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CDFI Fund awardees highlight what CUs do

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WASHINGTON (8/10/12)--Credit unions among the grantees of the latest round of the U.S. Treasury Department's Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund will get a chance to show what credit unions can do for their communities.

The Treasury announced Monday it awarded more than $186.8 million to 210 organizations serving low-income communities, including credit unions or credit union organizations, to close its fiscal year 2012 grants and awards program. The awards included 25 awards to community development credit unions (CDCUs) and credit union organizations totaling more than $19.9 million.

Credit union awards represented 12% of the total CDFI Fund grants under this round, and 83% of the credit unions receiving awards are members of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. The federation also was among grant recipients, receiving more than $1.4 million.

Sandra Lumbley, CEO of Kerr County FCU, Kerrville, Texas, which received nearly $1.1 million, said, "Our credit union is dedicated to serving the underserved, and this grant will be put to great use in our community." It will use the grant to increase specialized lending that helps low-income borrowers break free from predatory lenders.

"We serve many members that traditional financial institutions can't or won't," Lumbley added.  "Our loans help people who believe that high interest payday and title loans are their only option."

Federation Interim President/CEO Pamela Owens said the CDFI Fund grant is just part of the story.  "A recent study released by the CDFI Fund shows that CDCUs mobilize $10 in community assets for every dollar of capital, which is more than any other type of CDFI," Owens said.  "We've known this for a long time, but were pleased to see the power of cooperative finance recognized by the CDFI study."

Communicating Arts CU in Detroit, Mich., received a $953,806 grant. CEO Hank Hubbard noted that the Detroit community has benefitted from the CDFI Fund in the past. "These grants allow us to reach out further into the impoverished areas of Detroit that other legitimate lenders cannot or will not go," Hubbard said. 

The credit union also received a CDFI grant in 2011. "The 2011 funds allowed us to refinance predatory car loans for approximately 100 people, saving them an average of $80 per month," Hubbard said. "That's a total savings for the group of over $400,000 through the life of the loans." He noted that as members pay the loans back, the credit union can lend the money out again.

"The Federation has fought long and hard to ensure that CDCUs continue to receive their fair share of CDFI awards," explained Owens. "Today we've seen a more equitable distribution with some of the awards going to credit unions that are new to the fund," she said.

Award winners were:

  • Bethex FCU, Bronx, N.Y., $95,500;
  • Bridgeway CU, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., $99,999;
  • Brooklyn (N.Y.) Cooperative FCU, $964,806;
  • Caddo Parish Teachers FCU, Shreveport, La., $100,000;
  • Citizens Community CU, Devils Lake, N.D., $1,453,806;
  • Communicating Arts CU, Detroit, Mich., $953,806;
  • Coshocton (Ohio) FCU,  $151,000;
  • Guadalupe CU, Santa Fe, N.M., $253,806;
  • JetStream FCU, Miami Lakes, Fla., $92,500;
  • Kerr County FCU, Kerrville, Texas, $1,084,187;
  • Kingsville (Texas) Community FCU, $483,806;
  • Latino Community CU, Durham, N.C., $1,453,806;
  • Lower East Side People's FCU, New York, N.Y., $494,806;
  • Molokai Community FCU, Kaunakakai, Hawaii, $375,900;
  • NATCO CU, Richmond, Ind., $313,606;
  • Neighborhood Trust FCU, New York, N.Y., $550,000;
  • Opportunities CU, Winooski, Vt., $1,453,806;
  • Pacoima (Calif.) Development FCU, $91,000;
  • Prince Kuhio FCU, Honolulu, $363,800;
  • Self-Help FCU, Durham, N.C., $1,453,806;
  • Shreveport (La.) FCU, $1,253,806;
  • Syracuse (N.Y.) Cooperative FCU, $100,000;
  • TULIP CU, Olympia, Wash., $100,000.
In addition to the federation, awards to credit union organizations included The Support Center; the Bois ForteBand of Minnesota Chippewa; and the Lakota FCU Steering Committee.

The federation was instrumental in the campaign that established the CDFI Fund, and credit unions have received more than $135 million in awards since its inception. "These awards have had a strong, positive impact on the credit unions and the communities they serve," Owens said, "because CDCUs have used this capital to mobilize more than $1 billion in impact."

Applying for CDFI Financial or Technical Assistance is a highly competitive process, but the benefits are worth the effort, said Pablo DeFilippi, federation director of membership. "The CDFI Fund still represents the largest source of external capital available for community development financing," he said.

