WASHINGTON (4/14/08)—Two key members of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee were asked to support a high level of funding for the Office of Microenterprise Development and the Cooperative Development Program. The request came in a joint letter from the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU). In letters to Sen Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the subcommittee on state, foreign operations, and related programs, and Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), its ranking minority member, the credit union groups said they strongly support the two programs of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “CUNA, WOCCU and our members strongly support funding for microenterprise development by USAID in the FY2009 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill at the level of $500 million, with $30 million of that designated for the Microenterprise Development office,” said the letters signed by CUNA President/CEO Dan Mica and WOCCU President/CEO Pete Crear. The credit union leaders also voiced their support of the Senate’s approval of $12 million for the Cooperative Development Program for FY2008, and urged that the same funding level be maintained for FY2009. “Microenterprise development projects funded by USAID play a critical role in increasing access to safe and affordable financial services to people in developing countries who have none. “This access not only increases the financial well-being of microenterprise beneficiaries, but improves the living conditions and economic health of their communities,” wrote Mica and Crear. They added: “The Cooperative Development Program aids the work of credit unions and other cooperatives in developing countries by funding sustainable development assistance carried out by eight U.S.-based cooperative development organizations, including WOCCU. “The program results in economic growth, enhanced community-based democracy and improved stability in some of the world’s most impoverished countries.” The letter was sent in anticipation of the subcommittee’s April 9 hearing on FY2009 state and foreign operations appropriations. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which is the vehicle through which WOCCU receives funding.