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Fund competition stiff CU share still low says group

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NEW YORK (9/2/08)--Credit unions received 15% of the 89 awards announced Thursday by the U.S. Treasury Department's Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund. But they accounted for only 10.2% of the dollar amount, says the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (NFCDCU). While the fund has a large appropriation this year, competition was stiff, and credit union share of fund awards was still low, said the federation, with 225 organizations applying with more than $205 million in requests. The greatest number of requests and largest dollar amounts went to community development loan funds. Eight of the 26 credit union requests for Core and SECA grants, and five of 10 for technical assistance grants were funded. Nearly 90% of the credit union funding went to federation member CDCUs, said the federation. "We're delighted a significant number of credit unions received funding," said federation CEO Cliff Rosenthal. "Assistance from the CDFI Fund has helped to drive much of the innovation and expansion in the CDCU movement." He noted the funding for the coming year may be "the largest we've seen in quite a while. So we encourage CDCUs to get certified and apply in advance of the October deadlines." The federation believes "there is a lot of room for growth in credit union participation. For growth-oriented credit unions, there really is no resource comparable to the CDFI Fund," Rosenthal said. Certification applications for the next CDFI Fund funding round are due Oct. 1, and applications for funding are due Oct. 29, said the federation. The federation will conduct webinars on CDFI certification and application for credit unions, with the first, "Everything You Need to Know About Applying for Certification," scheduled for Sept. 9 at 3 p.m. For more information, contact Dan Apfel at 212-809-1850, ext. 220 or at dapfel@cdcu.coop.

CUs nonprofits are allies in serving underserved

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CHICAGO (9/2/08)--Nonbanks are discovering--like credit unions and banks--that community-based nonprofit organizations can be strong partners for financial providers wanting to serve the unbanked. According to the Center for Financial Services Innovation, the landscape is changing for financial providers with retailers and technology firms eager to grab a share of the underserved market (American Banker Aug. 29). The center, an affiliate of ShoreBank in Chicago, has for the past four years funded efforts by nonprofits to develop and test financial products, services and strategies for serving the underserved. Its most recent round of funding attracted 133 proposals worth $30 million from nonprofits in 35 states, said the center. One credit union that knows the value of working with nonprofit agencies is Truliant FCU, a $1.208 billion credit union in Winston-Salem, N.C., according to the North Carolina Credit Union League (Weekly Update Aug. 29). Truliant offers a Truliant Community Mini-Grant Program to assist nonprofit agencies with operational costs. The program was designed by Marjorie Rorie, director of community services for Truliant and a former grant-writer. She has conducted 13 grant workshops to prepare nonprofit agencies with grant applications. "I wanted to find a way for Truliant to connect with what we feel is the 'heart' of every community--nonprofit organizations," said Rorie. "Truliant is committed to meeting the community's needs and has strengthened this connection by developing new guidelines for organizations with a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit status to open accounts with Truliant." To qualify for a grant, the agencies must impact one or more of these areas: health or human services, youth, affordable housing, financial literacy or economic development, said the credit union. More than 110 applicants submitted proposals, and 31 agencies received grants. The Center for Financial Services Innovation says that more than 80% of proposals it received in its latest funding round involved partnerships. Of those, two-fifths were collaborations with credit unions and banks. Six Michigan credit unions, for example, are testing a new product to reward savings with a combination of interest and cash prizes in a project with Doorways to Dreams Fund of Boston, said the center. Another such collaboration involves U.S. FCU, a $780 million asset credit union based in Burnsville, Minn., aiming to reach underserved people in a low-income neighborhood. Its collaboration with Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota has created the Eastside Financial Center in St. Paul, which provides basic financial services and other social services such as job training, said the innovation center.

Georgia CUs raise 62000 for CMN

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DULUTH, Ga. (9/2/08)--More than 200 people representing 13 credit unions raised $62,000 for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) at the Greater Atlanta CU Chapter’s six-annual Bowl-a-Thon.
Click to view larger image Representatives from credit unions in Greater Atlanta raised more than $62,000 for Children’s Hospitals through Credit Unions for Kids program. From left are: Kristi Arrington, Georgia Credit Union Affiliates; Penny Womble, IBM Southeast EFCU; Sharon Robinson, Children’s Miracle Network; Laura Sterling, Georgia’s Own CU; Patti Monroe, IBM Southeast EFCU; Brittany Green, CDC FCU; Kem Pastorino, Delta Community CU; and Jill Wilcox, Atlanta Postal CU. (Photo provided by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates)
“We are overjoyed with the outpouring of support that has enabled us to reach a new fundraising record for the sixth year in a row,” said Laura Sterling, communications manager, Georgia’s Own CU, Atlanta. The funds will support the Patient and Family Support Services program at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, said Georgia Credit Union Affiliates. Credit unions have raised more than $63 million since 1996 through the Credit Unions for Kids program. Making an appearance at the bowling event was youth named Jack, 9, who was injured after jumping out of his family’s pontoon boat and being hit by the propeller in May 2004. Jack underwent surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta after the accident.