In a related development, U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) Wednesday that announced that El Paso CU Affordable Housing LLC also received a grant in the CDFI program. The $98,400 federal grant will assist the city's affordable housing markets. "This grant comes at a crucial time for El Paso, and will help improve the lives of many, especially our underserved communities coping with the slow economic recovery," said Reyes.

The CDFI was established in 2001, serves low-income residents of El Paso County and is operated by local credit unions that organized their resources together to provide community programs to enhance services of credit unions. It provides first mortgage loans and development services to its underserved community and will use its FY 2012 Technical Assistance award to increase its capacity to serve that market.

"There is certainly more that needs to be done in terms of affordable housing issues, but this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction," he said.

Calif.Nev. Leagues consolidate communications

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ONTARIO, Calif. (8/10/12)--Beginning this summer, member credit unions of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues will receive a single communications piece that captures everything the credit unions use from the trade association.

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The leagues eliminated or consolidated several communications pieces into one all-inclusive, easy-to-navigate format. CU Weekly, The latest news and information from the Leagues will be e-mailed to all members on Tuesday mornings. On Thursdays, a second consolidated piece will be sent from the leagues' Education and Training Department.  Communications of a more immediate nature will still be sent as needed.

Also, all the leagues' communication vehicles will sport a unified brand of blue, white and gold, making official communications easier to identify.

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"This new direction in communications is designed to put members first," said Carol Payne, league vice president of communications and marketing. "Our goal is to remedy the number of e-mails sent to member credit union CEOs, board members, executives and other professionals who rely on the leagues for useful and relevant information."

The changes were made after member credit unions first requested a new communications piece during a 2011 member feedback survey. That was followed by a five-phase audit, in-depth surveys, interviews and focus group discussion conducted from January to May with the help of consulting firm Goldman Consulting & Strategy. The goal was to review and address the frequency, distribution and content of communications, said the leagues.

Plans underway for new CU serving nonprofits

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SAN FRANCISCO (8/10/12)--A new credit union that would serve nonprofit organizations nationwide has cleared its first hurdle with regulators, according to American Nonprofits, a newly formed group that hopes to establish the credit union.

If approved, the proposed credit union, called American Nonprofit FCU, would serve nonprofit employees and their families across the nation. It could start operations as early as the end of 2013, Pamela Davis, the organization's founder and board president, told The Chronicle of Philanthropy (philanthropy.com Aug. 8).

While several professional associations serve nonprofits with specialties such as fundraising, people working for nonprofits have no place to get together to talk about finance and strategy, Jan Masaoka, head of the California Association of Nonprofits, told the Chronicle.

Many nonprofits need greater access to financial services; they are "redlined out of credit" because banks don't understand the nonprofit business model, Masaoka said. The proposed credit union would provide nonprofits and their workers an additional federally insured option for lines of credit, credit cards and working capital, she said.

Davis said that the group received preliminary approval from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to allow organizations and individuals joining American Nonprofits to be eligible to join the credit union. 

The group received a $100,000 grant from Nonprofits Insurance Alliance Group in March to hire a staffer to steer the project, and the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation contributed a $25,000 planning grant, said the article.

American Nonprofits plans to survey subscribers of  Blue Avocado, an online magazine that Masaoka edits, and more than 11,000 organizations served by Nonprofits' Insurance Alliance of California and the Alliance of Nonprofits for Insurance, which are members of the group forming the credit union.  The survey and guidance from NCUA will determine which cities the proposed credit union will focus on first.

Meanwhile, American Nonprofits is raising more funds to start up the credit union. Its goal is $10.5 million in commitments, with at least $500,000 earmarked for the initial operating capital, said the article.

NCBA Co-op Trust create Crash NCBA scholarship

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WASHINGTON (8/10/12)--The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) has partnered with The Cooperative Trust to create a "Crash NCBA" scholarship event, aimed at drawing young cooperative employees to the NCBA's annual meeting in Seattle, Oct. 2-5.

The Cooperative Trust was formed to give young credit union employees the chance to attend meetings such as the Credit Union National Association's Government Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C., and the World Council of Credit Unions' conference.

With the addition of "Crash NCBA," the Cooperative Trust focuses on all cooperative businesses and organizations, not just credit unions, for the first time.

The "Crash NCBA" event will coincide with the 2012 International Year of the Cooperative, a year-long event to highlight the work and strides of cooperative businesses worldwide.

