Foundation Grants at Work
The National Credit Union Foundation's grants empower consumers to achieve financial freedom through credit unions.
|Many stories featured here are part of our "Grants at Work” series highlighting NCUF grantees making a positive impact in their community and empowering consumers to achieve financial independence through credit unions. Your support makes these grants and our programs possible. Thank you.|
|Through its innovative “Kid’s Credit Union” program, Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union continues to reach more youth in the communities it serves, expanding over 200% in area schools last year. Southern Chautauqua FCU received a grant for the program from National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to cover the cost of materials. |
The Kid’s Credit Union project begins with providing financial education to second graders in Southern Chautauqua FCU’s community and follows these young individuals through to their graduation in high school. There are yearly goals for the individuals to meet with the end goal to graduate with a balance in their accounts of over $10,000.
|Thanks to Truliant Federal Credit Union’s Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning (REAL) Entrepreneurship Program, small business owners and entrepreneurs are receiving a comprehensive education on financial and business literacy in underserved and rural communities in North Carolina.|
Truliant FCU received a grant for the REAL Entrepreneurship program last year from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to cover the cost of instruction and materials for program classes. Truliant FCU used an innovative and experiential entrepreneurship training curriculum, developed by North Carolina REAL Enterprises, Inc., an organization whose mission is to develop entrepreneurial talent through action learning and to foster the creation of sustainable enterprises throughout North Carolina, with special emphasis on rural communities.
|Carter Federal Credit Union (CFCU) is increasing opportunities to access financial education and financial counseling services through its Collaborative Financial Education Pilot Program that combines education with entertainment for an innovative approach to financial education. CFCU has developed a member volunteer training program, partnered with a local studio to film a series of financial literacy video trailers to be shown before movie features in a local theatre and provided interactive workshops around Biz Kid$ financial education programming. Biz Kid$ is the Emmy Award winning and credit union funded public television series that teaches kids about money management and entrepreneurship.|
CFCU’s unique program was launched this year with a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to help increase CFCU’s capacity for delivering financial education programming and expand opportunities to access financial literacy training and financial counseling in low-wealth and underserved populations in Northwest Louisiana and South Arkansas. Two CFCU member businesses, Fairfield Studios and The Spring Theatre, LLC, have partnered with the credit union to develop and implement the project by contributing services, products and funding.
|Around 200 teens in Gallup, N.M. recently got a taste of money management by attending the unique “Crazy Cash City” money-spending simulation on October 9-11, 2012. The event was hosted by First Financial Credit Union in partnership with First Nations Development Institute for local high school students, the majority of whom are Native American. The exercise – which was a test of a new pilot program – was intended as an experiential learning opportunity for students taking a financial literacy class this semester.|
First Financial Credit Union received a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to help provide funding for the event and local businesses and organizations provided volunteers to help staff the simulation. The credit union, working with First Nations Development Institute, adapted Credit Union National Association’s Mad City Money curriculum to make it suitable for a Native American audience by making changes such as updating the profile cards to reflect tribal employment, having photos of Native American individuals, and adding unique tribal revenue such as tribal dividend payments. They also updated the curriculum to work with a simulated debit card purchasing system.
|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.”
|From CUNA News Now - Metro CU, Chelsea, Mass., is partnering with a local nonprofit organization to help low-income households establish a path to financial stability and mobility. Metro CU--which received a Financial Education Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation--is partnering with Chelsea Neighborhood Developers to develop and implement a new Family Economic Center.|
Chelsea, located north of Boston, with a population of about 40,000, has one of the largest concentrations of working poor in Massachusetts. About 59% of households are low-income. Metro CU offers financial services to center clients, provides materials and teachers for financial education classes, and volunteers its staff as financial coaches to provide technical assistance to local residents working to repair their credit, to own a home or build their assets.