Illinois league chapters conference highlights PR

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NAPERVILLE, Ill. (9/2/08)--Nearly 100 chapter leaders from 24 of the Illinois Credit Union League’s (ICUL) 26 chapters attended its annual Chapter Leaders Conference last month. The conference was hosted by the Tri-County Chapter of Credit Unions and held in Utica, Ill. This year’s main program, “Stop the Presses: Raising the Profile of Your Chapter’s Good Works!” focused on helping chapters maximize public relations resources to promote activities within their communities. “Chapters are integral to the Illinois Credit Union System,” said Dan Plauda, ICUL president/CEO. “This conference was the perfect opportunity for chapter officials from around the state to network and gather ideas on how to revitalize and enhance their chapter’s effectiveness.” Several chapters were honored with Eagle Awards for quality programs provided to member credit unions and communities. The Best Community Involvement Program went to the Egyptian Chapter for its Dress for Success project, which helped 14 high school seniors prepare to enter the real world. Best Special Event awards went to:
* The Central Illinois Chapter, which focused on strengthening political ties with local legislators and statewide candidates at its legislative night event; * The Joseph S. DeRamus Chapter, which collected donations to provide Spinoza bears to a local hospital for terminally ill children; and * The Northwest Illinois Chapter, which was honored for a “Green Raffle” for a Yamaha scooter with more than $3,000 in proceeds benefiting the Illinois Credit Union Foundation, and the Credit Union Political Action Council (CUPAC), and for distributing free emergency financial first aid kits at three county fairs.
In 2007’s Chapter Competition for CUPAC, 100% of Illinois’ chapters participated for the second straight year, and raised more than $140,000. The top contributor was the Southeast Chapter, which raised $35,096. Several individuals received Chapter Leader and Chapter Representative of the Year awards. The Chapter Leader Award recipient was Penni Gebke, ICUL regional director. Other awards included:
* Karen Jurasek, iBelong Chapter Representative of the Year, Rockford Area Chapter; * Jeri Hanson, Illinois Youth Involvement Council Chapter Representative of the Year, Danville Area Chapter; and * Kim Hocking, ICU Foundation Chapter Representative of the Year, Southern Illinois Chapter.

NACUSOs BUY CUSO campaign hits 32500

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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. (9/2/08)--The National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (NACUSO) announced that it has raised $32,500 for its BUY CUSO campaign. Michigan Educational CU, Plymouth, recently donated $2,500 to support the advertising campaign. Funds have been donated by Mountain America FCU, West Jordan, Utah; CU*Answers; Member Gateways; Beyond Marketing; and TruHome Solutions. BUY CUSO is a NACUSO-sponsored campaign created to increase the awareness of credit union service organizations (CUSOs) as providers of solutions to credit unions. The campaign was launched April 28. NACUSO is an association of credit unions and CUSOs dedicated to helping credit unions grow through the National Center for Collaboration and Innovation.

Conn. CUs answer governors call 50000 for food

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MERIDEN, Conn. (9/2/08)--In response to Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell's call for support for her "Care & Share" fund-raising program to feed the hungry, the Connecticut Credit Union Charitable Foundation presented her with a check for $50,000.
Click to view larger image Connecticut Credit Union Charitable Foundation Executive Director Mary Pollaro, left, presents Gov. M. Jodi Rell a check for $50,000 for the governor's Care & Share Program to feed the hungry in the state. (Photo provided by the Connecticut Credit Union Charitable Foundation)
The governor created the program to raise $100,000 for the Connecticut Food Bank and Hartford FoodShare, the state's two largest food banks. The foundation's trustees voted overwhelmingly to meet the governor's challenge, said Mary Ann Pollaro, executive director at the foundation. "The foundation raises its funds through special programs throughout the year, such as our annual raffle and the Dick Abely Memorial Golf Tournament, so it's really Connecticut credit unions and their members who have contributed to this worthwhile program," Pollaro said. On hand to present an additional $7,000 for the program were Anthony Emerson, president/CEO of the Credit Union League of Connecticut; William J. Dokas, president/CEO of American Eagle FCU; and Kelly Fuhlbrigge, vice president, government relations with the league.

