Posts Tagged financial literacy

CUNA Launches Youth Week Online Store with Early Bird Discount

Posted by on Wednesday, 18 January, 2012

MADISON, Wis. (January 17, 2012)—CUNA recently launched its National Credit Union Youth Week™ online store  and is providing early bird prices for credit unions. Youth Week will be celebrated April 22-28, 2012.

Through March 9, credit unions can save 10% on print materials to promote the “Be a Credit Union Super Saver™” theme and events, financial education materials to introduce money concepts to youth, fun items to reward young savers and apparel to dress the part in April. Discounts of up to 10% apply to standard items in inventory and bulk or customized orders.

“We’re excited to continue helping credit unions celebrate their young members and promote financial education,” says Joanne Sepich, CUNA’s Youth Week coordinator. “Youth Week is a great time to get youth into good saving habits that can last a lifetime.”

Credit unions can also choose to participate in the nationwide Saving Challenge, in which hundreds of credit unions track youth savings deposits during the month of April. CUNA will award $100 cash prizes to youth at 10 of the participating credit unions.

“Participating in the Saving Challenge is a great way for individual credit unions to raise awareness about the importance of financial responsibility and the benefits of credit union membership on a national scale,” adds Sepich. “Last year, participating credit unions reported more than 9000 new accounts and savings deposits of $28.5 million. This is a prime opportunity to increase member involvement.”

For Youth Week and throughout April, credit unions can outfit staff in Super Saver two-color imprint T-shirts in adult and youth sizes. Credit unions save on the upgraded tee and can both select the color and customize by adding the credit union name. Available in five colors, the shirt features the Credit Union Super Saver dollar sign logo highlighted by a yellow lightning bolt across its front.

“Although the price of cotton is about double what it was two years ago, we’ve found a great shirt with a two-color imprint for less than you’ll find a one-color imprint,” explains Sepich. “We know that credit unions are looking for value these days, and these shirts are just one of the many cost-effective and visually impactful ways to celebrate Youth Week.”

Also new for this year’s Youth Week, the online store builds upon the International Credit Union Day store design. Improved product categories support enhanced item browsing and easier site navigation.

For updates on Youth Week, credit union staff may sign up for a free e-newsletter and visit

CUNA Announces Winners of the 2011 Desjardins Awards for Financial Education

Posted by on Wednesday, 30 November, 2011

MADISON, Wis. (November 21, 2011) – CUNA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2011 Desjardins Awards for Youth and Adult Financial Education.  Entries from more than 30 states yielded 10 winners, along with several honorable mentions, in two categories.  All of these organizations will be recognized during a reception at CUNA’s 2012 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), March 18-22, 2012, in Washington, D.C. 

The Desjardins Awards are named for Alphonse Desjardins, the founder of the North American credit union movement, and honors credit unions for their commitment to youth and adult financial literacy.

“We congratulate this year’s winners and honorable mentions for their admirable work educating youth and adults about financial education skills,” says Vikki Kinsler, CUNA’s program coordinator for the Desjardins Awards.  “Credit unions, chapters and leagues from more than 30 states applied for the award, which shows the movement’s increasing commitment to this type of service for members.”

CUNA added the Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award in 2011 to its well-established Youth Award to recognize credit unions’ efforts to teach personal finance concepts and skills to members and non-members age 18 and older.  This change brings all personal finance education activities under the Desjardins name, including the award for leagues.  CUNA received 30 entries in the Adult category in addition to the 55 entries received for the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award.

“Part of the mission of credit unions is to promote thrift among our members,” says Bill Cheney, President and CEO of CUNA.  “Financial education is a key component of accomplishing this mission–it’s good for the members and differentiates credit unions from other financial institutions.”

Recipients were recently chosen from among the state-winning entries by CUNA’s national awards committee.