|Self-Help Federal Credit Union is delivering “in-line” financial education to help lead low-income people on the path to economic opportunity and security. |
The credit union received a National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) Financial Education Grant this year to implement, analyze and refine their in-line education model, which is innovative delivery of "bite-size" financial management concepts at the teller line when consumers are focused on their financial decision-making. This new education model is being piloted in Self-Help FCU’s Micro Branch, a unique check casher credit union hybrid designed specifically to meet the needs of unbanked families
|After being piloted in 2010, the Credit Union Foundation of Maryland & DC expanded their “Millionaire’s Club” concept into four Maryland high schools last year with the help of a National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) Financial Education Grant. The Millionaire’s Club is a high school level after-school financial literacy initiative. |
An additional four more Millionaire’s Clubs are planned for four more high schools in 2012. Each Club is paired with a local credit union to help with mentoring, curriculum development and be the financial institution for the Club. Close ties between the Clubs and credit union partners also ensures that the credit union philosophy is properly and prominently applied.
|Acadia Federal Credit Union was presented with the Desjardins Youth Financial Literacy Award at the 2012 Maine Credit Union League Annual Convention. The Awards Committee chose Acadia FCU for this award based on their outstanding leadership in financial education as well as their commitment to raise awareness and marshal resources on behalf of youth in the state of Maine.|
Youth Financial Literacy has been a topic of concern around the country for many years. In response to this national crisis, Acadia Federal Credit Union (AFCU) partnered with the University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK) last year to form the AFCU – UMFK Financial Literacy Partnership. This collaboration has created a comprehensive program dedicated to educating youth about the importance of financial planning at key points throughout a youngster’s development. This partnership is supported by a Financial Education Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) that helps subsidize the implementation of activities, presentations and resource development for youth financial education.
|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.”
By developing a credit union branch inside a thrift store that is operated by people with disabilities, FinancialEdge Community Credit Union in Bay City, Mich. is hoping to better reach the low-income people who live in the Bay City area. FinancialEdge’s project is supported by grants from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) and the Michigan Credit Union Foundation.
Last July, FinancialEdge opened a branch inside the main facility of Do-All Inc., a Bay City company that helps people with disabilities and other barriers to employment. While this branch, known as “Do-$ave,” is just for Do-All trainees, for the second phase of the project, FinancialEdge is partnering with Do-All to open a branch inside one of its retail thrift stores that will be staffed by Do-All trainees. The new branch celebrated a special groundbreaking ceremony last week.
|With the help of Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (MCUCD), credit unions in the state have embarked on a new program that will give their members access to both certified financial counselors and financial coaches.|
With the help of a Financial Education Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) and a grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture, MCUCD has established a unique program offering Montana credit unions an affordable avenue to have one or more staff members become trained financial counselors and/or coaches. In the past seven months alone, professionals from 14 of Montana’s 57 credit unions completed training. And that’s just the start.
Knowing the consumer need for trustworthy financial guidance while tight credit union budgets often restrict the number of staff able to attend a live training school, the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) offered a unique guided self-study financial counseling training program last year that resulted in 72 new Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors from 33 Michigan credit unions. Since then, MCUL has reached an estimated 170 credit union staff and more than1,850 consumers.
With the help of a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation’s REAL Solutions program, MCUL extended their FiCEP efforts in 2011, with an additional 101 credit union staff from 26 credit unions enrolled. The guided self-study portion provides bi-weekly interactive webinars on each of the eight FiCEP modules and two live training and testing sessions over a six-month period resulting in participants earning their designation of Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor. A major component of the enhanced training is working with counselors to develop a strategic plan to be implemented at their credit unions to obtain maximum impact for the credit union and the community.
The National Credit Union Foundation’s board of directors recently approved 19 new grants for 2012, totaling $287,387. All of the grant projects have a financial education component. According to a Financial Literacy Survey of adults last year from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Inc., 34% of respondents, or nearly 77 million people, gave themselves a grade of C, D or F in personal finance skills. 78% agree that they would benefit from advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional, and nearly one-third (31%) strongly agree.
“The need for financial education is still critical in America,” said Tom Candell, National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) Deputy Executive Director, COO/CFO. “This is the 2nd year in a row that NCUF is focusing exclusively on financial education in our grants which will ultimately help more people achieve financial freedom.”
