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U.S. Treasury designates Mid Cities CU as CDFI

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COMPTON, Calif. (4/26/12)--Mid Cities CU in Compton, Calif., has been awarded Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) certification by the U.S Treasury. Certification allows the credit union to apply for grants from the federal CDFI Fund.

The CDFI Fund was created to promote economic revitalization and community development through investment in and assistance to CDFIs. The CDFI Fund was established by the Riegle Community Development and Regulatory Improvement Act of 1994, as a bipartisan initiative. Through monetary awards and the allocation of tax credits, the CDFI Fund helps promote access to capital and local economic growth in urban and rural low-income communities nationwide.

The credit union said it plans to put the new CDFI status "to good use helping the inner cities we serve," says Mid Cities President/CEO Melia Keller. "We couldn't have received our certification without the assistance of National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. As with most government application processes, CDFI certification is long and tedious.

"The federation was instrumental in hand holding us throughout the detailed application process," she added. "Their knowledgeable staff was able to assist us in quickly collecting the data we needed to support CDFI status and to address any questions or concerns we had throughout the process. I highly recommend the federation to any credit unions considering seeking CDFI status."

Mid Cities CU received assistance from the National Federation of Community Development Credit Union's in its CDFI certification application process.

"This certification recognizes the unique role Mid Cities CU plays in terms of promoting financial inclusion and expanding access to affordable financial services and education to low income consumers and distressed communities," said Pablo DeFilippi, director of membership at the federation. The CDFI certification is a recognition that "sets this credit union apart from many other financial institutions and we welcome them to the growing family of CDFI certified CUs the federation represents," he added.

CU Association of New York GAC kicks off

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ALBANY, N.Y. (4/26/12)--The Credit Union Association of New York's 2012 State Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) kicked off Wednesday, with nearly 100 credit union advocates gathering in downtown Albany for legislator meetings, peer discussions and updates.

Leaders from state-chartered credit unions gathered for a roundtable discussion Wednesday to exchange ideas and address topics most relevant to state-chartered credit unions. All attendees then heard compliance and legal updates from Michael Lanotte, the association's senior vice president and general counsel, and Michael Carter, the association's compliance director.

"I participate in State GAC because it is important to connect with our legislators, both at home and at their Albany offices, and ensure our credit union voice is heard," said Pamela Heald, president/CEO of Reliant Community FCU in Sodus. "I also value the opportunity to network with other credit union professionals and, at the same time, be educated and updated by the association on key legislative issues."

The association offered a Lobbying 101 workshop for new advocates or those looking for a refresher, followed by a legislative briefing to prepare all attendees for their legislator visits tomorrow. 

"I am looking forward to gaining more knowledge about what issues are facing the credit union movement, as well as having the opportunity to meet with legislators," said attendee Aimee Johnson, vice president of lending at Oswego (N.Y.) County FCU and member of the Association's Young Professionals Commission (YPC). Johnson is one of several young professionals to attend this year's conference.

"This is my first time attending State GAC, so I'm looking forward to seeing Albany at work and meeting with my local elected officials on Thursday," Corning (N.Y.) FCU employee and fellow YPC member Stephanie Carl noted. "I feel it's especially important for young professionals to participate in these advocacy efforts so that lawmakers at all levels can see our involvement and passion for the credit union movement."

The group will visit the offices of their New York state legislators, where they will build support for the state legilsative agenda and share stories of the credit union difference in New York.

Texas Trust CU donates 60K to schools via debit rewards program

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MANSFIELD, Texas (4.26/12)--Texas Trust CU in Mansfield has donated more than $60,000 to four area school districts since August as part of its Spirit Debit Reward program.

The schools earn 15 cents every time a Spirit Debit Reward card is used to make a purchase. Thus far, cardholder transactions have exceeded 405,000 (LoneStar Leaguer April 25).

The program was launched last year as a way to help area schools that are facing tight budgets. Participating schools receive a check at the end of each month, based on the number of transactions swiped from their school-specific Debit Reward Card. Schools get to choose how to use the money they earn.

Within the four school districts that have a Texas Trust Spirit Debit Reward card, there are 11 high schools and two administrations participating.

"The money we earned from the Spirit Debit Reward Card allowed us to provide student planners, which would have otherwise been cut," said Tammy Mariani, principal at Cedar Hill High School. "Texas Trust has given us an easy way to raise money without requiring students to sell candy bars or wrapping paper."

