief advocacy officer at the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association, told the Post that district credit unions' willingness to pick up the small loans is actually a convergence of two trends--the district's move to cap interest rates charged by payday lenders and credit unions' already-in-progress payday loan alternatives. The article also mentions Andrews CU, Clinton, Md.; CUNA Mutual Group; the Center for Responsible Lending; and HEW FCU, Alexandria, Va. Use the resource link for the full article.

RMJ Foundation celebrates half-century mark

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RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. (7/29/08)--The Richard Myles Johnson (RMJ) Foundation is celebrating 50 years of supporting financial education and is looking ahead to promoting youth financial education and scholarship programs for credit union staff and volunteers. In the coming months, the RMJ Foundation will be busy with:
* RMJ/WesCorp Golf Classic, Aug. 25, Dana Point, Calif.; * Credit Union Train, which will make its annual voyage through the Garden Railroad of the Los Angeles County Fair Sept. 5-28; * The Golden 1 Leadership Scholars Program, which offers scholarships to current or future CEOs of credit unions up to $300 million in assets to attend leadership development programs; and * The Beacon Awards Gala Reception, Nov. 4, San Francisco. The awards honor those who promote the principles of the credit union movement through education.
The RMJ Foundation also is partnering with USA Today to deliver the newspaper’s Choice is Power financial literacy program to 55 schools in California and Nevada. The foundation distributed about $60,000 in community service grants this year, including:
* A grant to Community Trust CU, Modesto, Calif., to support its financial literacy program for at-risk, low-income youth in Palo Alto; * A grant to Jones Methodist Church CU, San Francisco, to continue its Financial Boot Camp for youth; * Help to launch a partnership between eight Northern California credit unions and the San Francisco Unified School District establish a multi-lingual, multicultural credit union-based financial literacy program in the school district.
The foundation provided more than $40,000 in scholarships to credit union staff and volunteers to attend educational seminars and conferences, and $24,000 to those attending Western CUNA Management School this summer. The RMJ Foundation was formed in 1958 as the California Filene Educational Foundation by 30 California credit union pioneers. In 2000, the foundation was named after Richard Myles Johnson, retired CEO of Western Corporate FCU. In 2005, it focused on youth financial literacy and has helped to fund the Biz Kid$ television series.

Staff at CUNA Mutual aid co-workers in tornadoes floods

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WAVERLY, Iowa (7/29/08)--CUNA Mutual Group and its employees contributed nearly $32,000 to fellow workers and their families in Iowa affected by May tornadoes and $13,000 for employees affected by June flooding. CUNA Mutual employees nationwide raised money for employees and their families who were impacted by the tornadoes’ resulting devastation. Those employee contributions were matched by the company. "We are grateful for the generosity showed by our fellow employees through their contribution of personal dollars to help CUNA Mutual staff, and for our company's willingness to match these generous donations," said Reid Koenig, vice president, customer operations. On May 25, tornadoes ravaged a four-county area in Northeast Iowa near Waverly where CUNA Mutual employs more than 550. Then, widespread flooding hit much of Iowa in early June, including Waverly, where employees’ homes and one CUNA Mutual business location had to be evacuated. Tornado-related contributions were disbursed to employees and their families who endured significant losses. Some employees’ contributions are being directed to the communities of Parkersburg, Dunkerton and New Hartford, which sustained significant damage from the tornado. Flood-related donations, currently at $13,000, will also be matched by CUNA Mutual funds and distributed to employees. Lissa Miller, a compliance specialist in Waverly, and her family were on the receiving end of tornado-relief contributions from the co-workers and company. “My family was awestruck when they opened the checks. Their jaws dropped at the generosity of such wonderful people whom we work with every day. I want to express my sincere appreciation of what the company has done for my family," Miller said.

