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CU sets fund for Sikh temple shooting victims families

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WAUKESHA, Wis. (8/8/12)--A West Milwaukee, Wis.-based credit union, has set up a relief fund for victims of Sunday's Oak Creek Sikh temple shootings and their families.

Six worshipers, including the founder of the temple, and the gunman died in the Sunday morning attack, which received national media attention. Three other people, including a police officer, were critically injured (USA Today Aug. 7).  

Local media reported several community nonprofits and individuals are mobilizing efforts to assist the Sihk community in the aftermath.

"This incident has shaken not only the Oak Creek community, but the Milwaukee metro community and the state," Steve Wesson, president/CEO of the $232.2 million asset Guardian CU, told the Waukesha Freeman (Aug. 7).  The credit union has a branch located in Oak Creek, Wis., which is a suburb near of Milwaukee.

"We are part of this community and our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to those affected by this senseless crime," Wesson told the publication.

Community members can stop by Guardian CU's Waukesha branch or any of its other branches in southeastern Wisconsin to donate to the fund. All donations collected by the credit union will go directly to the Sikh temple, Wesson said.

Guardian CU said it will match the first $2,000 raised for the fund.

In the media Arkansas CUs grow

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (8/8/12)--After years of consolidation, the number of credit unions in Arkansas has solidified at 62 during the past year, according to a local publication.

To the best of her knowledge, all those credit unions are doing well, and no mergers are imminent, said Reta Kahley, president of the Arkansas Credit Union League (Arkansas business.com Aug. 6).

Telcoe FCU, Little Rock, the second-biggest credit union in the state, has seen the strongest  growth, adding $25.1 million in assets in 2011, and $13 million in the first six months of  2012. It is the second Arkansas credit union to pass the $300 million-asset plateau, said the publication.

The state's largest credit union--Arkansas FCU of Jacksonville--has $837.7 million in assets at the end of 2011--up $16.5 million, or 2%, from the end of 2010. In the first half of 2012, the credit union has added $30.5 million is assets, it told the publication.

The article also mentioned strong growth at Milway FCU, Texarkana; Arkansas Best FCU, Fort Smith; and Arkansas Superior FCU, Warren.

Entries for Excellence in Lending Awards due Sept. 7

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MADISON, Wis. (8/8/12)--Sept. 7 is the deadline for entries for the 13th annual Excellence in Lending Awards, sponsored annually by CUNA Mutual Group and the CUNA Lending Council.

Established in 2000, the awards recognize outstanding lending results and practices by individual credit unions, and their ability to serve members while sustaining sound financial performance. Credit unions demonstrating an ability to meet their members' needs through innovation are excellent award candidates, said CUNA Mutual and the council.

Six credit unions will be recognized in four lending categories:

  • Consumer lending:  Two awards, one for assets of less than $250 million and the second for assets more than $250 million;
  • Mortgage lending: Two awards, one for assets of less than $250 million and one for assets totaling  more than $250 million;
  • Low/Modest Means lending: Any asset level; and
  • Business lending:  Any asset level.
Awards will be presented at the CUNA Lending Council's Annual Conference Nov. 4-7 at Miami Beach, Fla. The award includes airfare, hotel and conference registration for one representative of each winning credit union.

For more information or application forms, use the resource link.

SCFCU seeks to exclude BTD brand from Vermont ban

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (8/8/12)--South Carolina FCU (SCFCU) in Charleston, S.C., is drafting a letter to the Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation (DFR), seeking to use a phrase the credit union trademarked in November 2011 after Bank Transfer Day (BTD)--"Every day is Bank Transfer Day"--in Vermont.

Vermont DFR had issued a notice of intent to serve a cease-and-desist order to Vermont State Employees CU (VSECU) over the credit union's use of words "banking" and "[to] bank," which the regulator said would confuse consumers, who might not understand they are banking at a credit union rather than a bank (News Now Aug. 7).

SCFCU had the trademarked phrase --"Every day is Bank Transfer Day"--transferred to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), so every credit union nationwide could use it and roll it out as a "rallying cry," Troy Hall, SCFCU chief operations officer told News Now.

When Vermont DFR made its decision on the injunction to ban the words, SCFCU's attorney contacted the DFR to find out what the process is to appeal, and was told to send a letter, Hall said.

