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CU System Briefs (04/17/2013)

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  • LOCKPORT, N.Y. (4/17/13)--A woman who frequently conducted business at a branch of Lockport, N.Y.-based Cornerstone Community FCU was arrested Monday and charged with third-degree robbery April 10 at the credit union. Dale L. Swain, 55, had filed a claim against the credit union after falling in its parking lot (The Buffalo News April 15). The robbery occurred at 3:30 p.m. when a woman handed a teller three notes demanding cash and fled with the money to a red Chevrolet Cavalier. The male driver was found later that day and questioned. Swain was immediately identified after the robbery by credit union staff …
  • FORT WAYNE, Ind. (4/17/13)--Two men and a woman were arrested by Fort Wayne, Ind., police shortly after a robbery at Power One FCU Monday morning left one credit union employee with facial injuries (Journal Gazette April 16). Two men, one with a handgun, ambushed the employee as she arrived at work before 9 a.m.. One pushed her into the credit union and knocked her to the floor, injuring her face. He then approached another employee and collected an undisclosed amount of cash while the injured employee locked herself in a room and called 911. Police arrested Trey Jackson, 25, who allegedly had a handgun, after a short chase. They later arrested DeAngelo Copeland, 36, and Nicole Andrews, 35, in a car three miles south of the credit union. Andrews was allegedly the getaway driver, said police. All three suspects are from Fort Wayne and have been charged with bank robbery. The injured employee was treated at the hospital …

Survey: 50% Of High School Seniors Don't Know Student Loan Costs

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WASHINGTON (4/17/13)--Nearly half of high school seniors in the U.S. don't know how much money they will need for college, and even more don't understand basic student loan terms, according to the Credit Union National Association's first annual High School Student Borrowing Survey.

Most students (70%) are confident they will receive a high-paying job upon graduating, CUNA found.  That indicates they are willing to pay the cost of college tuition even if they don't understand how the borrowing will affect their financial futures. Of the 847 17- and 18-year-olds polled nationally, 83% did not know the rates and 77% didn't know the duration of their expected or existing college loans.

"These troubling findings suggest not just a lack of awareness of college cost or how debt works but also a lack of basic financial knowledge," said Paul Gentile, CUNA executive vice president, strategic communications and engagement. "The results suggest that some students could be challenged in managing basic expenses or using such payment tools as credit cards in a consistently responsible manner as they enter adulthood."

Even if students relied on parents to arrange financing, it's still important for students themselves to have a basic understanding of the level and type of college debt they are taking on, Gentile added.

The findings are of particular concern, he said, because 74% of aspiring college attendees say they will need a combination of federal and private loans, family money and jobs to support their tuition. About 20% reported that family will pay their tuition outright, 5.8% will use federal loans and grants alone, and 2.01%  will rely on private loans and grants.

Twenty-five percent expect to take out two or more student loans, while 13% expect one loan, and 60% couldn't estimate how many they would need.

Given the new reality of more loans at larger amounts for most borrowers, CUNA is lobbying the government to allow student loans of longer duration than the current 15-year standard.

"The 15-year standard student loan made sense in years past when the total debt taken out was much lower," Gentile said. "College is a lifetime investment. The value of a longer term is you can better structure the loan to allow for smaller payments in the early work years. That is typically when most borrowers struggle as their careers are just beginning. Once their careers pick up, they are better able to manage the debt, so a longer term helps marry up those two realities."

Of those who knew what they will owe after graduation, 15% said they will owe $10,000 or less; 22%, $11,000-$50,000; and 13%, more than $50,000.

Credit unions offer better  interest terms due to their mutual, member-owned business model.  Credit union private student loans also perform better than other student loans, with default rates at about 1.6%, compared with less than 6% for all private student loans and more than 12% for federal loans.

Give and Take Author Adam Grant ACUC's Fourth Keynoter

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MADISON, Wis. (4/17/13)--Adam Grant, an award-winning professor, researcher and author, has been announced as the fourth keynote speaker at the 2013 America's Credit Union Conference, June 30-July 3 at the Hilton New York in New York City.

"Grant has been all over the media lately, including The Today Show, The Washington Post, The New York Times and Fast Company, to discuss his revolutionary thinking about the positives of being a 'giver' in business," said Todd Spiczenski, vice president of the Credit Union National Association Center for Professional Development. "I have no doubt that his research results and positive message about how doing good can get you ahead will make a profound connection with credit union professionals."

