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Correction Fraud investigation doesnt involve Latino CU

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MADISON, Wis. (11/20/07)--A fraud investigation regarding North Carolina State Rep. Thomas Wright (D-Wilmington) did not involve Latino Community CU, as reported by News Now on Monday. News Now regrets the error.

NEFE cites CUNA as a partner receiving best fin ed award

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MADISON, Wis. (11/20/07)--The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) cited its partnership with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) regarding the “Best Financial Education Award” NEFE received from the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE) last week. The award was presented Friday morning to NEFE for its High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP) during the AFCPE’s conference in Tampa, Fla. Janet Garkey, special materials editor for CUNA’s center for personal finance, represented CUNA during the conference and commented on CUNA’s partnership with NEFE. “The award is well-deserved,” said Phil Heckman, CUNA director of youth programs. “NEFE is a top national advocate for youth financial literacy.” The AFCPE award recognizes HSFPP’s effectiveness. The program has been evaluated twice, showing improvement in students’ knowledge and confidence about finances. Few programs are scientifically evaluated for effectiveness, Heckman said. CUNA partnered with NEFE in 2000. Under the partnership, CUNA encourages credit unions to have their local schools offer HSFPP, which is a free financial education resource for high school students. Since CUNA has gotten involved, hundreds of credit unions have actively promoted and taught the program. Five million student guides have been distributed since the program’s inception in 1984, and two-thirds of those carry the America's Credit Unions brand, Heckman said. HSFPP has been brought in line with current curriculum standards in each state. It also has online resources available. The program’s content was revised this year, with a number of credit union people serving on the task force. “Having great partners doesn’t always just show up in the number of materials ordered,” said John Parfrey, NEFE director. “It also shows up in the thought leadership that lives in our organizations, it shows up in our commitment to promote an important idea, and it shows up in the efforts of putting together a financial education program for an important segment of society--our nation’s young people.” Parfrey also acknowledged America’s Credit Unions’ contributions, along with the National Cooperative Extension System. NEFE’s HSFPP was founded with the goal of educating high school students about sound money management skills, the financial planning process and helping teens develop positive behaviors that are necessary to attaining financial maturity and achieving a secure future. For more information, use the links.

CU System briefs (11/19/2007)

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* ARLINGTON, Va. (11/20/07)--George Reynolds, chairman of the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS), has been elected chairman of the State Financial Regulators Roundtable (SFRR). Reynolds is senior deputy commissioner of the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance. SFRR is a forum for state regulatory associations to promote state regulatory oversight of financial service providers. It is comprised of NASCUS, the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators, American Council of State Savings Supervisors, Conference of State Bank Supervisors, Money Transmitter Regulators Association, National Association of Consumer Credit Administrators, National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and North American Securities Administrators Association. Reynolds was elected to a two-year term. NASCUS will assume administrative direction of SFRR for the duration of Reynolds' term … * BEAVERTON, Ore. (11/20/07)--The Credit Union Association of Oregon (CUAO) announced its 2007 award recipients. The Distinguished Service Award in the professional category went to Shirley Cate, CEO of Providence Health System FCU, Portland. The Distinguished Service Award recipient in the volunteer category was Betty James of SELCO Community CU, Eugene. The Young Credit Union Professional Award was received by Ken Olson, CEO of Old West FCU, John Day. The Heidemann Scholar Award went to Janet Buckalew of Pacific Crest FCU, Klamath Falls … * ATLANTA (11/20/07)--CDC FCU is partnering with the Federal Home Loan Bank to allocate up to $1 million in funds for first-time, low-to-moderate income homebuyers who can't afford all mortgage closing costs. The CDC FCU Homebuyer Grant Program is available for Georgia citizens who do not exceed 80% of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) median income, currently at $55,400 for individuals and more for larger families. The credit union's wholly owned subsidiary, Briarwood Financial Services LLC, awards up to $10,000 per household to eligible buyers. To be eligible, the borrower must complete a homeownership education program, contribute at least $500 in cash toward the down payment and occupy the home as a primary residence for five years. If the buyer fulfills the last requirement, the grant is cleared in its entirety …

