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Special Report: CUs Innovate To Reach Out To Communities
MADISON, Wis. (7/15/13)--Credit unions are innovative in reaching out to their communities and their members with the good they do. But they aren't the type to boast about it.  After all, the credit union difference is in their DNA, so what's the big deal?
 
It turns out to be a very big deal. The credit union difference is at the heart of credit unions' structure, their mission and philosophy, and their tax exemption. And raising awareness of the credit union difference is one of three central components of the Unite For Good campaign initiated by the Credit Union National Association and the state leagues to work toward the strategic vision in which "Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner."
 
To that end, News Now today begins a new, occassional series of special reports outlining some of the more creative outreach efforts begun by credit unions. See related News Now story:  CU Adapts Mobile Banking To Serve Migrant Workers."

Staff asked the state leagues and associations what's new in community outreach efforts in their states. What success stories did they know about where a credit union made a huge difference in their community? Who in their state had tried a cutting-edge approach with particularly outstanding results?

In the first week after News Now's request, leagues in 16 states submitted names of more than 40 credit unions that fit that bill. Some provided contact information and brief descriptions of what makes their credit unions special. In addition, several leagues suggested News Now check out the winners of their state-level Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Award,  Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award  and the Desjardins Youth Financial Education and Adult Financial Education Awards. Any of these, they said, would be good candidates for the outreach series.

Several leagues, such as the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas, mentioned they too are collecting social good stories of their own, as is CUNA's Unite for Good website. The Northwest Credit Union Association produced a 38-page report about Oregon credit unions doing wonderful work and said its Washington state report was due the following week.

Many responses told of student-run credit unions, financial education efforts such as Reality Fairs for youth or young adults, efforts to serve the Hispanic community, and initiatives to woo young adults with new mobile banking services. Others have special savings programs with interesting twists--such as a round-up savings program--or offer financial education to blind or visually handicapped students, or provide invest-local certificates. Many help fund community resource centers or offer scholarships to reward students for voluntarism. All the efforts mentioned provide value to the member but also to the community at large.

Today's article features Ventura County CU in Ventura, Calif., discussing how it attracted 210 migrant workers and helped them save a combined total of at least $65,000. (See: CU Adapts Mobile Banking To Serve Migrant Workers.)

Credit unions that have interesting stories of their own programs can send their information to News Now at newsnow@cuna.coop  or post them on the Unite For Good website. Use the links.
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