The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (Federation) has recently completed a new “Credit Union Foreclosure Intervention Toolkit” to help credit unions combat the foreclosure crisis in their communities. Among other activities, the Federation has also been holding “train-the-trainer” workshops about the toolkit to credit unions and state credit union leagues on the front lines of the foreclosure crisis.
Created with support from a National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) Financial Education Grant, the purpose of the Federation’s initiative is to increase credit unions capacity to empower home ownership through their “Credit Union Foreclosure Intervention Toolkit” and other resources such as workshops, collaborations with housing counseling intermediaries, and webinars.
The Texas Credit Union League has recently created two traveling Reality Fair sets for Texas credit unions to use and have already held six fairs in high schools across Texas since May. A Reality Fair is an interactive financial literacy tool for high school students that gives them the opportunity to participate in a hands-on event that guides them through the personal financial management process, including budgeting, saving and investing in a simulated real-world environment.
To help fund the initiative, the Texas Credit Union League (TCUL) received grants last year from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), the Texas Credit Union Foundation (TCUF), and the Friends of Consumer Freedom.
Several New Mexico families who belong to their local credit unions now have better awareness and knowledge of good financial habits after participating in the 11-month “Savings Challenge New Mexico” and one lucky family is now $10,000 richer. The Challenge goals were basic stepping stones that provided each family with the skills to achieve better financial well-being. The three goals were: reduce debt, build savings and improve their credit score.
The Savings Challenge was made possible by a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, which provided management, educational resources and financial support and five New Mexico credit unions participated.
The Wisconsin Credit Union League is making a difference across the state with the Investor Education in Your Workplace™ (or “IEiYW™”) program. IEiYW is a free, online financial and investment education program made possible thanks to a grant from the Investor Protection Trust.
The Wisconsin Credit Union League currently helped train 14 CFE Certified Financial Educators® (CFEd) who worked to enroll up to 3,600 employees across the state to participate in online investor education courses. With additional outreach efforts planned by the CFEds and other IEiYW project partners, they are on track to provide training to 4,000 people by the end of the year. To help fund the initiative, the Wisconsin Credit Union League received additional grant funding this year from the National Credit Union Foundation’s REAL Solutions program.
Thanks to New York University Federal Credit Union’s “Making Ends Meet” financial education program, low-wealth students of New York University are better equipped to reach life-changing goals. Since starting the program in the 2010-2011 school year, over 5,000 students have attended one of the credit union’s seminars. New York University FCU (NYUFCU) has also seen their delinquency and overdraft fees decrease as a result of the program.
NYUFCU received a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) last year to launch their “Making Ends Meet” initiative. The New York Credit Union Foundation also helped fund NYUFCU’s program. “Making Ends Meet” leverages targeted group financial education using National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) curriculum modified to change behavior related to account overdraft, late loan payments and one-on-one coaching strategically deployed to cease the behavior and move students into credit and asset building upon graduation.
The New Jersey Credit Union League and the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation are working to bring Financial Reality Fairs to high schools throughout New Jersey by leveraging existing credit union relationships with the schools. To help fund the initiative, the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation received a grant last year from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) and REAL Solutions program. A Reality Fair is an interactive financial literacy tool for high school students.
New Jersey credit unions provided Reality Fairs for six high schools throughout New Jersey and have reached approximately 825 students. The credit unions actually completed seven fairs - one high school was so impressed by their first Reality Fair, they wanted to do another one so that their entire freshman class attended the fair. Each school and set of teachers that the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation worked with explained that they now wanted to include the Reality Fair as part of their personal finance curriculum because it is a great way to incorporate what was being taught in class with hands-on experience.
|Low-wealth individuals and families in the Northeast side of Chicago have access to affordable car ownership thanks to North Side Community Federal Credit Union. North Side Community FCU received a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to expand their “Used Auto Loan Initiative,” a successful, sustainable auto loan program for low-wealth individuals historically untargeted by credit unions in the community.|
“The purchase of an affordable, quality used car has become more important as jobs become more decentralized,” said Lois Kitsch, NCUF National Program Director. “Programs like North Side Community FCU’s are essential to helping low-wealth families access the expanded job and housing opportunities that a car can help provide.”
|Thanks to a multi-phase approach to youth financial literacy, AmeriChoice Federal Credit Union is on track to reach over 10,000 school students this school year. AmeriChoice FCU in Mechanicsburg, Pa. received a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) in 2010 for this financial literacy youth outreach program.|
AmeriChoice FCU’s partnered with schools throughout South Central Pennsylvania to teach financial literacy through a unique three-phase process while bringing the credit union message, philosophy, and offerings to the community. The three phases involved classroom financial literacy presentations, student branch outreach including a new teen club account, and “concerts for financial literacy.”