NCUF federation partner to implement HUD grant

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WASHINGTON and NEW YORK (11/20/07)--The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has contracted with the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions to help implement NCUF’s $710,296 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The federation’s CU Breakthrough consulting team will provide technical assistance and training to HUD-certified credit unions. Twenty-two credit unions are using the HUD grant through NCUF to provide homeownership counseling for consumers with low incomes. “Many of the most successful counselors reaching low-income members through our HUD grant are at community development credit unions (CDCUs),” said NCUF Executive Director Steve Delfin. “The foundation and federation teams will work together to bring additional housing program experience to CDCUs, and share CDCUs’ member service strategies with credit unions whose field of membership is not primarily low-income," Delfin said, adding the partnership will leverage both organizations’ expertise to serve low-income communities. Federation President/CEO Cliff Rosenthal noted that NCUF is an important supporter of the CDCU movement. "Housing counseling is a crucial service for credit unions serving low-income communities, and this program will provide credit unions with the expertise to help their members avoid the current mortgage crisis and potential foreclosure." Rosenthal said expanding the federation's capacity in this area will enhance the impact of its CDCU Mortgage Center LLC, a secondary mortgage market to that helps credit unions free up capital for responsible, affordable mortgage lending. The CU Breakthrough consulting team will work with NCUF’s technical assistance team led by Mark Lynch. Lynch serves as a field coach for NCUF’s signature program, REAL Solutions.

Pennsylvania Association to initiate green CU campaign

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (11/20/07)--The Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) board of directors initiated a campaign for state credit unions to become environmentally friendly at its quarterly meeting last week in Harrisburg. “The board decided that it should be a leader with respect to going green,” Mike Wishnow, PCUA senior vice president of communications and marketing, told News Now. “The board will develop programs to encourage credit unions to go green and then highlight their efforts in this area, as well as highlight best practices.” The board unanimously adopted a 2008 budget to:
* Provide copies of CUNA’s Small Credit Union Salary Survey to member credit unions with assets of $35 million or less; and * Place an additional 150 sample policies on InfoSight.
A budget summary will be available on the PCUA website by the end of the year. In other actions, the board:
* Approved a $10,000 contribution to the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation; * Approved the initiation of a task force of credit union leaders to study PCUA membership fees; and * Continued its support of the iBelong and Credit Union Better Choice programs.
“The PCUA board recognizes the importance of credit unions providing an alternative to predatory payday loans,” said Diana Roberts, PCUA board chair, and CEO of Hershey FCU. “With the support of the State Treasury, as well as the 62 credit unions that offer the Credit Union Better Choice program, Pennsylvania consumers will save more than one million dollars in fees, while beginning to build wealth and receive financial education that will improve the quality of their lives.” During the meeting, the status of the iBelong awareness campaign was reported by Mike Kaczenski, chair of the advocacy/marketing task force at PCUA. He noted the key barrier to credit union growth is lack of awareness on the part of non-credit union members. “Our iBelong campaign is raising awareness of credit unions throughout the state and has been recognized by a number of other state leagues as a model program for increasing credit union awareness,” he said. Also at the meeting, Pennsylvania Secretary of Banking Steven Kaplan discussed the financial services environment and the department’s top priorities at the meeting. David Lundgren, executive vice president/chief products officer for CUNA Mutual Group, provided insight on future directions of the company and solicited input and feedback from board members.

Retired exec finds balloon from CUs student project

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GLADSTONE, Mo. (11/20/07)--A retired credit union executive found a ‘drug-free’ balloon message that was launched by a student as part of Red Ribbon Week, a drug prevention school project supported by CommunityAmerica CU of Lenexa, Kan. Tyrique Bennett, of Meadowbrook Elementary School in Gladstone, Mo., sent the balloon that says “Drug Free * that’s me,*” asking “When my balloon finds you, please let me know.” The balloon was found by Bob Korthase, a retired vice president of investments at 66 FCU, in Bartlesville, Okla., and a former chairman of the National Youth Involvement Board (NYIB), while driving in rural Oklahoma. He found it near some land that has been in his family for years. While Korthase was chairman of NYIB, he got credit unions involved with another youth project--the National Endowment for Financial Education. Korthase sent a one-page letter to Tyrique and her teacher, thanking them for participating in the project. Korthase commended Tyrique for being drug-free and taking part in the project. Korthase wrote in the letter: “Your balloon and your message have been in for a wild ride of about 230 miles from your school to the pasture on our 80 acres. But not nearly as wild of a ride as those people that get involved with drugs. Red Ribbon Week is a time for communities and individuals to come together for the hopes and dreams of children through a commitment to drug prevention and education and a personal commitment to live drug-free lives. That’s just what you did, and I am proud of you!” Korthase concluded his letter by telling Tyrique that he was sending copies of his letter to her school and others to make them aware of the good work she has done and to pass on the drug-free message, so that it gets the attention it deserves.

