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Special Report: Maps CU's CDFI Certification Reflects Community Focus

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SALEM, Ore. (9/5/13)--Maps CU's path to community development financial institution certification indirectly began when it changed to a community charter in 2009.  At that time, the credit union sought to create a membership that truly reflected the makeup of its community, Jill Nowacki, the credit union's vice president of development told News Now.
"We made an effort to serve our entire community," Nowacki said. "Stemming from that we saw that the work we were doing positioned us as a true community development financial institution."
Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) certification is a designation given by the U.S. Treasury to entities that primarily serve low- to moderate-income members, or have a primary mission of community development.
Maps CU, based in Salem, Ore., with $470 million in assets, partnered with CDFI certification and grant writing firm CU Strategic Planning through the CDFI application process, which included documentation, target market analysis and narrative of the credit union's community development efforts.
But before it formally applied for CDFI certification, Maps CU established its identity within its community. The credit union partnered with two community development corporations to provide financial education to underserved population segments.
"The partnerships enabled us to offer financial education, which is an area in which we are strong, rather than just going out and marketing to underserved markets," said Nowacki.
Similarly, the credit union partnered with a local literacy center to provide education.
"We actually hesitated because we wanted to build trust and talk about the value of having a financial account, but we didn't want to simply say that account should be at Maps. But the literacy center asked us if we would do account opening because oftentimes the biggest obstacle to opening an account can be transportation to the financial institution or the hours of operation," Nowacki added.
In defining its underserved market, Maps CU discovered some surprises.
"I don't think we picture youth or young adults as being underserved, but often they are," Nowacki said. "They have limited credit history. They often have lots of student debt and limited income. It's not easy being a college graduate in this economy."
For those reasons, the Maps CU's Credit Builder Loan, originally conceptualized primarily for the Hispanic market is also a hit with Gen Y, Nowacki said.
The credit union also serves the youth market with three high school student branches and three elementary school savings clubs.
The credit union even extended its reach to a local correctional facility. Maps CU supports a college program at Mill Creek Correctional Facility. The credit union provides students with eight hours of financial education, financial management books and offers two $500 scholarships to program participants who are being released with one year and aspire to continue their education.
With its CDFI designation,  Maps hopes to gain access to financial assistance to bring more services to its underserved community. The credit union is waiting on approval a grant request that would help it fund a lending program to provide affordable car loans to working families.
"We are hoping to put in place a program that enables us to expand lending to people who are having trouble accessing affordable credit for transportation," Nowacki said. "The reason why it is critical in our community is because we have a very limited public transportation system, with limited hours and services.
"Providing a family with a car can literally change their lives," she adds.
Having the ability to make that kind of difference has been the result of a long journey for Maps CU, said Nowacki. "When we first thought about serving our community, we thought we had all the financial services anybody would want and we could just print our marking materials in Spanish, but it's much more than that.
"We took the time to know our community partners and identify everyone's needs. It's a lesson in patience, but more importantly, it's a lesson in how much more effective you can be if you stop and learn about the community you serve."
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.

United Nations To Conduct Global Census On Cooperatives

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NEW YORK (9/5/13)--Following the 2012 International Year of Cooperatives, the United Nation's Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) is beginning a first of its kind effort to conduct a global census on the cooperative system, which includes credit unions.
The International Year of Cooperatives raised the awareness of cooperatives and provided significant anecdotal evidence of their contribution to socio-economic development. The United Nations General Assembly resolution A/RES/66/123 not only proclaimed 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives but also encouraged governments, in collaboration with all stakeholders, to intensify and expand the availability and accessibility of research on the operations and contribution of cooperatives.
As has been the case with initiatives around global remittances flows and access to financial services, the United Nations again intends to play a catalyst role by initiating research on the scope, size and impact on an under-studied area. The International Year of Cooperatives brought to light the lack of comprehensive data on cooperatives and raised questions on how to successfully support their development. Today, only certain sectors of cooperatives--such as insurance, banking--and nations collect data.
As such, United Nations DESA is conducting a global census on cooperatives and mutuals with the assistance of in the field of cooperatives, Dave Grace & Associates. This activity will consolidate existing aggregate data on cooperatives and include new sources of information on cooperatives. The census began in August and results will be available towards the end of 2013.
The United Nations asks all partners in the cooperative system to participate in the forthcoming census.
For more information regarding the census contact Wenyan Yang, chief, social perspective on development, Division for Social Policy and Development, DESA or the research team at

