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CU System

CUNA Management School Certifies 65 CCUEs

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MADISON, Wis. (8/8/13)--The Credit Union National Association has announced the newest graduating class of CUNA Management School (CMS). This year's 65 graduates were awarded the Certified Credit Union Executive (CCUE) designation, bringing the total CCUEs nationwide to 3,249.
 
CUNA Management School, held in Madison, Wis., fosters leadership skills through a blend of university courses and experiential learning. For two weeks each July, the University of Wisconsin becomes home to credit union professionals committed to their careers, their credit unions and their members.
 
CCUE, instituted in 1975, is the hallmark of professional credit union achievement. Designed for those aspiring to credit union leadership, it is awarded to individuals who take it upon themselves to improve their professional expertise, seek out best practices and propel their credit union to a stronger future.
 
This year's recipients successfully completed the three-year CUNA Management School curriculum. Of this year's 65 graduates, 28 graduated with honors and two graduated with high honors.

During the graduation ceremony, the third-year graduating class presented $23,355 to the CMS Scholarship Fund. The money was raised during the three-year professional development program and is earmarked to help smaller credit unions and individuals without available financial resources become future CUNA Management School graduates.

For more information on CUNA Management School and the CCUE designation, use the link.

CU System Briefs (08/08/2013)

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  • TOLEDO, Ohio (8/8/13)--Toledo-based Directions CU announced the winners of its 2013 MyLife@DCU Don't Text and Drive Video Contest. MyLife@DCU is a financial option for members under age 24 that helps them master good financial habits and achieve financial independence. The contest was on the MyLife@DCU Facebook page and open to members and non-members under 24. Participants submitted a video explaining why they choose not to text and drive. Viewers voted on the submissions for two weeks. Those who got the most votes won prizes. First place/grand prize winner of $1,000 was Matthew Corbrett of Perrysburg; second place $500 went to Shelby Schaffer of Willard; and third place $250 went to Matthew Kubiak of Toledo.  Corbrett said of the Don't Text and Drive message:  "It's very significant. I wish it was something I would see more."  He plans to save most of his winnings ...
  • BERKELEY, Calif. (8/8/13)--Gary Bell, president of Cooperative Center FCU in Berkeley, Calif., and a longtime local leader who was elected to the Richmond Calif. City Council in November, died Aug. 1. He was 54. He was hospitalized days before his election for a severe bacterial sinus infection and slipped into a coma after two neurosurgeries in November (Contra Costa Times Aug. 1 and 2). He served as CEO of CCFCU from 2000 to 2002. In 2008, he returned and served as CEO/president until he fell ill. Bell also served on the Credit Union Advisory Council to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Bell served on the Richmond City Council from 2001 to 2004. He also served on the Wichita, Kan., City Council for two years. He was the second African-American in the history of Wichita--and the youngest member--to serve on that council, said the Wichita Eagle (Aug. 7). He is survived by his wife Shelley Ross-Bell and two sons, Gary Jr. and Germaine. Funeral services were Wednesday ...

Old Hickory CU Defends Tax Status On WKRN TV

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (8/8/13)--Old Hickory CU and Tennessee credit unions are sending a strong message to Congress to keep their tax-exempt status, according to Nashville TV station WKRN during an interview.

Bonnette Dawson, president/CEO of the $205 million asset credit union located in Old Hickory, Tenn., delivered the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" message in an interview with WKRN.

"If we had to pay taxes that would change the way we do business, and it would also do away with the choice people have in financial institutions," she told Nashville's News 2.

Credit union should not be taxed because they serve different clientele than banks, she said, adding, "We offer similar services, but we are more responsive to low income and underserved communities. We volunteer a lot in the communities we serve."

The reporter noted that unlike banks, credit unions cannot raise capital through public stock but they give better service.  Camera footage taken at the credit union featured staff wearing a Don't Tax My Credit Union t-shirt.  Member Alice Breuer also was interviewed. "When I think of a credit union, I think of community because when you come in, they know who you are. You are not just a number," she said.

Losing the tax-exempt status would dramatically change her credit union's cost and quality of service.

"I don't think they are aware, and that's what we are trying to do is get every avenue we can to raise awareness."  The station said Dawson has met with two Tennessee representatives in Congress and will meet with U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn this week.