Grant is the youngest-tenured and highest-rated professor at Wharton, where he teaches organizational psychology--the study of workplace dynamics. He was named one of the world's 40-best business professors under age 40 and has received the Excellence in Teaching Award for every class he has taught.

Grant has presented solutions for leaders of organizations including Google, the National Football League, IBM, Merck, the World Economic Forum, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder and the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force. He wrote a new book, Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, and was recently profiled in a New York Times Magazine cover story, "Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead?"

CUNA announced the other three ACUC keynoters earlier. They are:

  • Lyn Howard, director of creation for Cirque du Soleil, whose presentation and book, "The Spark: Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives Within Us All," draw on her experience as former president and chief operating officer of Cirque's creative content division, where she helped create Cirque masterworks. Her presentations help audiences explore the nature and origins of creativity.
  • Lt. Col. Robert Darling, retired White House military officer and author of a book about developments in the White House during the terrorist attacks on Sept, 1, 2001. Darling's book, 24 Hours Inside the President's Bunker, 9/11/01: The White House, chronicles a minute-by-minute account of that day's events. Darling now is president of the Military Officers Association of America Heritage Chapter in Quantico, Va., and vice president for business development for Zenetex, an information technology service-management company in Herndon, Va.
  • Malcolm Gladwell, staff writer for The New Yorker magazine and author of four New York Times best-selling books. They include The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Outliers: The Story of Success, and What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures. He often writes about applications of research and new ideas in the social sciences, making frequent use of academic work in sociology, psychology and social psychology.
For more information, use the link.

Getting Creative With Fin Lit Month Education

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MADISON, Wis. (4/17/13)--Credit unions and credit union organizations nationwide are using their imaginations to inspire members to adopt good financial habits as part of April's Financial Literacy Month.

This article is the second of a two-part series that provides examples of how credit unions are educating their members during Financial Literacy Month.

To assist with that outreach, the Credit Union National Association offers two national events designed to educate young members and their families on the benefits of financial literacy: National Credit Union Youth Week, April 21-27, and the National Youth Saving Challenge. The events teach the benefits of saving and goal setting and invite youth to open savings accounts at their credit union and make deposits throughout the year.

This year's theme, "Savings Sleuth: Solve the Mystery" employs mystery and mustaches to capture children's imagination.

The National Youth Saving Challenge, held throughout April, rewards 10 savers with $100 cash prizes.

"We have nearly 250 credit unions registered for the National Youth Saving Challenge, ready to welcome youth wanting to 'stache their cash," said Joanne Sepich, CUNA Youth Week and Saving Challenge Coordinator. "Even more credit unions are prepared to show youth fun ways to manage their money during Youth Week. Puzzles, contests, and plenty of mustaches are on order for the big week. It's a big win for us all when we help a child set a goal and save to achieve it."

Among the ways credit unions nationwide are celebrating:

  • Corning (N.Y.) CU is hosting or is involved in more than a dozen financial literacy presentations and events in April. Events hosted by the credit union include an accounting internship, a career panel at a local high school, a loan education seminar, student observation sessions, a financial planning seminar, and overviews of CUNA's Mad City Money.
  • Connexus CU, Wausau, Wis., is offering children 12 and under a chance to become Saving Sleuths by finding special savings-related clues at two of its branches. Each child who finds all five clues is entered to win the Super Savings Sleuth Grand Prize.
  • Tinker FCU, Oklahoma City, Okla., took the SaveAbles Kids Club to Science Museum Oklahoma for its annual spring break event. More than 2,000 children came to the SaveAbles Kids Club area, where they learned about saving money and created a savings container with stickers and markers.
  • Consumers CU, Waukegan, Ill., will host a free "Your Credit Score," workshop April 25. The seminar will cover how to improve a credit score, the negative impact of a low credit score and some of the factors used to calculate credit scores.
  • Throughout April, the 18 branches of Intouch CU, Plano, Texas, will display a piggy bank stuffed with cash that kids can enter to win either by turning in a five-question financial quiz or a completed coloring sheet featuring the credit union's mascot, Chip. ITCU will offer its employees a month of Friday "Jeans Days" as a fundraiser for the National Credit Union Foundation and Texas Credit Union Foundation.
  • The Texas Credit Union League will host a Financial Fitness Day, April 23, sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group. The day will include Olympic events such as javelin (pencil throwing), desk-chair racing, target shooting (with Sharpies) and tug of war.
  • The Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Greater Dallas has provided 56 financial education webinars to consumers in April, thanks to a grant from the Texas Credit Union Foundation.  An additional 44 webinars will be offered by the end of April.