Winners for the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award include (asterisks indicate repeat winners):

  • A+ Federal Credit Union – Austin, TX*
  • Community Credit Union – Lewiston, ME
  • CORE Federal Credit Union – East Syracuse, NY
  • Credit Union Association of New York*
  • Service 1stFederal Credit Union – Danville, PA

Honorable mentions include:

  • Altra Federal Credit Union – Onalaska, WI*
  • Arapahoe Credit Union – Centennial, CO*
  • Beach Municipal Federal Credit Union – Virginia Beach, VA*
  • Greater Minnesota Credit Union – Mora, MN*
  • Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union – Knoxville, TN
  • Maine Credit Union League*
  • Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union – Columbia, SC*
  • Public Service Credit Union – Romulus, MI
  • Virginia Educators Credit Union – Newport News, VA*

Winners for the Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award include:

  • CommunityAmerica Credit Union – Kansas City, MO
  • Community Credit Union – Lewiston, ME
  • Financial Fitness Greater Austin Credit Union Facilitators – Austin, TX
  • Greater Minnesota Credit Union – Mora, MN*
  • Latino Community Credit Union – Durham, NC

Honorable mentions include:

  • Credit Union 1 – Anchorage, AK*
  • Denver Community Credit Union – Denver, CO*
  • Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union – Columbia, SC*
  • Patelco Credit Union – Pleasanton, CA
  • Tinker Federal Credit Union – Oklahoma City, OK*

In December, PDFs of the winning entries will be available for viewing on CUNA’s website. The actual winning entries will be on display at CUNA’s 2012 Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), March 18-22, 2012, in Washington, D.C. All winners and honorable mentions will be recognized during a March 21 reception at the conference.

“Be a Credit Union Super Saver™” Selected as 2012 Youth Week Theme

Posted by on Tuesday, 22 November, 2011

MADISON, Wis. (November 21, 2011) – Credit union staff and youth nationwide chose “Be a Credit Union Super Saver™” as the 2012 theme for National Credit Union Youth Week™, which will be celebrated April 22-28, 2012. 

The “Super Saver” theme draws upon the powers of superheroes that also apply to saving at a credit union, such as plotting a savings plan and acting it out, protecting and monitoring money and drawing upon resources at the credit union in order to be strong savers and smart spenders.

The theme ranked first in a nationwide poll of credit union staff, and youth backed it by placing it among their favorite themes, as well.  The superhero theme was suggested by both Jennifer Moser, member service representative at Union Pacific of Arkansas FCU (North Little Rock, Ark.), and Kelsey Balcaitis, community education specialist at A+ FCU (Austin, Texas).

“I thought of the superhero theme a few months before the suggestions were requested when one of our youth account members told me he was a superhero!  I have never met a kid who didn’t like superheroes, and this is something that will never go out of style.  In addition, it’s fun!” tells Moser of her theme submission.

“Youth Week is all about encouraging youth to save their money—so what better way than telling them they are superheroes for doing so?  The theme can work in so many different ways.  It not only encourages them to be Super Savers, but it can be a great opportunity for credit unions to demonstrate how they are superheroes in their own communities,” notes Balcaitis.

In keeping with the Super Saver theme, the 2012 Youth Week poster employs comic book-inspired design and bright primary colors.  The poster and related artwork will be available online at in January 2012. For updates on Youth Week, credit union staff may sign up for a free e-newsletter.

CUNA’s Plan It and MoneyMix Win Folio: Magazine’s Prestigious Eddie Awards

Posted by on Tuesday, 8 November, 2011

Madison, Wisconsin (November 8, 2011)– CUNA is pleased to announce that Plan It and MoneyMix, two of its onlineEDGE personal financial education products, won Folio: Magazine’s prestigious Eddie Award, honoring their excellence in editorial content. The awards were announced last week at the 2011 FOLIO: Show in New York City.

Plan it, a retirement planning tool, won the gold medal for Best Consumer Website for Non-Profit Associations. MoneyMix, a financial education and planning assistant for young adults, won the bronze medal for Best Online Column or Blog.

Plan It
Plan It, an online retirement planning tool, is being recognized at the 2011 Eddie Awards for its quality content. Plan It helps pre-retirees focus attention on their financial and personal goals by allowing them to keep track of retirement funds through interactive calculators, short courses, informative articles, FAQs, quick tips and other progress tracking tools.