California fin-lit education bill passes Assembly

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (9/2/08)--The California State Assembly approved a California Credit Union League-supported bill Thursday that would require financial literacy instruction to be a part of future school curriculum development. Assembly Bill 1502 was introduced by assembly member Ted Lieu (D-Torrance). The bill requires the State Board of Education and the Curriculum Development and Supplemental Materials Commission to make sure that information about financial literacy is included in appropriate subject-area frameworks (US Fed News Aug. 28). “The league has been an active supporter of the bill,” Keri Bailey, league director of state government affairs, told News Now. “It will be transmitted to the governor within the next week or so. The governor will have 30 days--roughly until the end of September--to sign or veto the measure. Bailey said the league anticipates continuing its support. “For credit unions, financial literacy is a very important part of our mission to serve the communities and our members. So we are really looking forward to continuing our dialogue with the governor. We are hopeful we can get this bill signed,” she added. Three states--Missouri, Tennessee and Utah--mandate at least a one-semester course on personal finance, according to the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. At least 15 other states require personal financial instruction to be integrated into the existing curriculum.

CUNA issues call for board nominations

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (9/2/08)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is seeking nominations for eight positions on the CUNA board of directors. The eight directors will take office Feb. 27, 2009, for three-year terms to expire at the adjournment of the 2012 CUNA Annual General Meeting. Positions up for election are:
* District 1, Class B; * District 2, Class C; * District 3, Class A; * District 3, Class D; * District 4, Class B; * District 4, Class D; * District 5, Class A; and * District 6, Class C.
Nominations and seconds will be accepted beginning Friday. The deadline for nominations and seconds is Oct. 17. Nominators must submit the appropriate forms and obtain consent of the candidate. Voting will take place beginning Oct. 22 and will close on Dec. 19. For more information, use the resource links.

IUSA TODAYI tells how to check safety of CUs

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NEW YORK (9/2/08)--The nationwide newspaper USA TODAY highlighted credit unions' safety and soundness in an article, "How to check the safety of your credit union," Friday in its Money section. Financial reporter Matt Kranz answered a question, "How do I know that the money I have in my credit union is safe?" by noting that credit unions are different from banks and brokers. He pointed out credit unions' not-for-profit cooperative nature, their membership's common bond, and their federal regulator, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Members can check up on their credit union's performance by going to the NCUA's website at www.ncua.gov, he said, adding that a credit union's 5300 report will tell them how well-capitalized the credit union is and whether any loans are bad. He also noted credit unions' assets are backed by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, "which is backed by the U.S. government." The Credit Union National Association also provided input for the article.