Raising awareness about credit unions is one of the steps in CUNA's, leagues' and credit unions' Unite for Good campaign toward achieving the vision of Americans choosing credit unions as their best financial institution. As that awareness grows, members will turn to aSmarterChoice and Unite for Good websites to locate credit unions they can join and find out more.

Marathon's CU Participants, Volunteers Unhurt

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BOSTON (4/17/13)--Credit unions, thankful that none of their participants were injured in Monday's Boston Marathon terrorist attack, turned Tuesday to making decisions on future credit union events, setting up funds to assist victims and families, and expressing their shock at the turn of events.

The two explosions killed three people and injured more than 144 people at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in the worst attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

Nine credit union running teams participated, representing Credit Unions Kids at Heart, which teams runners with patient partners from Boston Children's Hospital, said Burlington, Mass.-based EasCorp. They ran with a fundraising goal of $100,000 for the 2013 Boston Marathon season.

"Following the tragedy at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, we want you to know that all of the Credit Unions Kids at Heart runners, their patient partners and families are safe and sound, and bound for home if they are not already there," said EasCorp on its website. "We are nonetheless sorrowed by this senseless turn of events, and our prayers are for those who were injured or killed."

Runners and their partners and sponsors included: 

Kerri Comolli, running for Seamus Slattery, 12, and  Igor Ivno, running for Matt Bridges, 9, both sponsored by Marlborough, Mass.-based Digital FCU; Austin Braithwait, running for Timmy Stevens, 20, and Sue Sonia, running for Cameron Murray, 4, both sponsored by EasCorp; Jay Johnson, running for Davis Randall, 10, sponsored by Callahan & Associates Inc.;

Kris Biagiotti, running for her daughter Kayla Biagiotti, 18, sponsored by Money One FCU, Largo, Md.; Ray Phillips, running for Andy Martin, 17, sponsored by Hanscom FCU, Hanscom AFB, Mass.; and Nicole Bedard, running for Everett Chase, 9, sponsored by Jeanne d'Arc CU, Lowell, Mass.; and Tim Burch, running for Kyle Reilly, 13, NASA FCU, Bowie, Md.

It was the first Boston Marathon race for Comolli, Johnson, Sonia, and Ivno.

The Massachusetts Credit Union League also expressed relief that credit union participants were safe. "The people of Massachusetts are still coming to grips with the horrendous events that took such a terrible toll on the peaceful crowd gathered to celebrate a great Boston tradition," said the league's website Tuesday. "This terrible attack saddens us tremendously, but it also strengthens our resolve to move forward and demonstrate our collective humanity.

"It is with relief that we learned that the many fine and generous people who were raising money for Children's Hospital as part of EasCorp's Credit Unions for Kids team, and those [who] were supporting them at the race, were unhurt," the league added. "Their kindness and the spirit of giving that they brought to the marathon exemplifies the values that are needed to triumph over the treachery and evil that violated our great Patriot's Day tradition."

The event is not deterring other credit union fundraising marathons and races.  In Smithfield, R.I., the Navigant CU Running Festival Half Marathon and 5K scheduled for May 5 will go on. Race Director Charles Breagy told (April 15), "This is America. No one is going to push us around." He expects runners to be ready to race and said he will work with every town and police group involved in the race route. "We'll take every precaution."

In Kalamazoo, Mich., Consumers CU noted its 4th Annual Consumers Sunburst Run will take place Saturday, with a moment of silence observed. A portion of the race's proceeds will be donated to the victims.

"Yesterday's terrible tragedy at the Boston Marathon shook the running community throughout the world," said the $430 million asset credit union. "What should have been a life-affirming celebratory event ended in confusion, sadness and anger."  It noted the many acts of kindness after the bombing. "Runners finished the race and continued running to area hospitals to donate blood.  Bostonians offered stranded runners and their families places to stay. Restaurants provided runners and locals with free food."