“We’re honored to help credit union pre-retirees plan for retirement, and to be recognized for the quality of Plan It’s content,” says Rena Crispin, managing editor for Plan It. “We are happy to see financial publications getting to share the media spotlight with such prestigious company.”

MoneyMix’s spending blog particularly drew the attention of the Eddie Awards panel for its originality and accessibility. The spending blog, one of the many blogs featured on MoneyMix, is filled with useful spending advice written by young adults, for young adults.

“We are honored that MoneyMix has been recognized in the category of Best Online Column or Blog, one of the most competitive and inclusive categories at the Eddie Awards,” says Michelle Dosher, managing editor for MoneyMix. “To be mentioned alongside such publishing giants as Sports Illustrated and SELF Magazine is a special treat that not only speaks to the talent of our writers but to the importance of the financial advice we give young adults.”

Both Plan It and MoneyMix have won awards for editorial excellence before. As part of onlineEDGE, CUNA’s suite of member-focused financial education tools, both programs won the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education’s (AFCPE) Outstanding Consumer Financial Information Award in 2008.

Spanning across print and online magazine disciplines, the Eddie Awards are the largest magazine awards program in the United States that celebrates outstanding editorial achievement in magazine publishing. This year over 2,000 applications were submitted and only 400 winners were selected by panelists at Folio: Magazine.

Click here for more information about CUNA’s onlineEDGE products, including Plan It andMoneyMix.

Use Social Media to Engage Members, Get Them to Your Website

Posted by on Friday, 29 July, 2011

Michelle Dosher

From Michelle Dosher:

Traditional communication channels and marketing campaigns may no longer be enough to grab members’ attention. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—just a few of the social media tools available to your credit union—can help promote the online personal finance products your credit union offers. Posting a product link on your credit union’s home page is a great first step in driving member traffic back to your website. Using social media tools is a great next step in engaging members with your products.

Posting pulls in members

Hughes FCU in Tucson, Ariz., drives traffic to its website by posting article and blog links from onlineEDGE publications—Home & Family Finance Resource Center®, MoneyMix™, Googolplex®, Plan It™, Anytime Adviser®, and El Poder es Tuyo™—on its Facebook page (search “Hughes Credit Union”). These posts link directly to the articles within the onlineEDGE publication featured.

Hughes FCU draws members from Facebook to MoneyMix on its website.

“We post links to onlineEDGE articles on Facebook because it helps us with our lifestyle marketing,” says Kathy Hippensteel, marketing manager at Hughes FCU. “We use Facebook because it allows us to have interactive communication with our members.” The credit union receives quite a few comments and “likes” about the posted articles. Since Hippensteel’s social media coordinator posts articles from different CUNA consumer publications, there is information posted for each target market. “The best thing about the products and about posting information about the products on Facebook is that it ties in with our goal of making a positive difference in members’ financial lives,” Hippensteel says.

Educators CU promotes a Youth Week activity.

The credit union also posts links to onlineEDGE information on Twitter, such as posting a link to remind members that they can win Visa gift cards by participating in the Resource Center’s Financial Fitness Challenge.

Getting started in social media

When using social media, credit unions should do the following, according to CUNA’s 2011-2012 Credit Union Environmental Scan:

  • Allocate proper time and resources
  • Have a social media strategy
  • Define goals and objectives
  • Set proper expectations
  • Set a realistic budget

Hippensteel concludes that, if possible, it’s important for credit unions to have someone on staff dedicated to working on social media marketing. “Social media is another way to keep members informed about what your credit union is offering,” she points out.

Michelle Dosher is a managing editor in CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance. This article originally appeared in CUNA’s Connection newsletter.

Credit Unions and International Women’s Day

Posted by on Tuesday, 8 March, 2011

Did you know today is International Women’s Day (IWD)?  March 8th, 2011 is also IWD’s 100th anniversary.

So, what is it? IWD is a day to raise awareness for women’s issues and celebrate the impact of women today, and throughout history. IWD is recognized as a national holiday in countries like China and Bulgaria and even Google is commemorating the day.