"We started rolling it [the phrase] out as a branding tool," Hall explained. "We want to see a national rallying cry because credit unions have been too long without a national presence in that regard. 'Every day is Bank Transfer Day' is that rallying cry that we need. It is not a marketing campaign."

October would be a great month to emphasize that cry because it can grab people's attention nationwide before they become focused on the presidential election in November, Hall said. See the link.

"The [Vermont] cease-and-desist order was made because bankers claim we are using [those words] in a deceptive manner," Hall said. "We want to make sure we can use [the BTD phrase] and make sure the trademark is not diminished. We want to make sure credit union can still use it so it will be a niche in the market place," he told News Now.

Western CUNA Management School graduates 75

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ONTARIO, Calif. (8/8/12)--The 51st Western CUNA Management School (WCMS) graduated 75 students on July 26 at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.

Western CUNA Management School (WCMS) high honors students with faculty members are, from left: WCMS President Jim Likens; David Stacey, America First CU, recipient of the Rick Craig Prize for Excellence in Project II; Josh Kroll, Park Side FCU James Nelson, Jordan FCU; Rachel Pross, Northwest Community CU; Erynne Hallock, Numerica CU; and WCMS Dean Michael Steinberger.
In addition to the 75 members of the graduating third-year Kappa class, 91 second-year Lambda students and 116 first-year Mu students attended the 2012 school session, held July 15-27.

"You attended WCMS during one of the worst recessions in U.S. history," Lee Alderman, class speaker and assistant vice president of training and financial literacy for Redwood CU, Santa Rosa,  Calif., told graduates. "You took every opportunity to encourage each other along the way. You have an over-the-top positive and enthusiastic spirit for everything you do."

Alderman also received the 2012 Charles M. Clark Memorial Award, presented each year to an outstanding member of the graduating class chosen by the class and faculty.

WCMS Dean Michael Steinberger announced academic honors. During a three-year period, students have five opportunities to earn academic honors. Honors and High Honors are awarded to the highest achievers on both the examinations taken at the end of each school year and the analysis of each of their two projects.

This year's Honors students were:

  • Lee Alderman, assistant vice president of training and financial literacy, Redwood CU, Santa Rosa, Calif.;
  • Heather Plaizier, human resources business partner specialist, Mountain America CU, West Jordan, Utah;
  • Lori Hill, compensation and benefits manager, Travis CU, Vacaville, Calif.; and
  • Jeanne Pickens, vice president of marketing, Rogue FCU, Medford, Ore.
High Honors students were:

  • David Stacey, treasurer's office manager for America First CU, Ogden, Utah;
  • Josh Kroll, director of member service for Park Side FCU, Whitefish, Mont.;
  • James Nelson, branch manager for Jordan FCU, Sandy, Utah;
  • Rachel Pross, compliance-risk manager for Northwest Community CU, Springfield, Ore.; and
  • Erynne Hallock, assistant vice president of branch administration and sales for Numerica CU, Spokane Valley, Wash.
Honors students of the Western CUNA Management School pose with faculty members. From left: WCMS President Jim Likens; Lee Alderman, Redwood CU, and recipient of the Charles M. Clark Memorial Award; Heather Plaizier, Mountain America CU; Lori Hill, Travis CU; Jeanne Pickens, Rogue FCU; and WCMS Dean Michael Steinberger. (Photos provided by Western CUNA Management School)
According to its tradition of giving back to WCMS, the graduating class presented a fundraising check totaling more than $72,000 to WCMS President James Likens, plus another check for more than $10,000 from a school auction. Additional funds were donated to the Joseph Melchione Memorial Fund to honor late long-time WCMS faculty member and credit union attorney. This new fund was created by Melchione's partners at Styskal, Wiese & Melchione to provide perpetual WCMS scholarships to the school's program. The 50th graduating Iota Class of 2011 also presented $1,200 its members recently raised for the Melchione Memorial Fund.

This year's James D. Likens Alumni Recognition Award--given to honor WCMS alumni for significant achievements in the credit union field since graduation from the school--went to Annette Zimmerman, president/CEO of PrimeWay FCU, Houston. A new award--the Rick Craig Prize for Excellence in Project II--went to David Stacey of America First CU, Riverdale, Utah.