The Boston Firefighters CU is accepting donations to the Boston First Responder's Fund, formed by the Boston Fire Fighters Local 718, according to the credit union's website.  The fund, which will donate 100% of the proceeds to victims and their families, was announced Tuesday on CNN and the Associated Press.

Also announced was a $50,000 reward offered by the union and the Boston Police Patrolman's Association and the Boston Police Detectives Benevolent Society for information leading to arrests in the bombing.

Deadline Extended For Internships In Costa Rica

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MADISON, Wis. (4/17/13)--The deadline for applications for U.S. credit union professionals to apply for a two-week credit union internship in Costa Rica has been extended to April 30, said the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).

The internships are for June 9-22 and are through WOCCU's International Credit Union Leadership Program. WOCCU is looking for 12 candidates to participate in the scholarship program.

Those eligible to apply include staff or board members from credit unions, leagues, corporate credit unions, the Credit Union National Association, CUNA Mutual Group and credit union service organizations. World Council employees or board members are not eligible.

In the program, participants will learn how another country's credit unions reach underserved populations and support communities through member education and special projects, and learn about ways to better serve an increasingly diverse membership, including youth, businesses, low-income and Hispanic members.

Other criteria applicants must meet:

  • Demonstrate personal commitment and ability to significantly influence the credit union;
  • Show leadership and entrepreneurial skills and demonstrate how personal initiative has contributed to the credit union's development;
  • Exhibit the potential to advance the national or international credit union system through initiatives that would help development of applicant's community;
  • Be available to travel on the specific dates in the program;
  • Have a career trajectory within the credit union industry; and
  • Have intermediate Spanish-language skills (ideal but not necessary).
The program provides each participant with credit union placement, lodging with a host family, meals and communication stipends, local transportation and traveler's insurance. Sponsoring U.S. credit unions must cover airfare of roughly $950.  For details, use the link.

General Electric Asks CU To Remove GE From Name

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ERIE, Pa. (4/17/13)--Erie General Electric FCU in Erie, Pa., is removing "General Electric" from its name through a request from GE that resulted in a mutual agreement.

A group of GE employees formed the credit union in 1936 because they wanted to pool their savings and gain access to loans (The Associated Press April 16).

However, the credit union never was affiliated with GE. That is why the company--whose GE Transportation locomotive business is a large Erie-area employer--wants the name removed, reported The Erie Times-News (April 16).

The $256 million asset credit union has worked for the past 18 months to prepare for the name change that will be announced Friday at its annual meeting.

Credit union officials said the name change will help correct the misperception that only GE employees can join the credit union, according to AP.

The credit union plans to make the new name effective May 1.

CU House's 2013 Board Elected

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WASHINGTON (4/17/13)--The Credit Union House announced the results of its board elections, held in conjunction with the Credit Union National Association's Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Washington D.C.

Click to view larger image The Credit Union House board of directors are, from left, Scott Earl, president/CEO of the Mountain West Credit Union Association; Secretary Sylvia Lyon, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of New Mexico; Chairman Dick Ensweiler, president/CEO, Texas Credit Union League; President Bill Cheney, president/CEO, Credit Union National Association; and Treasurer Patrick La Pine, president/CEO, League of Southeastern Credit Unions. Not pictured is Vice Chairman Brett Thompson, president/CEO, Wisconsin Credit Union League. (Photo provided by the Credit Union House)
Sylvia Lyon, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of New Mexico and Scott Earl, president/CEO of the Mountain West Credit Union Association, were elected to fill two board vacancies.

Bill Cheney, president/CEO of the Credit Union National Association, continues to serve as president of the Credit Union House.

Board officers include:

  • Chairman--Dick Ensweiler, president/CEO, Texas Credit Union League;
  • Vice chairman--Brett Thompson, president/CEO, Wisconsin Credit Union League;
  • Treasurer--Patrick La Pine, president/CEO, League of Southeastern Credit Unions; and
  • Secretary--Lyon.
Charles Elliott, president/CEO of the Mississippi Credit Union Association, stepped down as board chair. Elliot completed his board term.

William Mellin, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of New York, also completed his term.

Credit Union House hosted 15 events attended by roughly 600 guests in the first quarter, largely in connection with CUNA's GAC.

Credit Union House is a townhouse in Washington, D.C., owned by every state credit union trade association and the American Association of Credit Union Leagues. It serves as a credit union coordination center on Capitol Hill and is considered a symbol of the strength and permanence of the credit union movement on the national scene.