The first official IWD was in 1911. Rallies were organized across the world to raise awareness for women’s rights to work, hold public office, and vote while speaking out against discrimination.

Google commemorates International Women's Day with new Google logo

Today, describes that modern IWD events range from business conferences and government activities to local women’s craft markets and theatric performances. These events continue to focus on women’s emancipation and equality issues while recognizing women’s various economic, social, and civic achievements throughout history.

There is an excellent article from the Harvard Business Review blog The Conversation which explains—and champions—the role of women as important players in helping to alleviate poverty across the world.

The article is a must-read, focusing on how, “Leveraging the power of women as the gateway to household stability became a fundamental premise of the microfinance business model….” You can read it here.

On this, the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day the article lends a unique perspective on the important role women play in personal finance and is relevant to credit unions here in the U.S., the microfinance efforts of the World Council of Credit Unions, and the empowerment of women everywhere.

The credit union movement is the beneficiary of incredible contributions from women past and present. Women such as Dora Maxwell and Louise Herring advanced the credit union cause and left behind an indelible mark on the movement. Their work is to be celebrated and always remembered especially on a day such as this.

In that spirit, let us celebrate the impact of women on todays credit union front lines–from tellers to volunteers. Credit unions would surely not see the level of success they do today without their tireless contributions.

Indeed, the women who are credit union members are to be celebrated as well. In the United States and abroad women can be considered the backbone of personal finance for the family unit as the Harvard Business Review post implies. In many cases not only do they manage the family finances, women must make the necessary sacrifices to maintain household financial stability.

Therefore reaching women with personal finance education is important. Here in the states CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance developed the Women & Money Seminar-in-a-Box series to help credit unions address specific issues important to their female members.

So let’s celebrate the women in the credit union movement–and in our personal lives–for the contributions they’ve made and the battles they continue to face on this, the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.

Do you have a co-worker, volunteer, or credit union member who you’d like to recognize during International Women’s Day? If so, leave a comment! We’d love to hear your stories.

We Do Big Things: A Resource for Credit Union Planning Sessions

Posted by on Friday, 4 March, 2011

I can’t begin to tell you how great it makes me feel to work for CUNA.

Why?  One reason is because my department—CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance (CPF)—produces personal finance materials that credit unions trust to educate their members about important money matters.

And financial education is important to the credit union movement. Financial literacy efforts are part of the fabric which separates credit unions from other financial institutions. In fact, even American Bankers Association Senior Economist Keith Leggett gave a nod to credit union financial education efforts a few years ago.

So it does my heart some good to be a cog in the mighty credit union wheel.

Now, producing personal finance materials that credit unions can trust doesn’t happen overnight. Each year CPF holds several planning sessions to anticipate the needs of credit unions and the consumer-members they serve.

It’s been said, you can’t truly know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. So, at the end of the year CPF produces a year in review identifying our contributions to the credit union movement. It’s a wonderful tool that helps the department recognize what worked well and spark ideas to plan and research for the coming year.

Let me peel back the CUNAverse curtain and share the 2010 Center for Personal Finance Year in Review with you… see below. Perhaps your credit union or credit union organization can use this as an example for crafting something similar.

What does your organization do to help with planning for the upcoming year?

CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance Year in Review – 2010


  • CPF contributed to CUNA’s ongoing PR and outreach effortsHome & Family Finance Radio

Each week CUNA’s voice of authority in financial literacy reaches a wide national audience through Home &Family Finance Radio, a joint project under the direction of Washington D.C. staff …. The project entered a new phase with the development of a Home & Family Finance Radio player for credit union websites.

  • CPF staff expertise received outside recognition

Staff currently represent CUNA and the credit union movement on the boards Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation of the and the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. In 2010, the following online and print publications tapped CPF for interviews and quotes:,, Parents Magazine, Daily Herald (an online suburban Chicago news outlet), Crain’s Detroit Business, and Parenting Magazine.  Also in 2010, NCUF-funded, CUNA-sponsored, and CPF-guided preschool financial literacy
research conducted in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison
was cited at an international child finance conference in Amsterdam.

