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CU Strategic Planning led increase in CFDI grants
TACOMA, Wash. (6/18/12)--With the announcement that community development financial institutions (CDFI)  funding to credit unions increased 100% last year, one company is claiming credit for a sizeable portion of the boost, saying it is good underwriting for grants that made the difference.

Tacoma, Wash.-based CU Strategic Planning said that higher quality applications--regardless of institution type--succeed in the scoring established by the CDFI fund.

"We expect to see this approval rate continue to grow," said Chuck Cockburn, CU Strategic Planning president/CEO, a former turn-around credit union CEO and a former director of statistics with the National Credit Union Administration. "We wrote even more awards in 2012 than we did in 2011, and our process improvement continued even after our team established the record for the most grants ever won by a single credit union grant-writing team."

So, what's different about the company that helps it succeed in grant writing? The company claims it is not the least expensive and it spends about three times as much time on applications than other grant writers. The previous business model in CDFI grant writing established and promoted by the credit union industry guided credit unions to use templates, and lower cost grant writers without an investment in individualized community research.

"Chuck makes every CU Strategic Planning grant writer pass a grueling writing sample examination," said CU Strategic Planning founder Jamie Chase. "Credit union clients must pass a credit union financial assessment to work with us."

In 2011, the firm wrote 17 applications, compared with five in 2010, and achieved success in obtaining grants for 76% of its credit union clients, compared with a 30% success rate elsewhere.

CU Strategy Planning will share its best practices with credit unions at a Making History: Credit Union CDFI Conference Sept. 19-20. At the conference, the company will review failed credit union CDFI applications and make recommendations on how to improve them and resubmit them.

Also, Mike Beall, CEO of the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA), and Chase will share information about MCUA's first statewide CDFI project Thursday during the Credit Union Development Educator workshop in San Diego, and again at Southwestern Management School on July 11.

See related story, "Strong CU support will continue, CDFI says" in News Now's Washington section.


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