WASHINGTON (4/23/09)--Surpassing its goal to reach 33 states by year-end 2009, REAL Solutions--the signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF)--is now reaching 34 states and 1,200 credit unions. In the first four months of 2009, four more states have agreed to offer REAL Solutions: Georgia, Idaho, Pennsylvania and Vermont. NCUF’s REAL Solutions National Program Director Lois Kitsch has set a new personal goal to bring REAL Solutions to 40 states by year-end. At the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA), REAL Solutions liaisons are witnessing a new phenomenon: Credit unions are already signing up for REAL Solutions even before PCUA’s meeting to introduce the program. “In this uncertain economy, credit unions are looking for new ways to help members build good credit, grow savings, and gain assets,” said Kitsch. “The need for REAL Solutions has never been greater.” At the same time, NCUF is providing “virtual solutions” accessible to credit unions in every state. The online REAL Solutions Impact Center (see link) features new toolkits, podcasts, monographs, blogs, and many other resources to help credit unions offer sustainable products and services for members with low wealth. Low-wealth members include people with low income or modest means, and people with moderate and middle incomes who are struggling to save or hold onto assets. Surveys on the Impact Center indicate how REAL Solutions’ participating credit unions are saving members tens of millions of dollars. “The most successful products and services are not only affordable for consumers, but also sustainable for credit unions,” Kitsch explained. “Sustainable products and services become a permanent part of credit unions’ business plans--as opposed to ‘loss leaders’ that must be limited in volume or subsidized by other parts of the credit unions’ operations.” “As credit unions seek resources to better serve low-wealth households and emerging markets, REAL Solutions has become an even more critical business strategy for credit unions growing their memberships by serving the underserved,” said NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin. “Now that the strategies are detailed online on the REAL Solutions Impact Center, thousands more credit unions can benefit from our shared experiences across the country.” NCUF, state credit union foundations and leagues are funding REAL Solutions through the Community Investment Fund (CIF), which won the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Award for Fundraising Excellence. CIF investments are structured to earn dividends for each investing credit union while making charitable donations to NCUF and state credit union organizations.