  • CPF products, programs put the spotlight on credit unions

This year’s annual National Youth Saving Challenge resulted in 176,750 youth at 352 participating credit unionsputting $25,627,753 in existing and 10,631 new youth accounts. Participation in the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award recognition program brought a record number of entries (56) from a record number of states (29). The Louisiana, California, and Illinois leagues hosted events showcasing CPF’s live group budgeting simulation Mad City Money, which also saw widespread use during Wisconsin’s MoneySmart Week, including all four of Madison’s high schools.

  • CPF partnership initiatives reached new markets

CUNA’s relationship with Coopera Consulting was strengthened by a number of
CPF joint projects, including editorial oversight of the Spanish language website El Poder Es Tuyo and the production of a basic money management seminar and four instructional videos in Spanish. CPF also brought Cabot Creamery Cooperative into a partnership with the New York Credit Union League that led to the licensing of content for a youth activity booklet about maintaining health and wealth. A new partnership with the Direct Selling Association and the Direct Selling Education Foundation resulted in a deal to license an online money management course.

Service to credit unions and members

  • New CPF products addressed new challenges and opportunities

The launch of the Money Mission, a joint collaboration between CUNA
and the Wisconsin Credit Union league gave CPF entry into the world of online educational gaming. With the launch of El Poder Es Tuyo, CPF expanded its support of CUNA’s Hispanic Initiative while garnering an award from the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators for quality of text and design, effectiveness of message, accuracy and usefulness of information,
creativity, value to the community, needed changes and program results.

  • CPF improvements kept existing products fresh and relevant

A redesign of CPF’s online editorial service Copy & Art Express improved the 12-year-old product’s ability to deliver articles, ads, and images, allowing subscribers to beef up their newsletters and web sites and, in one case, produce a 16-page informational booklet. All told, the department’s suite of onlineEDGE products combined generated an estimated 45 million page views from 850,000 visitors to the websites of 1,223 subscribing credit unions during 2010.

  • CPF responded to consumer news and changes in federal regulation

A spate of news stories about investment and other schemes targeting seniors prompted the production of a series of articles and brochures alerting credit union members to the threat and how to protect against it. Guides to Independence added two new credit card courses that reflect consumer changes wrought by the Credit CARD Act of 2009.


CUNA Intern Published in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine

Posted by on Wednesday, 29 December, 2010

We have very talented and dedicated staff working for America’s credit unions here at CUNA. Our interns are no exception.

In fact, one of our Editorial Interns, Casey Mysliwy, was published in the December 2010 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. Casey helps produce material for CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance web publications such as Home and Family Finance Resource Center and MoneyMix: Launch Your Life.

We know how talented she is, and we are very excited that a respected and established personal finance periodical such as Kiplinger’s recognizes her talents as well. Casey’s success is a testament of her talents and reflects the expertise of CUNA staff.

Watch this video to learn more about Casey’s article, and take a moment to read the article online.

Is Your Credit Union Offering Financial Vitamins…or Aspirin?

Posted by on Friday, 12 November, 2010

From Christopher Morris:

Warning: This post has more metaphors than a middle school poetry contest.

Are your credit union’s product offerings just another “great” financial rate or product in a sea of many? Or are you stopping your member’s financial pain?

In the latest Fast Company magazine, Chip and Dean Heath (authors of the must-reads Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard and Made to Stick) talk eloquently about the difference between “vitamin-quality” and “aspirin-quality” products and services.  In the piece, they note that “vitamins are nice; they’re healthy. But aspirin cures your pain; it’s not a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have.” Consider the difference between a book on pregnancy for husbands (useful information, but a vitamin) and the mega best-selling book on pregnancy for women, What to Expect When You’re Expecting (definitely an aspirin).

Credit unions across the country offer a mix of financial vitamins and aspirin. In my new role at the National Credit Union Foundation, I’ve been in awe of credit unions participating in the Foundation’s REAL Solutions program. Some examples of these REAL Solutions’ aspirin-quality products or services (with links for more information):

“I was about to lose everything– totally everything. A lot of institutions turned me away. I feel like my credit union rescued me.”