Raising awareness is one of the three prongs of  Unite for Good, the Credit Union National Association's and state leagues' campaign working toward a vision in which "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."

ADA Lawsuits Filed Vs. FIs In Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (8/8/13)--Seven more lawsuits alleging that inaccessible ATMs violated the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) have been filed against financial institutions, including a credit union, this time in Tennessee.
 
Susan Welchly of Tennessee and Ashley Summers of Alabama, who are both legally blind, filed the suits simultaneously in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, in Nashville. They are represented by Gilbert Russell McWherter PLC, a law firm in Jackson, Tenn., with offices in Nashville.
 
The suits alleged that the ATMs do not have features mandated by the ADA for visually impaired individuals, and that the machines lacked braille keyboards or voice guidance. They asked the court to force the institutions to comply and to pay for court costs.
 
The suits are against five banks and a credit union (TheCityPaper.com Aug. 6).
 
Similar suits were filed Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia within the past 15 months. One man in Philadelphia filed suit against seven financial institutions, citing ADA violations (News Now June 20, 2012). 
 
Mondaq Business Briefing (Aug. 7) estimated that there are at least 100 similar pending class actions across the country.
 
Earlier this year the Credit Union National Association warned credit unions that an ATM accessibility lawsuit filed in Atlanta by a blind woman who alleged lack of access to the machine under the ADA could be the beginning of  a trend of plaintiffs' lawyers seeking out ADA violators.
 
CUNA noted that like the numerous nuisance lawsuits filed against financial institutions claiming that missing ATM fee notices violated the Electronic Funds Transfer Act,  the next trend could be ADA class action lawsuits (News Now March 14).  CUNA recommended that credit unions check their compliance with ADA regulations concerning ATMs.
 
The Wall Street Journal  estimated last year that at least half of the nation's ATMs remain inaccessible to the visually handicapped (March 7, 2012).

FHFA, Freddie Considering Legal Action On Eminent Domain Seizures

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WASHINGTON (8/8/13)--The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and government-owned mortgage financer Freddie Mac are considering legal action against a city in California that is threatening to use eminent domain to seize underwater mortgages from private trusts.
 
Richmond, Calif., recently sent notice to holders of more than 620 mortgages, asking them to sell their loans to the city for 80% of the homes' fair value. The city then would write them down, and help the homeowners refinance their loans, according to Reuters and Politco (Aug. 7). If the offers aren't accepted, the city said it would use eminent domain to seize the loans at a value determined by a court.
 
Freddie Mac General Counsel William McDavid told reporters in a conference call that the seizures would amount to loan sales under pressure. "We would consider taking legal action," he was reported as saying.
 
The Credit Union National Association, in a joint letter July 31 with other associations and organizations, urged Congress to support an amendment that would take steps to prohibit the Federal Housing Administration  (FHA) from insuring residential mortgages that have been seized through eminent domain (News Now Aug. 1).  The amendment would be a provision of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (H.R. 2610).
 
The city's plan and other developments would threaten to freeze the return of private capital to housing markets, the letter. It noted a plan developed by a vulture fund--a private equity or hedge fund that invests in weak debt--would use a city's eminent domain power to acquire performing-but-underwater mortgages held in private label, mortgage-backed securities and then insure the new loans through FHA.  Richmond was specifically mentioned in the letter as being prepared to become the first city in the U.S. to seize loans in this unprecedented manner.
 
CUNA supports a broad range of programs to assist struggling homeowners and their communities, but believes that "using the power of eminent domain in this manner would harm our nation's housing markets and the very communities it is intended to help," the letter said.
 
The letter was also signed by 14 other trade groups.

HR 1151 Marks 15 Years

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WASHINGTON (8/8/13)--
Click to view larger image Thousands of credit union supporters descended upon the Capitol in Washington, D.C., in 1998 to urge Congress to pass HR 1151--the Credit Union Membership Access Act--in what is considered a textbook case of  grassroots political action. (Photo provided by CUNA)
The Credit Union Membership Access Act of 1998--known as HR 1151--marked its 15th year milestone yesterday, a testament to the grassroots advocacy power of credit union people throughout the U.S.
 
