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Texas fin-ed initiative expands with NCUF grant
MADISON, Wis. (8/30/12)--A statewide initiative from the Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF) is inspiring Texans to work together to improve the financial well-being of citizens in their communities, from preschool to adulthood.

Foundation FOCUS, a financial education initiative from the Texas Credit Union Foundation, was expanded through a National Credit Union Foundation Financial Education Grant. Here, a group presents techniques and best practices for teaching financial education in schools at the 2012 Foundation FOCUS in-person meeting in February in Dallas. (Photo provided by the National Credit Union Foundation)
The collaborative financial literacy initiative, called Foundation FOCUS, was expanded with the help of a National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) Financial Education Grant.

"Texas consistently has had one of the lowest average credit scores of any state in the country," said Courtney Moran, TCUF executive director. Texas credit unions and the Texas foundation "see the need and are taking great strides in bringing financial awareness to credit union members and classrooms throughout the state."

The Foundation FOCUS initiative includes training events such as train-the-trainer workshops for Texas credit union staff and a network of professionals to teach and discuss financial literacy concepts to consumers of all ages.

TCUF set a goal of establishing FOCUS as the premier program promoting financial education in Texas by increasing the number of Foundation FOCUS Network members and financial education training sessions throughout the state. The foundation also sought to expand the initiative to include adult financial education in addition to youth.

FOCUS, which was established in 2011, has its roots in TCUF's "Project NEFE," which began in 2007 in response to revised National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP) materials. Project NEFE was a statewide collaborative led by TCUF to bring the accredited HSFPP, along with comprehensive training, to schools across Texas free of charge.

The centerpiece of the initiative is the Foundation FOCUS Network, which is built around credit union professionals, Texas AgriLife Extension agents, educators, state agency representatives, Junior Achievement volunteers and staff, community non-profit organizations, and others interested in financial education. Each member assists with the promotion and delivery of curricula from preschool to retirement through internal and external marketing, training other individuals, and/or hands-on classroom or individual instruction.

The Foundation FOCUS Network includes 447 members--an increase of over 100 members in the previous year.

Over the past year, TCUF and the network have held 14 NEFE Train-the-Trainer workshops, attended by 325 attendees from 51 credit unions, 53 schools and districts, and 59 community organizations. The network also partnered with the Arkansas Credit Union League to conduct a financial education workshop for Arkansas credit unions and teachers.

NCUF grants are made possible by supporters of the foundation and the Community Investment Fund, an award-winning system of investments that help credit unions earn dividends while donating to national and state community development programs.
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