Iowa Credit Union League Shines as 2015 Herb Wegner Memorial Award Winner

ICUL to be Recognized as Outstanding Organization by the Foundation

In recognition of its organization-wide dedication to ensuring the prosperity of credit unions and improving the financial lives of consumers, the National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation) is pleased to announce the Iowa Credit Union League (ICUL) as the recipient of the 2015 Herb Wegner Memorial Outstanding Organization Award.

ICUL's award will be one of four Herb Wegner Memorial Awards presented at a special dinner hosted by the Foundation at the Marriott Marquis Washington on March 9th, 2015, onsite at the Credit Union National Association’s 2015 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC). Registration for dinner tickets and sponsorships will be available within the next month on the Foundation's website.

“The Iowa Credit Union League has been fortunate to have a series of leaders over the years who’ve all been pioneers in helping build the credit union movement,” said John Gregoire, Chair of the Foundation's Wegner Awards Selection Committee and President of The ProCon Group. “The breadth and depth of the organization shine through the league’s focus on reaching the Hispanic population, savings initiatives, as well as a host of other programs. You always know if the Iowa Credit Union League straps on a challenge, they’ll go far and beyond.”

Cooperating to Reach the Under-banked Hispanic Population

In 2006, ICUL formed Coopera (which means “to cooperate” in Spanish) to meet the critical financial needs of the nation's largely unbanked Hispanic community. Now recognized as the industry's preeminent thought leader in Hispanic outreach and market solutions, this consulting company works with credit unions, leagues and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) to connect them with impactful opportunities for growing and serving their Hispanic membership.

As a result of Coopera's work, the median growth rate for the Hispanic segment has increased to 7.6 percent within credit unions it has served – nearly doubling the median growth rate (4.1 percent) of the non-Hispanic segment in those credit unions. Coopera has also cultivated substantial growth in checking penetration, loan penetration and services-per-member within the Hispanic member-base.

“Coopera has been a vital partner of ours and is seen as a thought leader in our movement,” stated Patsy Van Ouwerkerk, former CEO of Travis Credit Union. “The work that they and ICUL are doing is fulfilling a need in our industry and seizing an opportunity for credit unions to grow and achieve our social mission in innovative ways.”

Philanthropic Supporters of Financial Stability
The philanthropic arm of ICUL, the Iowa Credit Union Foundation (ICUF), has seen widespread success running the state's only active Individual Development Account (IDA) program – a matched savings program between credit unions and their low-income members. Funds raised by ICUF are matched with credit union members' personal savings achievements, enabling them to purchase assets that help promote financial stability and independence.

Through ICUF, ICUL has assisted more than 500 low-income individuals and families by providing more than $1 million in matching funds. Those funds have helped credit union members purchase first homes, start small businesses, invest in their educations and more. Today, the IDA program partners with 22 Iowa credit unions, covering 85 of the state’s 99 counties.

“ICUL was integral in the foundation of ICUF and its Individual Development Account Program and has been a critical partner in delivering the program to Iowa credit unions and their members,” said Lana Ross, Executive Director of the Iowa Community Action Association. “Thanks to ICUL’s strong support, Iowa credit unions have made a meaningful impact on the lives of families with a low income who are working toward financial sustainability and independence.”

Bringing the Credit Union Difference across the World
ICUL has a longstanding partnership with the World Council of Credit Unions (World Council) that allows them to participate in the growth of the credit union movement in developing countries. In fact, many of their staff and board members strive to live by World Council's ideals on a daily basis; ICUL’s CEO, Pat Jury is on the World Council Executive Committee, COO Murray Williams has been inducted into World Council’s International Executive Volunteer Corps, and more than 10 female executives within ICUL’s family of companies are members of World Council’s Global Women’s Leadership Network.

Through World Council's social mission, ICUL has directly counseled hundreds of credit union leaders in more than 10 countries by leading international education and training programs on topics as wide-ranging as advocacy, regulatory modernization, payment innovations, governance and collaboration best practices.

“The principle challenges that credit unions face around the world today are much more common than ever before,” noted Brian Branch, President/CEO of the World Council. “The Iowa Credit Union League has led U.S. credit unions in engaging with the World Council to interface with international credit union systems to learn from and exchange best practices in addressing these challenges.”

A Mobilizer of Iowa's Credit Union Members
In order to serve as a powerful, unified voice for the credit union movement, ICUL has taken on the task of directly engaging Iowa’s one million credit union members and mobilizing them to advocate on their own behalf. This comprehensive member engagement plan uses innovative social media and field team efforts to create a “grassroots army” of advocates who recently defeated an effort by the Iowa Bankers Association to cut banks’ franchise tax by 90 percent, without providing service equity for Iowa’s credit unions.

Over the past year, ICUL expanded its consumer advocacy database from 8,400 to more than 14,000 advocates. These credit union advocates were invited to ICUL’s “Take the Pledge” campaign, which aims to educate, organize and activate Iowa’s more than one million credit union members. ICUL also grew its Credit Union Political Action Committee (CUPAC) to a record $284,939 in 2013, which placed CUPAC as the number two political action committee in Iowa and was comprised solely of individual, non-corporate contributions.

“Iowa credit unions are improving the financial lives of more than one million Iowans, and the Iowa Credit Union League is a guiding force in helping achieve this important social mission,” stated Rep. Bruce Braley of the U.S. House of Representatives in his letter of support for ICUL's award nomination.