Leagues Keep Up 'Don't Tax My CU' Energy

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WASHINGTON and PORTLAND, Maine (9/5/13)--State credit union leagues are continuing their efforts to promote the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign to preserve credit unions' federal tax status in Maryland and the District of Columbia and in Maine.  
Today has been named "Don't Tax My Credit Union Day" by the Maryland and District of Columbia Credit Union Association (MDDCCUA). Credit union CEOs, employees and members will take to the streets of D.C. to rally and voice support for "Don't Tax My Credit Union," which saves members more than $138 million per year.
MDDCCUA will issue a public plea for an additional 5,000 contacts or signatures of support by Sept. 12. More than 8,000 contacts have already been made to Congress by Maryland and Washington, D.C., consumers.
If Maryland and District of Columbia credit unions are required to pay income tax, it could wipe out the $138 million in annual savings two million consumers in Maryland and the District of Columbia receive by choosing credit unions as their financial partner, said MDDCCUA.
Meanwhile, Maine Credit Union League President John Murphy appeared on Maine Public Broadcasting Network's Maine Calling, an interactive radio call in show hosted by Jennifer Rooks. Chris Pinkham, president of the Maine Bankers Association, also appeared.
Murphy discussed credit union tax advocacy efforts. He also covered the basic differences between banks and unique, not-for-profit credit unions that are owned by their members. Chartering and field of membership issues also were discussed during the show.
The fact is that credit unions have an obligation to their members to provide the products and services they expect and deserve, Murphy said.
Callers also noted the member-owned structure of credit unions, and the value that structure provides. Credit unions are willing to take their time and work with their members a little more, one caller said.
To listen to the show, use the link.
National contacts for credit unions and credit union members contacting Congressional members as part of the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" campaign total 800,000, CUNA said.

Survey: More Than 80% Of U.S. Citizens Pay Off Debt, Rather Than Save

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BOSTON (9/5/13)--More than 80% of U.S. citizens surveyed admit that they would rather pay down their debts than save for their future, according to a recent online poll conducted by American Consumer Credit Counseling  (ACCC). 
"With outstanding consumer debt surpassing $2.8 trillion, Americans are being forced to choose between paying down rising debts and saving for a healthy financial future," said Steve Trumble, ACCC president/CEO. "Although diminishing credit card debt is important, a balance must be struck between preparing for financial downturns and limiting the amount of debt that you hold."
The survey also found that 58% of consumers do not regularly deposit money into a savings account--a risky financial move that could land consumers further into debt.
Of the 397 consumers surveyed in the recent ACCC web poll at, 83% say paying down credit card debt is more important than putting away funds for a rainy day or future investments such as retirement or their children's education. Also, 27% of those surveyed confessed that they hold over $20,000 in credit card debt, which typically holds the highest annual interest rate. 
ACCC's national survey also found that 25% of respondents reported they simply do not earn enough money to stash away any savings for the future, while only 6% confessed that their excessive spending habits restrict their ability to save.
There are several steps that can help consumers pay down their debts, while stowing away money for future financial security, said ACCC. Some initial steps that consumers can take include:
  • Create a budget to see what your total monthly financial commitments look like and then list all your debts from lowest to highest, organizing debt by the highest interest rates.
  • Pay off an entire balance. It's really a matter of choice when it comes to choosing to either pay off the lowest debt or tackle the card with the highest interest rate. However, many consumers reap an emotional reward when they can quickly pay off an entire balance, which often motivates them to continue.
  • Pay only the minimum amount on other debts while you are trying to pay off your targeted debt payment and, if possible, always pay more than the minimum to pay off that debt faster.
  • Cut back on any non-essential expenses such as entertainment, and utilities such as cable while trying to pay down debt and save for the future. Apply this extra savings to the targeted debt payment.
  • Include a savings column in your budget, even if it is as little as $5, and put that money aside in a separate account.
  • Don't give up. Proper planning and realistic goal-setting will lead to financial success.
The saving and debt repayment poll is the latest in a series of ACCC web surveys for 2013 that focus on financial education, budgeting and planning topics. The online survey can be found using the link.
Credit unions in several states run prize-linked savings programs such as Save to Win to encourage members to save money.

California CUs Receive $122,000 in FHLB Grants

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SAN FRANCISCO (9/5/13)--The Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco awarded $122,000 in Access to Housing and Economic Assistance for Development (AHEAD) grants to two California credit unions Tuesday.
Mendo Lake CU, with $135 million in assets, Ukiah, Calif., received $92,000 for three projects. A $42,000 grant will help fund construction of a six-unit mobile housing unit demonstration model for migrant farmworkers in Santa Rosa Calif. A $25,000 grant will assist with the development of children-at-risk resource center in Ukiah, Calif., and a $25,000 grant will provide business development, consumer, and home loans to Indian tribes within a nine-county region of California.
Meriwest CU, with $1 billion in assets, San Jose, Calif., received $30,000 in grant funds to develop a second career job training program in Campbell, Calif.