The Spirit Debit Reward Card is part of Texas Trust's Spirit in Action campaign, which supports schools in several ways: a financial education curriculum for high school students; financial literacy workshops for students, teachers, administrators and the community; volunteers for school-related activities; financial donations; and student scholarships.

Credit union members can earn rewards for designated schools when opening a checking account or taking out an auto loan, personal loan, or mortgage. In 2011, Texas Trust donated more than $150,000 to participating schools, including $20,000 in student scholarships.

Credit unions celebrate youth week financial literacy

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MADISON, Wis. (4/26/12)--This week is National Credit Union Youth Week, sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). Credit unions nationwide are focusing providing financial literacy education for young members.

Shamzy Romero, business development officer for Security Service FCU, San Antonio, and Richard Maki, vice principal of the Academy of Finance at Business Careers High School, congratulate Jasmine Ancira for her winning essay on financial literacy. Ancira won $500 and her name added to the academy's "Wall of Honor" through a program developed by SSFCU that encourages students to go through a financial reality check, then write about their plans to be financially stable adults. Ancira is a graduating senior who plans to pursue a career in the financial industry. (Photo provided by Security Service FCU)
National Credit Union Youth Week was created by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) in 2001 as an opportunity for credit unions nationwide to focus on the financial needs of young people and provide financial literacy education.  The event focuses on teaching the benefits of saving and goal setting and invites youth to open savings accounts at their credit union and make deposits throughout the year

This year's theme for National Credit Union Youth Week is "Be a Credit Union Super Saver."

National Youth Saving Challenge, also sponsored by CUNA, is also held during the entire month of April. Last year nearly 146,000 young members deposited $28.5 million into their saving accounts during National Youth Saving Week--with 9,058 new accounts.

National Credit Union Youth Week and the National Youth Saving Challenge take place during April, which is National Financial Literacy Month.

There are several ways credit unions are celebrating financial literacy and National Credit Union Youth Week:

FORUM CU, Fishers, Ind. will be celebrating National Credit Union Youth Week at all FORUM branch locations this week.  Events include kids' activities, giveaways, prizes, and three enter to win contests with prizes including an Amazon gift card, iPod Shuffle, and iPod Nano.  FORUM will deposit $5 into any Aware Kids, Aware Teens or Sprout Account that is opened.  FORUM will also deposit $10 into any free Student Checking Account that is opened, which is available for 16 to 24 year olds. Along with accounts for young people, FORUM also provides interactive financial sites as resources.  These sites feature games, activities, blogs, and useful links relating to money.

Maine credit unions' theme for youth this week is "Super Powers of Savings," reflecting the national theme.

Maine's credit unions will be holding events throughout the week including hosting open houses, contests and other activities for younger members. Many credit unions have also partnered with their local school systems to bring financial education to the students, from holding special financial education sessions to running one of Maine's five in-school branches. 

Jon Paradise, Maine Credit Union League governmental & public affairs manager, said  the week is an opportunity to highlight all that credit unions do for financial education in Maine. "The many activities and events offered by credit unions during this time provide the perfect opportunity for parents to engage their children in an active dialogue about personal finance because parental involvement is critical to helping children become fiscally responsible adults," Paradise said. 

Recent proclamations from the governor and the legislature have recognized the "significant leadership role of Maine's credit unions in furthering financial education learning among Maine's youth."  

As part of the youth week celebration, all 18 branches of Grow Financial CU, Tampa, Fla., will be distributing lollipops, activity books and piggy banks to the children of parents who open a new youth savings account or make a deposit to an existing youth savings account.

At Service CU, kids who make a deposit in their  Smart Savers accounts this week will enter the CUNA Savings Challenge. Service CU will also draw one name from the entries to win a $200 gift card. Free gifts are available to all young members visiting a branch. Service CU offers financial education specifically tailored to its three Smart Saver clubs. The three clubs all include a youth savings account and ATM card.

Six credit unions from The Erie Area Credit Union Partnership participated in the recent Annual Kids Expo in Erie, Pa. Hundreds of children attended event, which include music, games, clowns and prizes. At the credit union booth, children received glow-in-the-dark pencils, activity books, and a chance to have their photo taken as a Credit Union Super Saver Hero.

The six credit unions that participated in the Kids Expo included:

  • Erie (Pa.)Flagship Community FCU;
  • Erie (Pa.) Times FCU;
  • Lake Erie Community FCU, Girard, Pa;
  • Loco. & Cont. Empl. FCU, Erie;
  • Saint Vincent Erie (Pa.) FCU; and
  • North East (Pa.) Welch FCU.
The Erie Area Credit Union Partnership is a collaboration of 12 credit unions located in Erie and the surrounding area.