32400 bottles of water donated by Arizona State CU

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PHOENIX (7/29/08)--Arizona State CU donated more than 1,350 cases of bottled water and $1,800 to the Phoenix Rescue Mission. The water is enough to support the needs of the mission for at least six weeks, the credit union said Friday. The credit union started the water drive three weeks ago with the goal of raising 500 cases of water. Associates donated $5, or a case of water, for a chance to sink their favorite executive into a dunk tank. Departmental teams competed against each other to raise money. The winning team brought in 450 cases. The lobby was filled with cases of water, creating a “pyramid of life,” according to the credit union. “It was outstanding to see our associates get so involved in this water drive, directly impacting the community,” said David E. Doss, Arizona State CU president/CEO. The Phoenix Rescue Mission’s priority is to provide heat relief to homeless people in the area. The temperatures are in the triple digits, and those living on the street are at high risk for dehydration. Arizona State CU has $1.2 billion in assets.

CU offering disaster relief for Dolly victims

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SAN ANTONIO, Texas (7/29/08)--Texas-based Security Service FCU (SSFCU) is offering a financial disaster relief program to help members and potential members recover from Hurricane Dolly. The hurricane, a Category 2, hit Brownsville, Texas, last week. The storm damaged some buildings in southern Texas and northeastern Mexico and caused some flooding (News Now July 25). Residents of Rio Grande Valley, Corpus Christi and Coastal Bend, Texas, will have access to:
* $1,000 pre-approved emergency relief loans at 3.95% for a maximum term of 12 months for existing SSFCU members; * $2,500 qualifying emergency relief loans at 4.95% for a maximum term of 24 months for qualifying SSFCU members; and * An emergency 30-day skip payment program with no fee.
“We’re offering these options to assist our members as they work to get things back to normal during this difficult time,” said David Reynolds, president/CEO of SSFCU. “Security Service is committed to helping our members and the community, especially when they are in need of our support the most.”

Montana CU group to receive NCUFs Wegner Award

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HELENA, Mont. (7/29/08)--Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (MCUCD)--the five-year-old philanthropic arm of the Montana Credit Union Network--will receive the Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Organization for its work in helping 50,000 people.
Click to view larger imageOne of the events sponsored by Herb Wegner Memorial Award recipient Montana Credit Unions for Community Development was the Montana REAL Solutions Payday Lending Alternatives kickoff, with Nancy Pierce, president of Tipton Research Group, Kansas City, Mo., speaking (Photo provided by the National Credit Union Foundation)
The award will be presented Feb. 23 at the 21st Annual Wegner Awards Dinner hosted by the National Credit Union Foundation. The event will be at the Grand Hyatt Washington during the Credit Union National Association’s 2009 Governmental Affairs Conference. “We are proud of the real difference our organization is making in our state with 62 innovative credit unions," said Montana Credit Union Network President Tracie Kenyon. "On behalf of the 50,000 people we have helped (to) avoid predatory loans, keep more of their earned income, and open their first savings accounts, we thank the NCUF Awards & Recognition Committee for choosing the underdogs for this award.” “This organization really gets it," said NCUF Awards & Recognition Committee Chairman Bob Schumacher, CEO of MountainCrest CU, Arlington, Wash. "For credit unions to truly grow and thrive, we have to partner with other organizations who know the people most in need of credit union services. By following this innovative example, credit unions could reach millions more potential members and serve them for the greater good,” Schumacher said. MCUCD’s mission is to “implement programs, through credit unions, that improve the social and economic well-being of Montanans.” Most of its activities are directed toward serving the state’s low-wealth population. Montana’s median household income of $33,024 is substantially lower than the national average of $42,000. Fifty of Montana’s 62 credit unions have the National Credit Union Administration’s “low-income” designation. MCUCD’s services are packaged to aggregate resources and create “plug and play” products for credit unions to implement:
* Alternatives to Payday Lending--offering low-cost alternatives to meet short-term borrowing needs; * Credit Union Resource Center--web-based tools helping consumers make smarter financial decisions; * Early Awareness--educating parents of elementary-aged school children about planning and saving for college; * Financial Education--reaching classrooms, community centers, and boardrooms; * Individual Development Accounts--special matched savings accounts that encourage low-income members to become regular savers by doubling or tripling their principal; and * Volunteer Income Tax Assistance--free tax preparation sites in person and on the Internet, returning more than $1 million in Earned Income Tax Credits to working low-income families.
To grow and sustain these programs, MCUCD forged partnerships with 22 local, state and national organizations. Partners provided volunteer workers, strategic and capitalization planning, teacher training and consumer education, and $824,233 in grants. "Partnerships with MCUCD are about coming together with the resources of all partners and working together to make the best use of the gifts, talents, and resources that everyone contributes," said Kelly Chapman, executive director of the Student Assistance Foundation. "Many organizations espouse this philosophy, but too few actually live it. That’s why it’s so refreshing to work with MCUCD," Chapman added. Named for late Credit Union National Association CEO Herb Wegner, the awards recognize the spirit of “innovative, creative, risk-taking leadership.” Online registration for the awards dinner will be available later this year at