CUNA Regulatory Compliance School Announces Dates For 2014

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MADISON, Wis. (9/5/13)--The CUNA Regulatory Compliance School will take place April 6-11 in Hollywood, Calif., and Sept. 14-19 in Chicago. Registration and school details are available at  
CUNA Regulatory Compliance School offers attendees a thorough understanding of the current regulatory environment through an overall compliance update and in-depth examinations of individual regulations. Participants can register for either Introduction or Update learning tracks, to account for varying degrees of compliance familiarity.
"Our goal in hosting this school is to make sure that credit union compliance professionals feel capable of performing their duties effectively in 2014," said Melisa Kallestad, manager of compliance for the Credit Union National Association. "CUNA Regulatory Compliance School is as much about building our attendees' confidence and resources as it is the specifics of regulation."
CUNA's compliance experts are devoted to equipping attendees with the tools and knowledge to meet future compliance questions head on. CUNA's Washington, D.C., compliance team will focus on today's most pressing compliance issues at the general session. Breakout sessions allow attendees to choose specialized pursuits that are of the most value to them while networking with fellow credit union compliance professionals.
This year's program will feature a two-day pre-conference CUNA Marketing Compliance for those attendees interested in the specifics of marketing compliance.  
Attendees will also have the opportunity to earn the nationally recognized CUNA Credit Union Compliance Expert (CUCE) designation, by successfully completing the optional exam.  
For more information about CUNA Regulatory Compliance School and to register, use the link.

Gary Oakland Receives Wegner Award For Lifetime Achievement

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MADISON, Wis. (9/5/13)--The National Credit Union Foundation Wednesday named Gary Oakland, retired president/CEO of BECU in Seattle, Wash., as the final one of three winners of the 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.
This is the first time in NCUF's history that three awards for Lifetime Achievement will be given. Oakland's award will be one of four total Herb Wegner Memorial Awards presented at a special dinner hosted by NCUF at the Grand Hyatt Washington on Feb. 24 during the Credit Union National Association's 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference.
"Gary is a slam dunk as a choice to bestow the Wegner Lifetime Achievement Award," said John Gregoire, Chair of NCUF Wegner Awards Selection Committee and President of The ProCon Group in Madison, Wis. "Gary's contributions to the credit union movement were so obvious as everything he touches turns to success for the average American consumer. It's evident in the growth of BECU, the state supervision system, dual credit union chartering, Biz Kid$, NCUF, and much more. It's also an honor to see Gary receiving the award rather than giving one."
NCUF is issuing four 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Achievement Awards. The foundation previously named Tim Haegelin, retired president/CEO of Generations FCU in San Antonio, Texas, and Jim McCormack, president/CEO of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association, as recipients of the 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement.
Sarah Canepa Bang, president of CO-OP Shared Branching-FSCC LLC and chief strategy officer of CO-OP Shared Branching, will be presented the 2014 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Individual Achievement.
There will be no outstanding program or organization award in 2014.
Over the course of his career, Oakland has supported the credit union movement in many ways. Those include serving on the board of the Credit Union National Association and as board chair for the Washington Credit Union League, the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors, Filene Advisory Council and Board, and the National Credit Union Foundation.
In his time as CEO of BECU, Oakland guided the credit union to provide aid for more than a dozen low income nationwide. With his leadership, BECU was also able to play key roles in the founding of two low-income designate credit unions: TULIP CU and Express CU. Oakland also oversaw BECU's creation of Prime Alliance (now Mortgage Cadence), a credit union service organization that provides mortgage solutions to roughly 600 credit unions.
Under Oakland's leadership, BECU grew from 108,000 members when he took on the position of CEO in 1986 to over 775,000 members at the time of his retirement in 2012.
Oakland was known for accommodating the needs of Boeing employees and providing guidance in responsible financial practices. He also led the credit union to a statewide field of membership to allow more members of the community to benefit from the credit union advantage: member-focused service with better rates and fewer fees.
While this growth trajectory could have changed the organization's culture, Oakland held BECU true to its founding principles and the credit union philosophy of People Helping People. In 2006, BECU had an opportunity to return a portion of its reserves to its member base. He instated the Member Advantage account, which reversed the interest rate tiers, providing more return for smaller savings accounts and creating incentive to start saving at a time when U.S. savings rates were at or below 0.
Among Oakland's most influential accomplishments was the role he played in the launch of the PBS program, Biz Kid$, an award-winning financial education show for youth. Through leading the production initiative, committing $500,000 initially and $1 million over-all, bringing together a group of credit unions that raised $2.6 million per year, and ultimately making the project a possibility, Oakland has become the face associated with the show's success.
After five seasons, Biz Kid$ has won two Emmy Awards and was nominated for 11 more. It claims nationwide recognition and makes a daily difference in the lives of its youth audiences.
In 1995, at a member's suggestion, he led the establishment of the BECU Foundation, a chartered foundation that provides college scholarships to students who excel in academics, leadership and community service. Since its creation, the BECU Foundation has awarded more than $1.5 million to 715 students.
Oakland served on the Board of Seattle's Neighborhood Children's Club, helping many children get on the right track to a productive future, and has guided BECU to support a number of non-profit organizations that provide affordable housing, including Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, Impact Capital and Plymouth Housing.