"This is a very special event for us," Brent Dixon, founder of The Cooperative Trust, said of the wider-reaching scholarship event. "We're reaching out to include more co-ops and, hopefully, encourage more young people to get involved and learn from one another. And, as always, we're hoping to have a lot of fun with our 'Crashers.'"

Scholarships are based on merit and will be awarded to 15 participants based on the strength of their entry forms and essays. Interested candidates under the age of 30 can visit the NCBA website to apply for a scholarship slot before Aug. 23. Use the link.

Candidates accepted into the program will be given access to the entire conference, and separate breakout sessions with thought-leaders in the cooperative business space. The NCBA is sponsoring all 15 slots.

The "Crash NCBA" event will coincide with the 2012 International Year of the Cooperative, a year-long event to highlight the work and strides of cooperative businesses worldwide.

MBL cap forces down CU small-biz lending Biz2Credit

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NEW YORK (8/10/12)--Small-business lending approvals in July by credit unions nationwide stood at 54.6%, revealed the Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index, a monthly analysis of 1,000 loan applications on Biz2credit.com.  

The July loan approval rate of credit unions dipped from 55.8% in June. The figure represents the lowest approval rate for credit unions since August 2011, when the figure stood at 54.2%. Some credit unions have reported that they had reached their lending limit, which currently is 12.25% of total assets, said Biz2Credit (PRWeb Aug. 9).

The slowdown is due, in part, because some credit unions reportedly "capped out" on the member business lending (MBL) limit, while others are being more cautious in their lending because of Small Business Administration rules, the analysis says. The Credit Union Small Business Jobs Bill proposed by U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) seeks to raise the credit union MBL cap to 27.5% of total assets from the current figure of 12.25%, the study said.

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and credit unions say that increasing credit unions' MBL cap would open up more opportunity to offer MBLs, inject $13 billion in business loans into the economy and create as many as 140,000 new jobs, with no cost to taxpayers.

Approvals in July by big banks ($10 billion-plus in assets) improved for the second consecutive month to 11.3% from 11.1% in June, an indication that demand for business lending is continuing.

Conversely, small-bank lending dropped slightly to 47.4% in July from 47.5% in June. This figure however is still up two and a half percentage points from 44.9% in July 2011.

Alternative lenders--accounts receivable financers, merchant cash advance lenders, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), micro lenders, and others--are increasing their lending. In July, alternative lenders approved 64.1% of loan requests, up from 62.9% in June and nearly 12 percentage points higher than a year ago. The 64.1% approval rate was the highest figure since the Biz2Credit Small Business Lending Index began in 2011.

To compile the monthly index, Biz2Credit analyzed loan requests ranging from $25,000 to $3 million from companies in business more than two years with an average credit score above 680. The data are from more than 1,000 small business owners who applied for funding on Biz2Credit's online lending platform.

CUs reached 413106 students in school year

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MADISON, Wis. (8/10/12)--Credit unions reached 413,106 students in 13,008 classrooms presentations during the 2011-2012 school year, according to the National Youth Involvement Board (NYIB).

"Credit unions have responded to young people seeking guidance and fundamental financial knowledge, and not a moment too soon," outgoing NYIB Chairman Rebecca Isaacs shared. "The magic lies in cooperation. Never have I seen an organization with so many willing to share their stories, their successes, their failures, their triumphs and their heroes."

Anissa Arthenayake of OSU FCU, Corvallis, Ore., conducted the most classroom presentations (730). Marsha Lunden of Desert Schools CU, Phoenix, reached the most students (17,048) in the 2011-2012 reporting year. Arthenayake and Lunden increased their totals from the previous year.

The NYIB "Top Classroom Presenter"--the person with the greatest percentage increase in classroom presentations over the previous year--was Michael Lee of The Golden 1 CU, Sacramento, Calif. Lee made 174 presentations in 2011-2012, increasing his total 128.95% from 2010-11.

Julie Blaylock of Community Financial CU, Plymouth, Mich., was recognized for "Most Students Reached." Blaylock educated 3,297 students in 2011-2012, a 411.96% increase over the number of students she reached in 2010-2012. 

The NYIB also recognized the region edcuating the most students. The Southeast Region reached 129,144 students.

NYIB, celebrating its 40th year and the recipient of the 2011 Herb Wegner award for outstanding organization, is composed of volunteer credit union professionals devoted to financial education and youth-oriented services. Among NYIB's annual objectives are building and refining the data, helping credit unions quantify their work and providing regulators, legislators and others an example of credit unions' philosophy at work.