Youth Club members at Belco Community CU, Dauphin, Pa., will receive special prizes for all branch deposits, special prizes, contests and refreshments when they visit one of Belco's 12 local branches during April. With every deposit of $10 or more into their youth club account, they will be entered to win an Apple iPad2. By saving their money at Belco, children will be helping Belco meet its goals in the National Youth Week Savings Challenge. If the goals are met, Belco will donate $1,000 to the Ronald McDonald House in Hershey, Pa.

Wichita (Kan.) FCU is celebrating youth the entire month of April with promotional activities and contests in its lobbies and on its website and Facebook page. The credit union will match up to $12.50 for children that open up Kids or Teen accounts. Also, every time a teen between the ages of 13 and 18 makes a deposit of at least $10 into their savings account during the month, they will automatically be entered into a drawing. Wichita FCU is also holding a coloring contest for children 12 and under. Kids that bring in a "Credit Union Super Saver" colored page to a location during the month of April to receive a free piggy bank and a chance to win a $25 Toys "R" Us gift card.

ESL FCU, Rochester, N.Y., is holding a workshop on basic personal finance issues. The workshop will cover how to manage money day-to-day, investing and planning for retirement, and setting and reaching financial goals.

California Coast CU, San Diego, has developed a series of new consumer-focused workshops. The financial workshops also offer an opportunity to educate individuals about credit unions and the not-for-profit financial services they offer. California Coast CU works closely with area high schools and colleges in conducting financial literacy presentations. In addition to the financial workshops, the credit union also offers Financial Fitness, a free service designed to help members maximize their paycheck and create a spending plan that they can live with.

At Catholic Vantage Financial CU, Livonia, Mich., kids who make deposits during April will receive a prize and have the opportunity to enter coloring contest or do a puzzle.  During National Credit Union Youth Week at Catholic Vantage Financial, kids who make a deposit will be entered in a drawing to win a larger prize at the end of the week. The credit union is also offering financial literacy reading program. The readings engage students in discussion and allow them to discover new information on finances.

Hughes FCU, Tucson, Ariz., co-hosted the Arizona Financial Face Off, in which students from 14 local schools tested their knowledge of financial issues.

Security Service FCU, San Antonio, held a financial literacy essay contest. Contest winner Jasmine Ancira received $500 and her name was added to the academy's "Wall of Honor." The contest encouraged students to go through a financial reality check, then write about their plans to be financially stable adults.

Michigan First CU was featured on the National Public Radio station WDET 101.9 FM discussing the credit union's 27 student-run branches and extensive financial education programs.

Torrance (Calif.) Community CU offers Indie Money a program of financial services and education designed to teach financial responsibility and to help teens between the ages of 16 and 17 establish credit in a monitored, conscientious way with real-world credit and debit products. To ensure teens are armed with the knowledge and skills necessary to manage their new accounts, they must first pass the Indie Money Challenge and attend orientation with a TCCU staff member.

CUNA Mutual offers more Discovery Webinars

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MADISON, Wis.  (4/26/12)--CUNA Mutual Group's free Discovery Webinar series  continues in May with two risk management-related events.

Ann Davidson, CUNA Mutual senior consultant, risk management will present "Mobile Financial Services: The New Frontier," at 12:15 p.m. CDT, May 2. The presentation will discuss both the risks and rewards of offering bill payment, money transfer, remote deposit, and other services via mobile devices. Participants will learn how to maintain their competitive edge by offering this service while effectively managing its risks.

Brad Mundine, CUNA Mutual senior manager, risk management will present "Member Business Lending: Get the Volume Without the Noise," will at 12:15 p.m. CT on May 23. The session will focus on the current member business lending environment in the credit union space, providing a practical approach to implementation for risk management recommendations. He'll explore risk management techniques to align credit union lending program with their appetite for risk and examine additional member business lending income-related opportunities to consider as part of credit unions' strategic planning.

Both Discovery Webinars are free, 60-minute events that include live question-and-answer sessions.

To register, use the link.

CUNA Coopera offer Hispanic Webinar series

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DES MOINES, Iowa and MADISON, Wis. (4/26/12)--Coopera has partnered with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) to host a series of webinars for credit unions. The objective is to educate as many credit union leaders as possible on the importance of adapting products and services to meet the needs of Hispanic members. 