America First CU President and CEO Rick Craig, who is retiring later this year, also was recognized for his dedication to WCMS as an instructor for 31 years.

Spokane Teachers FCU President/CEO and commencement speaker Tom Johnson offered words of encouragement to the graduating class. He talked about the benefits of attending WCMS, the important relationships formed, and how individuals become "united" from across the country.

Western CUNA Management School is operated with the cooperation and assistance of the credit union leagues and associations serving Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Firm wrote nearly 50 of new CU CDFI grants approved

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WASHINGTON (8/8/12)--CU Strategic Planning, a firm that specializes in credit union grant writing, wrote nearly 50% of the award-winning credit union Community Development Financial Institution applications funded this year by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

The award-winning applications were submitted on behalf of 10 credit unions in eight states, including two receiving Native-designation funding.

The Treasury's CDFI Fund announced Monday that it awarded a total of $186.8 million to 210 organizations serving low-income communities, including credit unions or credit union organizations, as it closed its fiscal year 2012 grants and awards program (News Now Aug. 7).

As recently as 2009, the first year that CU Strategic Planning submitted an application, only two credit unions won the grants. One was submitted by CU Strategic Planning. Today, 22 credit unions were awarded funds today, with 10 award-winning applications written by CU Strategic Planning.

The awards range in size from $99,999 to $1.2 million. Credit unions that received assistance from CU Strategic Planning in the grant writing process include:

  • Bridgeway FCU, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.;
  • Caddo Parish Teacher's FCU, Shreveport, La.;
  • Coshocton (Ohio) FCU;
  • JetStream FCU, Miami Lakes, Fla.;
  • Kingsville (Texas) FCU;        
  • Molokai Community FCI, Kaunakakai, Hawaii;
  • Natco CU, Richmond, Ind.;
  • Prince Kuhio FCU, Honolulu;
  • Shreveport (La.) FCU; and
  • Thurston Union of Low Income People, Olympia, Wash.
The Treasury established the CDFI Fund in 1994 to provide credit, capital and financial services to underserved populations. With the announcements of the latest awards, the CDFI Fund has awarded  $1.7 billion through the CDFI Program.

Mergers in Wisconsin Utah reported

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MADISON, Wis. (8/8/12)--Separate mergers in Wisconsin and the Western U.S. have been reported.

The merger of Truax CU, Madison, Wis., into Heritage CU, also in Madison, Wis., was effective July 31 (The Wisconsin State Journal August 6). The combined credit union has $225 million in assets and 26,500 members with nine branches in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Truax CU, with $5 million assets, was founded in 1956 and had one branch. Heritage CU, was founded in 1934 to serve employees of Oscar Mayer & Co.

In the Western U.S., Pocahy Family CU, Pocatello, Idaho, will merge into $2.9 billion Mountain America CU, West Jordan, Utah (McClatchy-Tribune Regional News August 6).

The merger is expected to take effect April 1, 2013.

Members of $15 million Pocahy Family CU approved the merger.

DVD box sets available for season five of BizKid

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MADISON, Wis. (8/8/12)--Box sets of the latest season of Biz Kid$ are available from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF).

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Biz Kid$ is the Emmy Award-winning and credit union-funded public television series that teaches kids about money management and entrepreneurship.

Earlier this year, NCUF made available the first four seasons of Biz Kid$ as DVD box sets. Each Biz Kid$ box set includes DVDs for each episode and a compact disk containing PDFs of the corresponding curriculum for each episode.  NCUF also released Biz Kid$ starter kits to supporters late last year, which contains core DVDs and materials to teach Biz Kid$. 

Each box set or starter kit is available for a donation of $60 to the NCUF. Credit unions, leagues and foundations can use the box sets or starter kits to teach Biz Kid$ in their communities and to:

  • Donate to teachers/libraries/resource centers in each school of the districts in which they serve;
  • Give to after-school programs, summer camps, Boys & Girls Clubs, children's hospitals, daycare facilities, and similar organizations; and
  • Use to show Biz Kid$ in credit union branch lobbies.
NCUF oversees fundraising, outreach and administrative responsibilities of Biz Kid$.

During the past six years, more than 290 credit unions and affiliated organizations raised roughly $13.2 million to support the show's production, website and curriculum. Every Biz Kid$ episode begins and ends with a narrator reminding viewers that: "Production funding for Biz Kid$ is provided by America's Credit Unions, where people are worth more than money."

