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N.Y. CUs unscathed by economic crisis

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NEW YORK (10/8/08)--New York credit unions have remained unharmed in the economic crisis, according to The Journal News. William J. Mellin, Credit Union Association of New York president/CEO, told the White Plains, N.Y.-based newspaper that he didn’t know of any credit union in the state with soundness problems (Oct. 4). Credit unions in New York have expanded--the number of branches grew by one-third to 21,122, the newspaper added. Quorum FCU, Purchase, N.Y. avoided the economic crisis because it did not participate in subprime lending, President/CEO Bruno Sementilli told the newspaper. Though it makes no subprime loans, the credit union does help members who have struggled with credit, he added. Because credit unions don’t have shareholders, they can take a “long view” in managing business and deliver service to members long-term, Sementilli said. Quorum has expanded its membership by attracting employees of other businesses, including Kraft Foods, Tarrytown; Good Samaritan Hospital, Suffern; Pernod Ricard USA, Purchase; and Prestige Brands, Irvington, the newspaper said. Palisades FCU, Pearl River, also remained unharmed by the economic crisis. The credit union recently put a note on its website to assure members that their deposits are safe. Connie Craven, Palisades FCU spokesman, told the newspaper the credit union’s call center received an increase in calls during the past week because of the crisis.

CU System briefs (10/07/2008)

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* SANTA ANA, Calif. (10/8/08)--SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif., donated 1,048 shirts to poor villages in Kenya and South Africa. The credit union is trying to get other credit unions worldwide to collaborate on the donation project. “We have an opportunity to help many people who are living on less than $1 per day,” said Shelly Berryman, SchoolsFirst director of member advocacy. With the World Council of Credit Unions’ help, SchoolsFirst donated the shirts to the African Congress, who will disperse them to African credit union representatives in November. The representatives will hand the shirts out to needy members. “I wanted to find a way to put our old shirts with our old name to good use, and I thought there were a lot of people in Africa who could use them,” said Jenna Elliott, SchoolsFirst division assistant for technology operations. SchoolsFirst, formerly Orange County Teachers FCU, has $8 billion in assets ... * HOUSTON (10/8/08)--Carolyn Taylor, partner at Hughes Watters Askanase, will give the opening speech at the Missouri Credit Union Association Lending Summit Oct. 22 in St. Louis. She will address loss mitigation options and pitfalls for credit unions and other mortgage lenders caught in the credit crunch. “With the industry in a state of turmoil, we hope to shift the focus of servicers, the judiciary, consumer advocates and governmental and regulatory authorities toward frank dialogue and the development of systemic and uniform approaches and solutions for these issues,” Taylor said. The lending summit is a two-day course designed for credit union presidents and CEOs, loan managers, credit committee members and other staff ... * PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (10/8/08)--Northeast CU, Portsmouth, N.H., introduced Energy Smart loans, a low fixed-rate loan product to help people afford energy-efficient home improvement products and services. “We believe in the importance of helping people obtain the energy-saving products and services they need, in order to minimize utility costs during these very challenging times of increased fuel and energy prices,” said Peter Kavalauskas, president/CEO, Northeast CU. Northeast has more than $550 million in assets ... * MANITOWOC, Wis. (10/8/08)--Thaddeus “Ted” Sekora, 87, died Sunday in Manitowoc, Wis. He served on the City Employees CU board of directors for 30 years (Herald Times Reporter Oct. 6). City Employees CU is now RiverWood-Maritime CU in Two Rivers, Wis. Riverwood has $28 million in assets ...

Grant to help fund Jumpstart Coalition

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MADISON, Wis. (10/8/08)--The Charles Schwab Foundation has announced a $150,000 grant to disseminate hard copies of the national personal finance curriculum standards, which were developed with input from the credit union movement. The award goes to the Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, and will cover the cost to print and distribute 100,000 copies of the 2007 revision of the “National Standards in K-12 Personal Finance Education.” Philip Heckman, the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) director of youth and young adult program, chaired the Jumpstart task force that produced the 2007 standards from an earlier edition. Several credit union, league, and CUNA staff reviewed drafts of the revision and provided comments for improving it. The print copies will be sent to chief state school superintendents, state department of education curriculum directors, state legislative committees dealing with education, state boards of education, and the leadership of various educational associations. “This generous grant will raise awareness of the national standards and help curriculum developers and school officials determine how to cover this subject,” Heckman said. “The national document has already influenced standards in several states, and will help ensure that personal finance courses are comprehensive and relevant to K-12 students throughout the country.” Among the practical uses for the national personal finance standards and expectations are to:
* Suggest a range of content that students should know and be able to act on; * Provide guidelines for evaluating published educational materials; * Help to shape lesson plans, unit and course outlines, learning activities, textbooks, and other instructional materials, and * Increase awareness of the need for personal finance in the nation's schools.
“The fact that credit union organizations were asked to participate in the 2007 standards revision is a measure of how highly regarded the movement is as a model for personal finance education,” Heckman added.

