Thanks to the ‘Foundation FOCUS’ statewide initiative from the Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF), Texans are working together to improve the financial well-being in their communities, from preschool to adulthood. The collaborative financial literacy initiative was expanded with the help of a National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) Financial Education Grant.
“Texas consistently has had one of the lowest average credit scores of any state in the country,” said Courtney Moran, TCUF Executive Director. “Texas credit unions as well as the Texas Credit Union Foundation see the need and are taking great strides in bringing financial awareness to credit union members and classrooms throughout the state.”
The Foundation FOCUS initiative includes training events such as “train-the-trainer” workshops for Texas credit union staff and a network of professionals in the state to teach and discuss financial literacy concepts to consumers of all ages. In the past year, TCUF set a goal of establishing FOCUS as the premier program promoting financial education in Texas by increasing the number of Foundation FOCUS network members and the number of financial education trainings throughout Texas. They also wanted to expand the reach of FOCUS to encompass adult financial education in addition to youth. TCUF has since completed all of their goals and continues to grow the FOCUS initiative.
TCUF’s financial education outreach includes the promotion and teaching of Sammy the Savings Rabbit, Money Mammals, and Thrive By Five™ for preschool to elementary ages, Biz Kid$ for middle school students, the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP) for high school students, and Debt in Focus and the Consumer Credit Counseling Services curricula for adults, with a focus on the underserved.
A group presents techniques and best practices for teaching financial education in schools at the 2012 Foundation FOCUS in-person meeting this past February in Dallas, Texas.
FOCUS Network – Sharing & Teaching Financial Education
As a centerpiece of the Foundation FOCUS initiative, the Foundation created the Foundation FOCUS Network. This network consists of credit union professionals, Texas AgriLife Extension agents, educators, state agency representatives, Junior Achievement volunteers and staff, community non-profit organizations, and others who have an interest in financial education. The role of a network member is to assist with the promotion and delivery of curricula ranging from preschool to retirement through internal and external marketing, by training other individuals, and/or through hands-on classroom or individual instruction.
Currently there are 447 members on the Foundation FOCUS Network, representing 47 cities, 3 states, and 2 countries, which is an increase in over a hundred members from the previous year. In addition to a new social networking site for the group, the members get together on regular conference calls and an annual in-person meeting to share ideas and best practices.
Over the past year, TCUF and the Foundation FOCUS Network have held 14 NEFE “Train the Trainer” workshops, attended by 325 attendees from approximately 51 credit unions, 53 schools and districts, and 59 community organizations. They’ve also partnered with the Arkansas Credit Union League to conduct a financial education workshop for their credit unions and teachers. To better help track their efforts, TCUF has created a financial education reporting form as well.
FOCUS – Expanding from Educating Youth to All Ages
FOCUS has its roots in TCUF’s “Project NEFE,” which began in January, 2007 in response to revised NEFE High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP) materials. Project NEFE was a statewide collaborative led by TCUF to bring the accredited HSFPP along, with comprehensive training, to schools across Texas free of charge, with a goal of establishing the program as the leading resource in all Texas classrooms.
With a staff of two, TCUF realized that the goal of Project NEFE would be next to impossible to achieve. With this realization came the creation of the Project NEFE Network, which later became the FOCUS Network. Over the years, TCUF saw the need to expand their reach and make an impact on the lives of all Texans, from preschoolers to adults. Thus Foundation FOCUS was started in 2011 and continues to grow.
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 (ncuf.coop):
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.
The 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.