ABCUL British CUs now serve one million members

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MANCHESTER, Eng. (8/8/12)--The credit union sector in Great Britain has passed a milestone in membership: it now serves more than one million members and junior savers, said the Association for British Credit Unions Ltd. (ABCUL).

Credit unions serve 887,000 adult members and 121,000 junior savers, according to figures released this week by the Financial Services Authority (ENP Newswire Aug. 6).

Mark Lyonette, ABCUL chief executive, noted that at the turn of the century Britain's credit union served 325,000 adult members. "To almost triple this and reach 887,000 with 121,000 juniors in such a short time is testament to the hard work and dedication of many credit union staff and volunteers who work every day to realize our collective vision for the sector," Lyonette said.

In the past decade membership more than doubled and assets more than tripled in value.  The milestone arrived just after credit unions in January saw long-awaited legislative reforms come into focus that have opened up opportunities for expansion and the Department for Work & Pensions announced an US$59.3 million expansion program for the credit union sector.

Many credit unions plan to use their new powers to serve new groups and offer new products and services, said ABCUL, which also noted that the government is backing the sector to expand and strengthen it further so it can add another million members "in only five to seven years."

CU System briefs (08/07/2012)

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  • BEAVERTON, Ore. (8/8/12)--A pair of college students who joked about robbing banks to pay their bills were sentenced Monday to five years' probation after allegedly holding up two  branches of Beaverton, Ore.-based Rivermark Community CU in 2010.  A U.S. District Court judge also ordered Brittney Anne Sykes Caudle, 24, and Emma Caday Westhusing, 21, to complete 200 hours each of community service and remain in therapy. They also must pay back $2,750 to the credit union (Oregonlive.com Aug. 6).  The unarmed robbery suspects handed notes demanding money to tellers at the credit union's Gresham branch on Oct. 18, 2010, and its  Clackamas branch Dec. 6, 2010.  They were caught when a teller tripped a silent alarm and inserted a tracking device into the loot.  The two women pleaded guilty--Sykes Caudle to one count of bank robbery and Westhusing to two counts of bank robbery.  Judge Garr M. King said the two have taken steps to rehabilitate, have jobs, are enrolled in college classes again, and are receiving help for serious mental and emotional problems from past abusive relationships and that prison would interrupt that rehabilitation …
  • RALEIGH, N.C. (8/8/12)--Members of Raleigh, N.C.-based State Employees' CU (SECU) have donated, through the SECU Foundation, $140,000 for a new 28-foot insulated vehicle to the North Carolina Symphony. The symphony's new travel unit will transport the orchestra's instruments in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment. The symphony performs about 175 concerts a season and travels more than 12,000 miles annually to reach nearly 250,000 state residents. Its musical education program, one of the largest offered by a U.S. orchestra, according to SECU, serves North Carolina's elementary, middle and high school students through full-orchestra education concerns and outreach initiatives . The symphony performs 40 education concerts each year for more than 55,000 elementary school students …
  • ROUND LAKE, Ill. (8/8/12)--
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    Consumer CU (CCU), Waukegan, Ill., recently hosted a delegation from OSCUS CU in Ecuador as part of an international knowledge sharing initiative organized by the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). Sean M. Rathjen, CCU president, led the meeting while WOCCU's Joshua Fetting, international partnerships officer, served as translator.  Topics discussed included information technology, communications, financial analysis and lending. CCU presented details on the tools it uses to process member transactions, the importance of adding new specialized products and services, and how to segment membership to serve members' individual needs. The day-long session also included discussions about branding, Web-based marketing and the impact of social media on the credit union's growth.  Pictured are, from left, front row: Juan Carlos Basantez Gaona,vice president of national business; Santiago Martin Ortiz Nunez, chief financial officer; Rosa Marlene Marino Lescano, branch manager; and Carolos Alonso Santamaria Sanchez, chief technology officer. Back row, from left: CCU employees Larry Paull, director of information systems; Rathjen; John Pawlowski, vice president of finance & investments; and Maria Contreras, corporate development and marketing coordinator; and WOCCU's Fetting.  (Photo provided by Consumer CU) …