Mississippi licenses PCUA iBelong campaign

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (10/8/08)--The Mississippi Credit Union Association (MSCUA) has signed a licensing agreement to air the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association’s (PCUA) iBelong campaign in Mississippi. Recognizing the lack of credit union awareness by Mississippians, MSCUA sought to conduct a statewide advertising campaign. The cooperative awareness campaign concept was introduced at MSCUA’s Annual Convention and a Cooperative Awareness Campaign Committee was formed to lead development efforts. After reviewing several other state campaigns and deliberating a request-for-proposal process, the committee determined licensing PCUA’s iBelong campaign would save time, energy, and dollars to most effectively meet Mississippi’s goal of increased awareness. “The consistent iBelong campaign messages of ‘credit unions are for everyone,’ ‘better rates and fees,’ and ‘credit unions care’ will increase awareness of credit unions and the credit union difference in Mississippi,” said Charles Elliott, MSCUA president/CEO. “We feel this is an initiative our credit unions can get excited about and support.” “We are extremely pleased that the Mississippi Credit Union Association has selected the iBelong campaign,” said Jim McCormack, PCUA President/CEO. “A great deal of research went into developing the iBelong campaign by our steering committee and outside experts. Its message is timeless and engaging, regardless of locale.” The iBelong campaign launched on TV and radio stations throughout Pennsylvania in July 2006 and was licensed by the Illinois Credit Union League in 2008. Consumers seeking to join a credit union are invited to visit the iBelong.org website for online search locators. The website contains the commercials and credit union facts are also featured. The MSCUA board of directors approved an association contribution of $100,000 to help license and launch the campaign. Credit unions will be asked to contribute $1 per member in Mississippi for additional funding. One-hundred percent of credit union contributions will be utilized for advertising placement. At this level, the committee will be able to fund a television and radio campaign that will span most of 2009. “With 100% participation from our membership, we can begin to change the way Mississippi consumers think about credit unions and assist them in finding one to belong,” Elliott said. As an incentive, contributing credit unions will have access to supplemental marketing materials that compliment the commercials, allowing credit unions to “piggy back” on the campaign’s momentum. Participants will also have a listing in the iBelong website’s credit union search locator tools. Under the licensing agreement, MSCUA will use the existing iBelong website as one of the drivers and primary measurement tools for the campaign.

MarketWatch Why CUs make sense

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NEW YORK (10/8/08)--Credit unions are on “high ground” in the economic hurricane, according to MarketWatch writer Jennifer Openshaw. “[With credit unions] you can sleep at night, often with better rates and a better experience to boot,” she wrote (MarketWatch Oct. 6). Credit unions’ not-for-profit status, self-funding, deposit insurance and better rates are just some of the reasons to join a credit union, according to Openshaw. She also cited some Credit Union National Association statistics: 70% of loans are funded through a credit union’s own deposits, and 0.7% of credit unions’ mortgage loans were delinquent in July compared with 9% of mortgages in the industry overall. “[Credit unions] don't buy loans from other institutions either--that’s another ‘sleep well at night’ factor,” she said. To read the full article, use the link.

NCUF accredited by Better Business Bureau in IUSA Todayi

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McLEAN, Va. (10/8/08)—The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) appeared in a full-page ad sponsored by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) in USA Today (Oct. 7). NCUF’s full name appeared under the banner headline, “Start With Trust.” The ad encouraged charitable donors to “Look for the Better Business Bureau Charity Seal and give with confidence. It’s your assurance that a charity meets 20 rigorous BBB Wise Giving Alliance standards.” The ad was placed by BBB in USA Today’s “Special Report” section, “Sharing in the USA.” “This ad with a seal of approval from the Better Business Bureau sends a strong message to Community Investment Fund (CIF) investors, Corporate Supporters, and all donors that the National Credit Union Foundation is a charity they can trust,” said NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin. “We proudly use the BBB Accredited Charity seal as a symbol of our commitment to strong accountability, ethical practices, and sound stewardship of our donors’ funds.” Before national charities can use the BBB Accredited Charity seal, they must pass an independent evaluation under the Wise Giving Alliance’s Standards of Charity Accountability. The evaluation involves scrutiny of a charity’s governance, effectiveness, finances, solicitations, and informational materials. “The standards go well beyond what government regulators require,” Delfin said. NCUF exceeds the Wise Giving Alliance Standards on several fronts. For instance, the standards require that charities spend at least 65% of contributions on programs and grants. In its most recent fiscal year, NCUF spent 87% of contributions on programs and grants. The Wise Giving Alliance produces reports on more than 1,000 national charities. NCUF is one of only 64% qualified to display the BBB Accredited Charity seal.

