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BEST program pilots last cycle underway
MADISON, Wis. (3/28/12)--Credit unions in New Jersey are implementing the final phase of a collaborative project that provides internship opportunities for people with disabilities.

Through the Building Economic Strength Together (BEST) program, New Jersey credit unions are providing internships for people with disabilities. A group of interns, credit union representatives, and program partners met at a recent luncheon at the New Jersey Credit Union League office to discuss their experiences. (Photo provided by the National Credit Union Foundation)
The last cycle of Building Economic Strength Together (BEST) is underway after its pilot debuted two years ago.

The BEST program was developed by a strategic partnership among the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) through its REAL Solutions program, the New Jersey Credit Union League and the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation, the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, the National Disability Institute, and Allies Inc., a New Jersey-based training group for people with disabilities, with funding provided by the Kessler Foundation.

The BEST program provides internships to persons with disabilities in New Jersey credit unions with the goal of creating permanent employment opportunities while developing best practices for credit unions to serve these families.

"These interns have been very productive in the credit unions they are working in," said Paul Gentile, league president/CEO. "Some have even gone on to full-time positions and could very well become our credit union leaders of the future. It's been equally rewarding to see our credit unions learn how to better serve this underserved segment of America. I hope it can be emulated in other parts of the country."

During the two-year program, 44 New Jersey credit unions hosted 54 interns during seven cycles. While credit unions were under no obligation to hire the interns at the conclusion of the six-week training period, several interns are working either full-time or part-time at the credit unions.
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