“AmeriChoice FCU is making a big difference in many young people’s lives thanks to their outreach efforts,” said Christopher Morris, NCUF Director of Communications. “What’s also impressive is that they are reaching not only students, but school staff, parents, and community partners as well. Serving as a financial resource as well as a financial institution will enable AmeriChoice FCU to truly build relationships for life.”
|Leveraging grants dollars provided by the Texas Credit Union Foundation (Foundation), the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas (CCCS) will offer 100 free webinars throughout April in honor of Financial Literacy Month. Consumers who attend at least three webinars will have the chance to win one of three $100 gift cards. |
“Collaborating with CCCS is a natural fit, as our organizations have a like-minded mission of empowering people to improve their financial well being,” said Courtney Nickles, executive director of the Foundation. “The credit union movement has long championed the financial literacy cause, and we are thrilled to be able to support outreach initiatives aimed at lifting Texas families out of financial crisis and on the path toward financial freedom.”
Support of CCCS’ April webinars is just one element of the Foundation’s “Foundation FOCUS” Initiative. The Foundation FOCUS initiative would not be possible, without the support of the National Credit Union Foundation, which provided the Texas Foundation with a grant of $25,000. The Foundation is utilizing these funds to support programs and projects that focus on building a financially secure future for Texans.
Due to a combination of tailored financial management workshops and individual counseling sessions, Dakotaland FCU in Huron, S.D. is making a difference with their surrounding Karen population. Many of these new residents have limited ability to speak and understand English and now have a better knowledge of financial management and home ownership concepts. One Karen refugee is now on staff at the credit union and helps Dakotaland FCU better cater to the population.
In 2009, Dakotaland Federal Credit Union partnered with Lutheran Social Services of South Dakota to provide financial management classes targeted to the Karen refugee community, with translated materials and an interpreter. Dakotaland FCU expanded these workshops last year thanks to a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF).
“This is a great example of a credit union helping members of the community reach financial independence,” said Tom Candell, NCUF Deputy Executive Director, COO/CFO.
Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (MCUCD) recently reported a collective increase of small loans of over 26% in the fourth quarter of 2010 from credit unions they were tracking. MCUCD attributes the growth to a state-wide public awareness campaign it ran last year to educate the general public in Montana about the availability of small loans at credit unions. The campaign was made possible in large part by a National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) grant though the REAL Solutions program.
The growth in the 4th quarter of 2010 is part of a continuing trend. MCUCD reported that loans during the 4th quarter increased by 26.7% from the third quarter with a similar increase in the 3rd quarter (a 24.4% increase).
“Congratulations to Montana’s credit unions for these impressive results,” said Lois Kitsch, NCUF’s REAL Solutions National Program Director. “By offering consumers these small loans, you are helping more people avoid - or get out of - the payday loan debt trap.”
|Holy Rosary Credit Union is making headway in helping their local Hispanic community become financially literate, in large part thanks to “Your Finances Today,” their successful collaborative financial education program. “I didn’t understand much of what they were learning, but I did clearly understand the cheers and applause that greeted each of the twenty two Spanish-speaking individuals as they received their certificates of graduation upon completing a seven-course personal financial education program,” said Nancy Pierce, field coach for the REAL Solutions® program in Missouri. |
The course entitled “Your Finances Today: Building Your Brighter Financial Future” is just one part of an outreach initiative to bring financial services and skills to the largely unbanked Latino community in Kansas City. Through a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) to the Missouri Credit Union Association, Pierce is working with Holy Rosary Credit Union to develop community partnerships to better serve this market and to document efforts and results, as a case analysis.