NYIB elects 2012-13 leaders honors two

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NEW ORLEANS (8/10/12)--The National Youth Involvement Board (NYIB) announced the election of several leaders and presented two awards at its annual meeting in New Orleans last week.

Rebecca Isaacs, business development director of the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, resigned her position of chairman after two years of service. Isaacs will remain on the board as chairman emeritus for one year.  Julie McLean, director of financial education for Arapahoe CU,  Centennial, Colo., will be chairman for 2012-2013.

NYIB regional coordinators elected to two-year terms include:

  • Teresa Shively, education specialist, Gesa CU, Richland, Wash., Northwest region;
  • Angela Halsey, director of marketing and business development, NuVista FCU, Montrose, Colo., Southwest region;
  • J.R., Webster, financial educator, Tinker FCU, Oklahoma City, Okla., South Central region; and
  • Incumbent Juli Lewis, youth marketing manager, Suncoast Schools FCU, Tampa, Fla., Southeast region.
Continuing their second year terms are:

  • Anne-Marie Bisson, assistant vice president of financial education, Jeanne D'Arc CU, Lowell, Mass., Northeast regional coordinator; and
  • Janice Quigg, marketing and community development specialist, OUR CU, Royal Oak, Mich., North Central regional coordinator.
In addition to McLean, board officers include:

  • Vice Chairman--Lewis;
  • Secretary--Shively;
  • Treasurer--Bisson;
  • Media Manager--Quigg;
  • Vendor Relations Specialist--Webster; and
  • Scholarship Specialist--Halsey.
McLean also was recognized as the 2012 Delegate of the Year.  She works directly with public schools in Arapahoe County, providing financial presentations and workshops.

Webster was recognized as NYIB's Outstanding Volunteer of the Year. His primary focus at Tinker FCU is to deliver financial education to schools, businesses, and community organizations.

La. league honors 12 Hall of Famers more

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HARAHAN, La. (8/10/12)--The Louisiana Credit Union League inducted 12 individuals into its Hall of Fame during the organization's 78th annual meeting and convention last week.

The league also presented its Credit Union National Association (CUNA) recognition awards at the convention, which was attended by more than 400 credit union representatives.

Hall of Fame honorees included:

  • Tina Atkins, Kraftman FCU, Bastrop;
  • Allen A. Dugas, Lafayette  (La.) Schools' FCU;
  • Maureen Genovese, Shell New Orleans (La.) FCU;
  • Nat Gisclaire, Lafayette Schools' FCU;
  • B. Fay Jackson, Centric FCU, West Monroe;
  • Marguerite Jones, Iberville FCU, Plaquemine;
  • Vicki O'Brien, Jefferson Parish Employees FCU, Harahan;
  • Dawn L. Ruggles, VAC FCU, Shreveport;
  • Edward B. Shaver, Centric FCU; and
  • Emily Stewart, Iberville FCU.
LCUL awarded three Louisiana credit unions with the CUNA Recognition Awards. The winners will advance to CUNA's national competition.

Awards and credit unions recognized include:

  • Desjardin Youth Financial Literacy Award--New Orleans Firemen's FCU, Metairie;
  • Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action--Pelican State CU, Baton Rouge; and
  • Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award--Shell New Orleans FCU.

League kicks off young professionals group with cruise

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MERIDEN, Conn. (8/10/11)--The Sea Mist, a cruise boat, was filled with young (under 40) credit union professionals representing Connecticut's credit unions at their kick-off meet and greet to exchange possible ideas for the future of the state's credit union movement.

Click to view larger image Young professionals from Connecticut credit unions enjoy fresh air and a breeze aboard the Sea Mist at the first gathering of the new Young Professionals Program of the Credit Union League of Connecticut. (Photo provided by the Credit Union League of Connecticut)
The newly formed Young Professionals Program of the Credit Union League of Connecticut cruised among Thimble Islands off the coast of Stony Creek, Conn.

At the event, league President/CEO Tony Emerson discussed the overall function of the program, and  Kelly Fuhlbrigge, league vice president, government relations, discussed the importance of getting involved in grassroots efforts, political fundraising and the government relations role of the league.

Many attendees "had no idea that we did so much on both the state and federal level and they could play an important role in shaping the future of the credit union movement," Fuhlbrigge said.

The group agreed to form a committee to discuss future events and work to enhance growth and participation.