CUNA addresses plastic use in IWall Street JournalI

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NEW YORK (7/29/08)--The Credit Union National Association’s chief economist, Bill Hampel, commented on the discipline consumers need when using credit cards in an article in The Wall Street Journal Sunday. “The key to using plastic is having the discipline to count the charges as part of monthly expenditures,” Hampel told the newspaper. “That way you get the float, the convenience of using plastic and you get the goodies--the cash back or frequent flier miles.” The article provided eight tips for consumers to curb their credit card spending. For the tips and full article, use the link.

CU System briefs (07/28/2008)

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* HARRISBURG, Pa. (7/29/08)--Sayre, Pa.-based Guthrie FCU became the proud owner of "Cinnamon"--a 217-lb. pig--after 9-year-old Ryan Richardson, a member of the Grandville Squealers 4-H Club, convinced credit union CEO Erie Chase to participate in the 4-H auction at the 133rd Troy Fair July 23. To help the 4-H members, bidders ran up the price per pound to nearly eight times the market value of 55 cents per pound. Chase, with the help of Nancy DelGrippo, financial services rep at the credit union's Troy branch, had the winning bid. Since the Troy branch has a designation to serve the underserved, the credit union elected to have the meat divided to serve four needy families within its membership (Life is a Highway July 28) … * RIVERSIDE, Calif. (7/29/08)--Altura CU nearly doubled the college scholarships it granted this year to graduating high school seniors. It granted $42,000 in scholarships, with 42 recipients each receiving $1,000. "We had a record number of students, 327, apply for scholarships this year," said Ricki McManuis, senior vice president of corporate communications at the credit union and board member of the Altura CU Foundation. Since it began offering scholarships in 1993, the credit union has granted them to more than 200 students. The program is funded by credit union members--$5 from the one-time $12 membership fee goes to the scholarship fund … * MARIETTA, Ga. (7/29/08)--LGE Community CU President/CEO Edwin J. Collins will retire, effective Dec. 31, announced the credit union's board. Chris A. Leggett, LGE Community's executive vice president and chief financial officer (CFO), has been appointed as his replacement. Collins, who has been president/CEO since 1995, joined the credit union (formerly known as Lockheed Georgia Employees' FCU) in 1984. He was recipient of the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates' Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. From 1964 to 1984, Collins served in various positions for the National Credit Union Administration. He held many positions with national organizations, including serving on the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs and Renaissance committees. Leggett, before joining the credit union last fall, was president/CEO of First Coast Community CU. He held earlier positions at PSCU Financial Services, a credit union service organization, and at First Florida CU, where he was CFO. He is on the board of Credit Union 24, an ATM network owned by credit unions … * MUSKEGO, Wis. (7/29/08)--Corporate Central CU has hired Ellen Janevicius as relatioknship development officer for Corporate Central's Illinois market, the corporate announced. She will meet with members and future members of the corporate to determine their needs and provide correspondent, investment and liquidity solutions. Janevicius worked at HealthCare Associations CU, Naperville, Ill., for 11 years as marketing manager and was a member of the Illinois Credit Union League Marketing Exchange … * PARMA, Ohio (7/29/08)--David Straight, former president of the Ohio Credit Union League, died July 19 in Parma, Ohio. He was 81. A retired high school teacher, he worked full time as treasurer/manager of the Public School Employees CU, which he founded in 1955. He retired from the credit union in 1991. He served two years as president of the Ohio league and received the Volunteer of the Year award in 1985. He was named director emeritus of the league in 2004 and of the credit union in 2003. He is survived by his wife, Shirlee; three daughters, a son, six grandchildren and one sister (The Plain Dealer July 25) …