The webinar series has so far garnered attendees from more than 100 credit unions. More webinars are scheduled for the remainder of the year, with the next set to take place on May 16 from 1:30 to 2:30 (CT).

Each hour-long webinar will offer credit unions ideas and best practices for reaching --and best serving --Hispanic consumers in local communities nationwide.

"Savvy credit union executives realize the face of the American consumer is changing," said Coopera Vice President Miriam De Dios. "To grow a credit union's membership, leadership must adapt to their new consumers. It is the integration of a Hispanic growth strategy with the credit union's overall strategic future that will ultimately create sustainable success."

Upcoming webinar events include:

  • Financial Education for Hispanics--What's Important to Them?;

    May 16, 1:30-2:30 p.m. (CT)

    A strong financial education strategy for Hispanic members is a Hispanic outreach best practice in the industry. This webinar will provide insight into relevant topics and available resources and tools to create a successful financial education strategy for Hispanic members.

  • Are Hispanics Accessing Financial Information Online

    June 27, 1:30-2:30 p.m. (CT)

    This webinar offers recent statistics about Hispanics and technology. Learn about relevant ways to deliver this online content.

  • How to Deliver Financial Education to Hispanics

    July 18, 1:30-2:30 p.m. (CT)

    This webinar offers advice on connecting financial education with the needs of Hispanic members and how to provide staff the tools they need to teach Hispanic members.

In addition to the upcoming webinars, credit union staff may also view archived webinars for a limited time:

  • Stop Spinning Your Hispanic Outreach Wheels Series--The HON Demographic and Branch Analysis

    Available through May 23

  • Stop Spinning Your Hispanic Outreach Wheels Series--Changing Your Organizational Culture

    Available through June 14

  • How Hispanic Members Contribute to Your Bottom Line

    Available through Sept. 28

  • What's Different About Serving Hispanics?

    Available through Oct. 18

Lt. Gov. addresses Michigan league GAC

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LANSING, Mich. (4/26/12)--Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, addressing the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in Lansing, Mich., last week, talked about state tax structure, jobs, and credit union member business lending.

Mich. Lt. Gov. Brian Calley was the keynote speaker the Michigan Credit Union League Governmental Affairs Conference in Lansing, Mich. last week.
The 1990s were great for Michigan with lower unemployment and higher prosperity than the national averages, but those numbers were flipped for the 2000s, Calley said. (Michigan Monitor April 23).

Calley ran with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on a platform that they would reinvent Michigan to be more business friendly and to encourage existing companies to expand.

For the first time in 15 years, the state's tax policy is not designed to promote outside businesses coming in, meaning existing businesses actually pay more, Calley said.

"Everybody's for jobs," he added, "but if you want more of them, it's kind of important to understand where they come from."

One of the most important changes the administration made was to reform the state's business tax, which was considered the second worst in the United States, and replace it with one that is simple and now ranked seventh best, Calley said.

Michigan Credit Union League CEO David Adams said credit unions can offer more services by taking advantage of resources such as credit union service organizations. (Photos provided by Michigan Credit Union League)
He said that the state still has $638 million in tax breaks on the books, but slowly, that number will fall. Despite the tax breaks, the state ended up losing jobs in the relocation category anyway.

In addition, the Snyder administration has gone after needless regulations by forming the Office of Regulatory Reinvention. In just one year, Calley said, the state reduced the number of regulations by 400.

He added that the work is starting to show dividends. Last year, the state saw 80,000 new private sector jobs and per-capita income rose 5.2%.

Calley said that like credit unions, the state has focused on customer satisfaction. He also challenged credit unions to learn what their members dream of and find out what they can do to help.

MCUL CEO David Adams told the GAC audience that when he was recognized as U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as the 2012 National Financial Services Champion,  both in the state and nationally, it showed that the industry as a whole is really on an upward path.

"It's reflective of what our industry has been doing," Adams said. "People are discovering credit unions like never before."

He emphasized that credit unions have an unprecedented opportunity during this session of the U.S. Congress when the Senate is expected to vote on an historic credit union bill that would raise the limit on member business lending.

"Credit unions are being noticed for their efforts on small business lending," Adams said.

Adams said credit unions--even small institutions--can do a better job of marketing more services by taking advantage of resources such as credit union service organizations.

Because of their tax-exempt status, Adams said credit unions have an obligation to reach out to consumers to help the country reverse some troubling statistics, such as the one-third of U.S. adults who say they have no non-retirement savings and the 32% who say they are saving no part of their household income for retirement.