Fifteen years after its passage, credit unions are again applying lessons they learned about grassroots operations then to another battle--to preserve credit unions' tax-exempt status. Many of the advocacy lessons being used today were learned in the 1998 battle, which was considered a "textbook case" of political action.
 
HR 1151, which was co-sponsored by former U.S. Reps.  Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) and Paul Kanjorski (D-Pa.), authorized multiple-group chartering for federal credit unions and gave 63 million working Americans--many of them working for small businesses--the ability to save and borrow at a credit union. It was signed by President Bill Clinton on Aug. 7, 1998.
 
The law was the culmination of a grassroots response to a five to four decision on Feb. 25, 1998, by the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld an appeals court decision to prohibit federal credit unions from taking in members unrelated to their "core" membership group and common bond. By enacting HR 1151, Congress overturned the Supreme Court decision.

Special Report: Natco Empowerment Center Helps Low-Income Members

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RICHMOND, Ind. (8/8/13)--Natco CU in Richmond, Ind., will be opening the Natco Community Empowerment Center tomorrow to help low-income people achieve a self-sustaining lifestyle.
 
A grant through the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund sparked the idea for the credit union's new center, Karen Houser, Natco marketing director, told News Now.
 
"We are an industrial-based credit union, and over the years many factories [in the area] were closing or reducing their hours,' Houser explained. "We have many low-income members at the poverty level or below. So the Empowerment Center is being developed because of the special needs of low-income people."
 
A three-year grant for $313,606 from the CDFI Fund finances the main track of the center--which the $63.4 million asset credit unit purchased--with Natco funding the rest of its operations, Houser said.
 
The credit union will provide computers with Internet access and a fax machine to the community for free. Services the center provides include creating resumes, establishing a training process to help participants with mock interviews, dressing professionally for job interviews, and making participants aware of the process of obtaining a decent job, Houser said.
 
"We are the managing partner for the Circle Program through the United Way, which takes individuals and families into an educational setting with our staff members for a 17-week period," Houser explained. "This helps take the participants out of poverty and into the next step.
 
"The credit union partners these people with others in the community," she added. "The program provides allies for participants with more-established people in the community." For example, if a participant's car breaks down, the ally can refer the person to others to help finance the repairs, Houser said.     
 
The Empowerment Center will help a least two sets of family groups each year through the 17-week course. There is an 18-month commitment required of families who take part in the program, Houser said. Two Natco staff members will work as full-time employees at the center. 
 
In June, Natco held an event to help determine barriers that prevent people from adequately managing their finances. "A lot of the challenges involve finding an organization's resources that people can turn to for funds," Houser said.
 
Other challenges include finding employment that would maintain an adequate lifestyle, obtaining affordable housing, and procuring transportation--which is a challenge for many people in the community, Houser said
 
Future programs  at the center will be based on what Natco learns about the needs of the community, said Houser, adding that the center is looking to be a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) organization to help participants prepare their income-tax returns.
 
"It has long been the philosophy of the credit union to help individuals help themselves financially. By getting beyond barriers, we can set them on a positive path for themselves," Houser concluded.
 
This article is part of a News Now series of exclusive, special reports on credit unions' outreach efforts and innovative ideas. Fostering service excellence, removing barriers and raising awareness about the value credit unions provide their members and communities are the foundation for the Credit Union National Association's, state credit union leagues' and credit unions' Unite For Good campaign toward a vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial provider.

NYIB Network Honors Outstanding Contributors

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SAN DIEGO (8/8/13)--The National Youth Involvement Board honored two credit union professionals and awarded three scholarships at its 2013 Annual Conference in San Diego last week.
 
NYIB named Teresa Shively, education specialist at Gesa CU, Richland, Wash., as the 2013 Delegate of the Year. Shively coordinates and serves as community liaison for Gesa's high school and community outreach programs. The programs encompass seven student-operated high school branches, financial education workshops in local high schools and colleges, and seminars for both teens and adults.
 
Shively also serves on three school district Career and Technical Education Advisory Committees, is a member of the Northwest Credit Union Association Education Committee and is Gesa's Junior Achievement executive ambassador. 
 