Gulf Coast CUs were prepared for the worst from Gustav

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MADISON, Wis. (9/2/08)--As Hurricane Gustav hit landfall at 10:30 a.m. CT Monday at Cocodrie, La., credit unions, their trade association and leagues, and their regulators were already prepared for the worst. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Disaster Preparedness Team, working with the Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas leagues, activated CU Locate in each of those states, effective Monday morning. And the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) announced Monday it would activate its emergency hotline (888-584-6847) at 7 a.m. EDT today so members could check the status of credit union branches. Hurricane Gustav was a category two hurricane, with winds up to 110 mph at landfall roughly 15 miles west of Houma and about 70 miles west of New Orleans. It had been responsible for the deaths of at least 90 people in Jamaica and Cuba as a category four hurricane and prompted the largest evacuation before a hurricane in history--two million people from the New Orleans area alone. Cocodrie has no credit unions, but Houma, which has a population of 34,000, has six, according to The Credit Union Directory. They are:
* First Industrial FCU; * A branch of La Capitol FCU, based in Baton Rouge; * A branch of Post Office Employees CU, based in Metairie; * T G M E C FCU; * TEA FCU; and * Texaco CU of Houma.
The credit unions, like most in the nation, were closed due to the Labor Day holiday and the hurricane. The wide ranging storm was affecting areas in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana Monday and was headed toward Texas. Widespread flooding from up to 20 inches of rain is expected in several states. In New Orleans, the levees on the western side of the city were holding steady, with Harvey Canal closing its floodgates Monday morning, and storm and wind surge causing steady seepage over the levee at the Industrial Canal. Outer rainbands of the storm kept tornado watches and three inches of rainfall per hour in Pascagoula, Miss., and Mobile, Ala. Weather forecasters expected flooding in Louisiana and Mississippi up into southern Arkansas. On Friday, the leagues along the Gulf Coast outlined their preparations for News Now. “We’re as prepared as we can be,” Charles Elliott, CEO, Mississippi Credit Union Association, said Friday. The league have multiple communications systems in place, such as cell phones and text messaging. Emergency numbers for all credit unions and vendors are available. Back-up branches and “hot sites” were ready. Agility Recovery Solutions and VoiceGard would provide back-up communications as needed. Members also can call 1-800-CU-LOCATE to contact their local credit union, he said. The league also worked with its corporate credit unions to get plenty of cash--which members came in to get Friday. "Prior to Hurricane Katrina, they came in after,” Elliott said.. Friday was the third-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Elliott noted. The current storm was taking an emotional toll on credit unions and their members because of the uncertainty, he said. “But we’ve got some warning. Credit unions will be able to meet their members’ needs.” The Alabama Credit Union League has “been in contact with our credit unions, updating emergency contact information and distributing additional preparedness materials,” Adena Whitman Zamora, league director of public and political affairs, told News Now Friday. “We are sending out more information this afternoon and will continue to monitor the situation in preparation for next week’s landfall. “While we hope, of course, that the hurricane will not be a bad one, effective communication and preparation will help us help our credit unions through whatever events occur. “The league also is poised to provide assistance to our neighboring states in any way we can, however we are needed,” she added. The Louisiana Credit Union League (LCUL) was monitoring the storm, and had its TelSpan system ready for credit unions. Through the system, the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions, which represents Louisiana financial institutions at the Office of Emergency Preparedness, will record information and alerts related to immediate threats and/or disasters in the area. Financial institutions could dial in and hear messages or alerts at a time that was convenient for their schedules. LCUL is the only credit union league to utilize the TelSpan program, the league said. “After going through Katrina, I believe the league and Louisiana credit unions are well-prepared for Gustav,” Lacey Hyer, LCUL public relations specialist told News Now Friday. “There is still some uncertainty as to where it will make landfall, so we will continue to monitor the hurricane and take necessary precautions.” The Louisiana league's 800 number (800-452-7221) and its website (www.lcul.com) are in effect. The league gave out emergency contacts and phone numbers:
* New Orleans and Tri-Parish credit unions should contact Mary Wolfe at 504-487-8147; * Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Lake Charles credit unions should contact Jim Phillips, 225-603-2642; and * Shreveport, Alexandria and Monroe credit unions should contact Susie Fair at 318-663-7766.
NCUA encouraged all credit unions in the path of the storm to prepare for all contingencies, it said in a statement Friday. Credit unions should:
* Identify and prepare alternate sites; * Back up systems and ensure backup data is in a secure location; * Notify the NCUA regional office of the alternate site location; * Identify and prepare deploying employees to alternate locations; and * Test back up systems.
John McKechnie, NCUA's director of public and congressional affairs said Monday that in addition to its emergency toll-free hotline, 888-584-6847, credit union members can obtain additional information at its website at www.ncua.gov. NCUA will distribute public service announcements to news media in the affected states to provide essential information to consumers about federal deposit insurance coverage for credit unions and how members can access their credit union funds, he said. NCUA said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's "Ready Campaign" at www.ready.gov or at 800-BE-READY provides information about disaster preparedness, including a link to the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit, a checklist of documents and steps consumers can take to maximize their preparedness. CUNA Mutual Group also was keeping watch over the storm situation. The CUNA Mutual Group Disaster Claim hotline is 800-637-2676. “CUNA Mutual has activated its Credit Union Protection Disaster Team, which will address any storm-related losses and coordinate property-casualty relief efforts,” Rick Uhlmann, CUNA Mutual senior manager of media relations, told News Now. “Once we have a better handle on where Gustav will hit, we will contact policyholders in those areas. Meantime, we are monitoring the storm's path hourly,” he said Friday. The Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) reminded credit unions in the LoneStar Leaguer that it has a special section on its website with advisories for severe weather and disasters. It also offers a site to store critical business continuity plans at www.tcul.coop/Disaster_Preparation.html. "Hurricane Katrina taught us all a valuable lesson, and that there is no such thing as being too prepared," said TCUL CEO Dick Ensweiler. "We have alerted all of our credit unions, particularly those along the coast, and have provided them with the most current hurricane preparation material, as well as live feeds on our web site."