|The Money & Me financial education workshop from the New York Credit Union Foundation (NYCUF) is helping teenagers across New York learn how to manage money. Initially piloted in 2009, a National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) Innovation Grant last year helped expand Money & Me to reach more high school students. NYCUF is looking to extend the Money & Me program’s reach further in 2011 with additional NCUF grant support.|
Money & Me is a financial education program designed by NYCUF just for teens. Credit unions across New York offer Money & Me workshops throughout the year—typically during summer, winter and spring breaks. Using an award-winning curriculum and interactive, hands-on activities, credit union staff teach teens essential financial skills—skills like budgeting, saving, maintaining a checking account, managing credit, planning for the future and more. Along the way, participating teens become financially savvy while having fun with their peers.
|The majority of young adults between the ages of 23 and 28 consider "making better choices about managing money" the single most important issue for individual Americans to act on today, according to a recent Charles Schwab survey. In St. Louis, Mo., St. Louis Community CU is doing something about it. The credit union is helping both youth and adults in their community become more financially literate thanks to outreach efforts in local schools and community partners. The credit union also offers products specifically for the unbanked and underbanked.|
Over the past few years, St. Louis Community CU has become a “go-to” resource for trustworthy financial literacy advice and knowledge thanks to their popular seminars around the St. Louis Metropolitan area. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the staff to expand their efforts. With an Innovation Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) this year, the credit union was able to hire a full-time financial literacy specialist to help meet the demand for financial education in their area.
|People’s Federal Credit Union’s community programs are assisting low-income families to more effectively build wealth for themselves, their families, and the community. People’s Federal Credit Union (People’s) is a division of Self-Help Federal Credit Union, located in Oakland, Calif.|
“People’s model of combining financial education with access to affordable entry-level and asset-building financial products is excellent,” said Lois Kitsch, NCUF’s REAL Solutions National Program Director. “Better yet, it can be replicated by other credit unions in the country. This is particularly relevant as tax season is right around the corner.”
With an Innovation Grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) this year, People’s was able to expand and manage their community programs.
|The “Right At Home” DVD and website from the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) & Affiliates recently received the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education (AFCPE)'s Outstanding Consumer Information Award. The video and website connects struggling homeowners with the resources to avoid foreclosure. It was produced by CU Village, a web design and multimedia subsidiary of MCUL & Affiliates (www.mcul.org), and made possible in part by funding from a National Credit Union Foundation Innovation Grant.|
“Congratulations to MCUL & Affiliates on this well-deserved award,” said Tom Candell, NCUF Deputy Director and COO/CFO. “The website is a great resource for credit unions to leverage and help families stay in their homes.”
|iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad users nationwide can quickly identify and contact credit unions, thanks to a first-of-its-kind application from the Credit Union Foundation of Maryland & DC. “Credit Union Finder” is a free application available for download at the Apple App Store.|
The Foundation developed the mobile application earlier this year with Innovation Grant assistance from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), graphics support from Visions, Ink., and data from credit unions nationwide.
“Every week more credit unions are establishing mobile banking capabilities,” said the Credit Union Foundation of Maryland & DC about the app. “Credit unions realize the value of mobile applications, especially to their younger members. The Foundation wanted to help members find and contact your credit union through a mobile app and to help non-members find a credit union they could join.”
80% of Americans drive to work. Reliable transportation determines where a family lives, where there children go to school and what jobs they can work. Freedom First Federal Credit Union in Roanoke, Va. found one in twelve households in their region was unable to reach their maximum potential because they lacked reliable transportation. Estimates say that families can increase their income by as much as 25% with access to reliable transportation.
Quandra Bonds is like many people who juggle a job, children and household responsibilities. Until recently, she did not have access to a car. This 29-year old primary care giver rode public transportation for errands and to work as a child care aide. “It was a struggle getting on the bus with groceries or with the laundry” Bonds said.
With a $25,000 innovation grant this year from the National Credit Union Foundation, Freedom First Federal Credit Union of Roanoke, VA partnered with Total Action Against Poverty, New River Community Action and Enterprise Car Sales to implement their Responsible Rides Auto Loan Program to help provide affordable and dependable transportation to low-income individuals.