NYIB's Outstanding Volunteer of the Year is Nate Gillen, director of education at Weokie CU, Oklahoma City, Okla. Gillen has overseen 810 classroom presentations and taught 721 presentations personally. Together his team reached 3,539 students during the 2012-2013 school year. He also is actively involved in other community groups, including the Weokie Foundation. 
 
The three scholarships awarded at the conference support the volunteer network's objective of promoting leadership development related to youth advocacy and financial education. 
 
The North and South Regional scholarships were awarded to Natalie McLaughlin from Community Financial CU, Plymouth, Mich., and Caroline Barragan from Pima FCU, Tucson, Ariz., respectively.
 
The third scholarship, for serving the underserved, was awarded to Kim Beaulieu from Jeanne D'Arc CU in Boston.

Online Poll: 18% Of Consumers OK With Revolving Debt

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WASHINGTON (8/8/13)--About one in five consumers--18%--believe that carrying credit card debt over from month-to-month is a responsible way to manage finances, according to a recent National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) online poll.
 
"The data suggest that not only are many Americans are using credit cards to fund a lifestyle their income can't support, but they are comfortable doing so," said Gail Cunningham, NFCC spokesperson. 
 
Credit unions can advise their members of these consequences of carrying credit card debt from month to month:
  • Credit unions can advise their members of the consequences of carrying debt from month to month:
  • Interest on a credit card is typically calculated on an average daily balance.  For those who carry a balance over from the previous cycle, interest is not only charged on the unpaid balance, but on any new purchases added to the balance, said NFCC.
  • With interested added onto the balance month after month, consumers end up paying interest on the interest.
  • Carrying a balance has the potential to negatively impact a person's debt-to-credit ratio, one of the main components of credit scores, said NFCC.
  • A higher balance decreases the amount of credit available for future purchases.
Most (61%) said they believe paying credit card debt in full each month is the only responsible way to manage personal finances.

NCUF Approves 16 Biz Kid$ Education Grants For 2013

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MADISON, Wis. (8/8/13)--The National Credit Union Foundation's board of directors has approved 16 new Biz Kid$ grants, totaling $124,961 for 2013. The new grants engage the credit union movement in using Biz Kid$ and its curriculum to build students' financial literacy and economic education skills.
 
"There is a need to improve the financial literacy skills of the youth in America and Biz Kid$ is the perfect vehicle to address that need," said Danielle Brown, Biz Kid$ program coordinator for NCUF. The innovative programs "will improve the financial education of youth through the use of the Biz Kid$ program."
 
Biz Kid$ is the credit union-funded public television series that teaches kids about money management and entrepreneurship.
 
Seventy-six percent of teens report the best time to learn about money management is in kindergarten through high school, but only 29% reported having programs in place, according to the 2013 Junior Achievement/Allstate Foundation Teens and Personal Finance Survey.
 
Some highlights of the grant projects:
  • Maps CU, Salem, Ore., will work with Western Oregon University's College of Education to incorporate Biz Kid$ into the curriculum of Elementary Social Studies Methods, a course required of all university students in the Elementary Education program. The integration of Biz Kid$ into their coursework will lead to the use of Biz Kid$ in future classrooms.
  • STAR CU, Madison, Wis., will create an Entrepreneurship Club to teach teens at the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County about entrepreneurship through hands-on experience and provide the opportunity to launch a business of their own. Biz Kid$ lessons and videos will be used to teach the club members how to write a business plan, create a budget and write a business proposal.
  • Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation, Farmers Branch, Texas, will create a Biz Kid$ Teacher Training and Entrepreneur Contest pilot program to show educators how to teach the Biz Kid$ program. Participating teachers will implement the curriculum in their classrooms and students will collaboratively create a business plan for a needed organization in their community, thus incorporating the entrepreneurship skills learned through Biz Kid$.
  • Travis CU, Vacaville, Calif., will use Biz Kid$ to provide the financial literacy curriculum needed for students participating in a Work Ready Certification Program. The program is designed to verify that students have the entry-level skills needed to succeed in the workplace and contribute as citizens, and help them understand the link between their educational/career goals and financial planning.
NCUF oversees fundraising and outreach responsibilities of Biz Kid$. During the past six years, more than 300 credit unions and affiliated organizations have raised more than $13.8 million to support the show's production, website and curriculum. Every Biz Kid$ 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."
 
For a full list of NCUF grants, use the link.