National Maxwell Herring award winners selected

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MADISON, Wis. (11/20/07)--The Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) awards committee has announced this year’s winners of the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility and Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Awards. Dora Maxwell first place winners include:
* Great Horizons FCU, Hammond, Ind.; * GraCo FCU, Alma, Mich.; * Soo Line CU, Minneapolis; * Maine Family FCU, Lewiston, Maine; * Avanta FCU, Billings, Mont.; * Denver Community CU, Denver; * CommunityAmerica CU, Lenexa, Kan.; and * Austin Chapter of Credit Unions in Texas.
First place Louise Herring award winners include:
* Kentucky Employees CU, Frankfort, Ky.; * Elga CU, Burton, Mich.; and * US FCU, Burnsville, Minn.
Maxwell, an organizer for the credit union movement’s trade association and original signer of CUNA’s constitution, worked to organize hundreds of credit unions in the U.S., developed volunteer organizer clubs and worked with organizations to help the poor. The Maxwell award is presented to credit unions in seven asset-size categories and a chapter category for outstanding social responsibility. Herring, a supporter of credit unions, signed the original constitution for a national credit union association when she was the Ohio delegate to the 1934 national credit union conference in Estes Park, Colo. Herring saw credit unions as more than just financial institutions and believed they should work to better people’s lives. The Herring award is given to a credit union demonstrating the internal application of the credit union philosophy to help improve financial matters and increase financial education for its members. “Credit unions hold firm to their belief in social responsibility and the people-first philosophy they were founded on,” said Dan Mica, president/CEO of CUNA. “The Maxwell and Herring awards program is a chance to honor credit unions that have created and implemented innovative community involvement and financial education programs, as well as an opportunity to share these ideas with the entire credit union movement.” Winning entries will be displayed at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), March 2-6 in Washington, D.C. For a complete list of winners, use the link.

DebtX to sell 26 million of CUs foreclosures

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BOSTON (11/20/07)--DebtX, the electronic debt exchange agency selected by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to manage the sale of foreclosed home loans from the now-liquidated Huron River Area CU, plans to sell $26 million of the loans on Dec. 13. The Boston-based commercial debt exchange announced Monday it will sell the loans, which were secured by properties near Fort Myers, Fla. The transaction involves the sale of 100 loans in single-family subdivisions in Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres and Northpoint near Fort Myers. NCUA had been overseeing the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based credit union's operations since February and liquidated the credit union on Saturday. Huron River's assets were purchased and assumed by Detroit Edison CU, a $485 million asset credit union based in Detroit (News Now Nov. 19). The average FICO score of the borrowers on the foreclosed homes was 692, the average loan balance is $261,000 and the average value of the home was $360,000 at funding, said DebtX. DebtX CEO Kingsley Greenland said, "This is one of the largest credit union loan sales in recent memory," and that the firm was anticipating strong demand from Florida investors and those who want to diversify their portfolios. Investors can register to make bids at www.debtx.com or by calling 617-531-3400.

Fitch affirms ratings of Southwest Central Corporates

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CHICAGO (11/20/07)--Fitch Ratings has affirmed ratings of Southwest Corporate FCU and Central Corporate CU. It affirmed Southwest Corporate FCU’s long-term issuer Default Rating (IDR) and short-term IDR at “AA-” and “F1+,” respectively. Plano, Texas-based Southwest’s ratings are indicative of the company’s low credit-risk profile and ample liquidity, Fitch said. However, the company’s investment portfolio contains some exposure to higher-risk structured products that could cause some instability in earnings and capital, Fitch added (BusinessWire Nov. 13). Southwest is conservatively managed and has well-established risk-management processes, Fitch said, while recognizing Southwest for its franchise within the corporate credit union network. The pending merger of Southwest with Northwest Corporate FCU of Portland, Ore., has been approved by Northwest members and the National Credit Union Administration. The merger becomes effective Dec. 1. Fitch also affirmed Central Corporate CU’s (CenCorp) long-term issuer IDR and short-term IDR at “AA-” and “F1+,” respectively. A liquid balance sheet and low-risk profile are reflected in Southfield, Mich.-based CenCorp’s ratings, Fitch said. A small part of CenCorp’s portfolio is invested in mortgage-backed and asset-backed securities, some of which are higher risk-structured products negatively affected by dislocation in the credit markets. Fitch found that CenCorp’s liquidity position is sound because the company maintains adequate liquidity with liquid assets and contingent funding sources. Although CenCorp recently reduced its membership capital share deposit requirements, Fitch found that its projected capital ratios remain sufficient.