NCUF Grantee Helping CUs Offer Financial Education to Low-Income Families

A Foundation Grant at Work

A Foundation Grant at Work

The Iowa Credit Union Foundation (ICUF) has been working to build capacity within Iowa credit unions to implement financial education programs via training, technical assistance and one-time grants for financial education start-ups or expansions. The initiative was made possible by a Financial Education Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF).

“Financial education is key to building the financial assets of low-income populations,” said Marybeth Foster, ICUF Executive Director. “Our goal is to strengthen the capacity and build leadership in credit unions to deploy financial education.”

Iowa Credit Union Foundation (ICUF) board members and credit union CEOs who received a 2011 financial education grant from ICUF. (From L-R): Paul Lensmeyer, CEO of Ascentra Credit Union; Pat Drennen, CEO of 1st Gateway Credit Union; Debbie Whittie, CEO of Village Credit Union; Becky DeVries, CEO of Midland Credit Union; Dale Owen, President of the Iowa Credit Union Foundation; Helen Pearce, Vice President of the Iowa Credit Union Foundation; and Marybeth Foster, Executive Director of the Iowa Credit Union Foundation.

43 credit unions received training and technical assistance in financial education over the past year as part of ICUL’s project. The technical assistance was delivered by Adam Carroll, President and CEO of National Financial Educators, with whom ICUF contracted with on this endeavor. Other highlights of ICUL’s financial education project included:

  • 11 webinars were developed to credit unions on a variety of financial education topics
  • 50 credit unions were provided with a Financial Education Toolkit, which included a binder of flyers, handouts, worksheets, and materials on all webinars produced by ICUF for use with credit union members and the general public
  • 16 credit unions received financial education grants from ICUF to fund financial education programs.

This financial education project is closely tied to the ICUF’s Credit Union Family Partnership Individual Development Account program (CUFPP), which empowers building assets for Individual Development Account (IDA) savers wanting to buy a first home, pursue education or a small business. The project’s focus is on financial education to families at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty level, who typically qualify for CHIP (or the federally-funded Children’s Health Insurance program). ICUF chose this target market because these families can be served by CUFPP under legislation passed in Iowa. These families have a household net worth of less than $10,000 at the time of application to the IDA program.

The new initiative germinated when ICUF started to work with Iowa credit unions that offered IDAs to their members as part of CUFPP. Financial education is a core component of the IDA program, as every saver must complete financial education to receive his or her matching funds. These credit unions and others did not have the capacity to offer financial education programs due to limited resources.

“Of all the initiatives undertaken by the Iowa Credit Union Foundation in the past four years, this initiative has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from credit unions,” added Foster. “It has also been the one initiative where ICUF has reached the most credit unions.”

A Foundation Grant at Work
NCUF grants are made possible by supporters of the Foundation and the Community Investment Fund (CIF), an award-winning system of investments that help credit unions earn dividends while donating to national and state community development programs.

This “Grant at Work” is part of a series highlighting NCUF grantees making a positive impact in their community and empowering consumers to achieve financial freedom through credit unions.

About the National Credit Union Foundation (
The National Credit Union Foundation is the US credit union movement’s primary national philanthropic program provider, fundraiser and grant-maker. Through NCUF grants and programs, credit unions provide widespread financial education, create greater access to affordable financial services, and empower more consumers to save, build assets, and own homes.

NCUF is funded primarily by investments in the award-winning Community Investment Fund (CIF) and by generous Supporters led by the Credit Union National Association and CUNA Mutual Group. All NCUF donors provide support that empowers NCUF and state credit union foundations to make financial freedom achievable through credit unions.

Description: Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity sealThe National Credit Union Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization. NCUF continues to earn the Better Business Bureau seal of approval as an “Accredited Charity” for meeting all 20 BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards for national charities.