Syracuse CU receives grant to fight foreclosures

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (10/8/08)--Syracuse Cooperative FCU and Home HeadQuarters were selected as grant recipients under statewide efforts to fight foreclosure, New York Gov. David A. Paterson announced last week. The two Syracuse-based organizations, which operate independent foreclosure prevention programs, will use the funding to collaboratively expand their foreclosure counseling and advocacy services in the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County. The grant to the $14-million-asset Syracuse Cooperative FCU, in partnership with HomeHead Quarters, Inc., was one of nine grants awarded by the New York State Banking Department to central and upstate New York agencies. The two partners, which were the only Onondaga County agencies to receive an award from the banking department, will use the $100,000 grant to launch an outreach campaign, deliver counseling, provide affordable refinancing options, and help borrowers obtain work-outs with their lenders. Services will be provided in English and Spanish. Syracuse Cooperative FCU is a nonprofit, community development credit union that has been fostering local economic revitalization and financial empowerment since 1982. “The irresponsible practices of many lenders have led to tough times for hard-working homeowners in our region,” said Ron Ehrenreich, Syracuse Cooperative treasurer/CEO. “As a lender that puts people over profit, we are grateful for this opportunity to help resolve the crisis in cooperation with Gov. Patterson, the banking department, and our allies at Home HeadQuarters.” “This grant brings two organizations together that are both dedicated and experienced in dealing with foreclosure,” said Kerry Quaglia, Home HeadQuarters executive director. “We hope this can act as a foreclosure model, a foreclosure triage system, that all of Central New York can utilize in the near future.” Home HeadQuarters, a local, independent not-for-profit, is a chartered member of NeighborWorks America and the largest housing and community development organization in Central and Upstate New York. Both Syracuse Cooperative FCU and Home HeadQuarters are Housing and Urban Development-approved housing counseling organizations that provide education and individual counseling to first-time homebuyers, low-income families, and homeowners struggling to avoid foreclosure. Syracuse Cooperative FCU also has received $202,825 in three homeownership grants from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF):
* A $75,000 NCUF grant through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services enables the credit union to open Individual Development Accounts for low-income tax filers who commit to saving for a down payment; * A $49,824 NCUF grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development enables the credit union to provide homeownership counseling to aspiring first-time homebuyers; * And a $25,000 NCUF Innovation Grant through the Community Investment Fund (CIF) helps the credit union increase access to innovative mortgage products and financing opportunities for low-wealth families.

Two more nominations received for CUNA board

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WASHINGTON and MADISON, Wis. (10/8/08)--Two more nominations have been received and verified for Credit Union National Association (CUNA) board positions. Mike Mercer, president/CEO, Georgia Credit Union League, Duluth, Ga., has submitted his nomination for the District 3, Class D board of directors position. Bohdan Watral, president/CEO, Selfreliance Ukrainian American FCU, Chicago, has submitted his nomination for the District 4, Class B position. The deadline for nominations for eight positions on CUNA's board is Oct. 17. Already nominated are:
* Ron Collier, CEO of Indiana Members CU, Indianapolis, District 2, Class C; * Sandy Lingerfelt, Clinchfield FCU, Erwin, Tenn., for District 3, Class A; * Brett Thompson, Wisconsin Credit Union League, Pewaukee, Wis., for District 4, Class D; and * Winona Nava, Guadalupe CU, Santa Fe, N.M., for District 5, Class A.
The eight directors elected will take office Feb. 27, 2009, for three-year terms to expire at the adjournment of the 2012 CUNA Annual General Meeting. Positions up for election are:
* District 1, Class B; * District 2, Class C; * District 3, Class A; * District 3, Class D; * District 4, Class B; * District 4, Class D; * District 5, Class A; and * District 6, Class C.
Nominators must submit the appropriate forms and obtain consent of the candidate. Voting will begin Oct. 22 and will close on Dec. 19. For more information, use the resource links.

Texas league honors award winners

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DALLAS (10/8/08)--The Texas Credit Union League honored three individuals for their commitment and service to credit unions. The individuals are: Sherry Roman, CEO, T & P FCU, Big Spring, Texas; Michael Brown, president/CEO, JSC FCU, Houston; and Joyce Gibson, board director, City CU, Dallas.
Roman was named the 2008 Small Credit Union Achiever of the Year. As CEO, Roman fills many roles, including those of a loan officer, teller, accountant, collector and marketer. She also is active in the Big Spring Chapter of Credit Union and chairs the Small Credit Union Committee. Roman is a 1987 graduate of Southwest CUNA Management School (SCMS) and attended SCMS graduate school last year. Brown was named 2008 Professional of the Year. Hewas instrumental in establishing several programs at the credit union, including:
* Star Team Club, a program for members under 12; * CU Succeed, for teens ages 13-17; * Scholars, a program for young adults ages 16 and older; and * Horizon Club, for members ages 55 and older.
Gibson was named the 2008 Volunteer of the Year. She has held several positions on the City CU board, including chair, vice chair, secretary and treasurer. She also chairs the credit union’s political action committee.