-  Ora Houston, member of Wright-Patt Credit Union in Ohio

Now that’s aspirin. Credit unions like Wright-Patt are meeting the financial needs of their members in a mutually beneficial way. Are you?

Most likely, you are. But maybe you could do a better job of letting your members know that they need your “financial aspirin.” If you look at most credit union advertisements, you’ll see lots of “come check out our great rate” or “free” this or that. Financial vitamins – useful, but you need stronger medicine to survive.

For example, are you offering financial education? Market it like aspirin – most people think they know a lot about personal finance (even though they don’t). Help them realize they need to know it. Will your product save a significant amount of money compared to competitors? Tell them. How will the product ease their financial pain?

“You’ve heard the old saying ‘If you invent a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.’ Don’t bet on it. The world’s felt need isn’t for a better mousetrap. It’s for a dead mouse.”

-  Chip and Dan Heath

At a conference I was at a few weeks ago, someone said, “Don’t try to outbank the banks.”

So be a credit union. A good one. Offer financial aspirin and spread that message.

Credit unions were founded for this very purpose.

Christopher Morris is the Director of Communications for the National Credit Union Foundation.  He used to work at the CUNA Councils and was on the original CUNAverse team. You can read his previous CUNAVerse posts here.

What I’ve Learned as an Intern at CUNA

Posted by on Monday, 26 July, 2010

Kate Neuens

From Kate Neuens:

When I walked in for my first interview for an editorial internship at CUNA I was asked what I knew about credit unions.

I sat, completely unsure of what to say. I managed to offer, “Well, I belong to a credit union.” I had no idea that credit unions are not-for-profit, cooperatives, and have a D.C. location where they work hard to protect credit union members. I also didn’t realize I had not answered the question that well (it was my first professional interview, so cut me some slack!).

I did not receive the internship at CUNA, but then I received a call a few months later that another internship was open and that I was welcome to interview. Alas, I did not receive that internship as well. I had lost all hope of working at CUNA when I got a call on my first day back to class during my junior year at UW-Madison. I was offered an internship in the Center for Personal Finance working with Googolplex and I’ve been here ever since!

When I started this internship I figured I would just read and edit stories, do my job well, but not become engrossed in the CUNA and credit union system. Well, that didn’t happen. It’s impossible to work here and not get caught up in our mission! I love that credit unions are not profit driven and are run by local communities, focusing on helping consumers. Sometimes it feels like everything is run by “too big to fail” corporations,, but all you have to do is look down Main Street in any town and know that’s not true when you see the credit union. Members aren’t nickel-and-dimed, and credit unions want to help them achieve the best financial success they can. I opened my first account at a credit union, and joined a credit union when I moved to Madison, but I had no idea about the whole amazing system behind the organizations.

Once I learned all that credit unions do to help their members, I found a new appreciation for the work I do here. I think Googolplex is a really important part of our mission here at CUNA and for credit unions. One of our main priorities is protecting consumers, and that means preparing everyone, especially kids and teenagers, for tough decisions about money. We teach youth about the importance of credit, protecting their identity, setting goals for their savings, and how a credit union is the opportune place to get help for anything financial. I’ve always been relatively smart about finding a balance between saving and spending, but I know plenty of people my age who don’t have a clue. I get some pleasure from knowing we may be stopping some kids from making big mistakes with their cash or credit.

So, I came into CUNA knowing nothing, and I mean nothing, about credit unions, and now I know a little something about these fantastic organizations. I’ve learned a lot working here, and I’ve also been taught a slew of valuable lessons and skills, like proper copy-editing, team work in the office, and a whole different type of writing style. I see credit unions as always being a part of my future, because there’s no way I’m moving my account to a bank after all I have learned here!

Kate Neuens is an editorial intern in the Center for Personal Finance. She is set to graduate from UW-Madison in May ’11 with a degree in Communication Arts and English.