Posts Tagged youth 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 to Select Twelve Students for Googolplex Youth Editorial Board

Posted by on Thursday, 5 January, 2012

MADISON, Wis. (January 5, 2012)—Representatives from CUNA will select students from across America to serve one-year terms as youth editorial board members for the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) toolkit called Googolplex: The Credit Union Guide for Student Moneymakers.

Requests for applications are currently being accepted through February 6, 2012, for all 12 positions. The new student board members’ terms will begin on June 1, 2012.

“Year after year, the insight we receive from these bright students is instrumental in designing financial literacy tools that resonate strongly with children and young adults,” says Rena Crispin, Googolplex managing editor. “At CUNA, we believe that it’s vital to start financial education at a young age.”

Googolplex is a youth-focused element of CUNA’s onlineEDGE program, which guides credit union members through financial decisions at every stage of life. Googolplex features interactive games, videos, blogs and other content dealing with money matters and real life issues to promote financial literacy for youth aged 6-18.

Youth editorial board members complete two brief online critiques each month of stories and games in age-specific sections of Googolplex’s award-winning three-in-one website. At the end of their terms, each of the 12 board members writes an original story forGoogolplex.

  • Four elementary school-aged students will serve on the Clubhouse Crew for 5-Spot.
  • Four middle school-aged students make up the Super Youth Team for AJ’s.
  • Four high-school-aged students will be on the Teenage Panel advising C-Note.

“Our youth board members provide us with feedback that ensures that their peers feel welcome and validated whenever they use Googolplex on their credit union’s website,” says Susan Tiffany, CCUFC, director of consumer periodicals.

Board members must be in grades 3-12 in the fall of 2012 or, if home-schooled, of the same grade-level ages, and will work from home. Applications are available by request from Corey Pratt, Googolplex youth editorial board liaison. Please state the child’s grade level or age equivalent if home-schooled. Requests are due by February 6, 2012.

To learn more about how Googolplex and other onlineEDGE tools benefit both credit unions and their members, visit and

“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.

Update from CUNA’s Community Credit Union & Growth Conference in San Francisco

Posted by on Wednesday, 26 October, 2011

CUNA’s Community Credit Union & Growth Conference is in full swing! You can follow along on Twitter using the hasthtag #CUGrowth or by following our CUNAverse Twitter feed.

The event, which is held in San Francisco this year, focuses on transforming innovative thought into solid action plans for credit union growth. Sessions run the gamut from gaining the loyalty of the Hispanic community and a discussion about the upcoming Bank Transfer Day to strategic board recruitment and an interactive youth financial literacy workshop using Mad City Money.

Credit Union Magazine posted an interesting article today highlighting activities and photos from yesterday’s sessions like the one below featuring our very own Meghann Dawson in action. Be sure to check out the full article on Credit Union Magazine’s website.

Behind desk from left: Marianne McCrary and Meghann Dawson welcome attendees to CUNA’s Community CU & Growth Conference in San Francisco Monday. The conference features a legislative and regulatory update, a Mad City Money simulation with local high schoolers, and workshops on developing a sales culture and building a younger cooperative. A new session on the agenda is a Wednesday roundtable on Bank Transfer Day, notes Dawson, CUNA’s manager of instructional design.

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.

People Helping (the Youngest) People

Posted by on Wednesday, 8 December, 2010

Felicity Guerin

From Felicity Guerin:

I’m quite sure I have no way of capturing the medal ceremony at the Children’s Miracle Network annual “Celebration” in words.   

The day is full of contradictions:  amazing miracles and tragic deaths; stories of life and of loss; newfound hope and continued frustration.  Maybe the most staggering contradiction of all is the people. Frail, disabled, ill children full of vitality, excitement and pride, stand next to the healthy, successful, accomplished businessmen, visibly shaken by the realness of personal vulnerability, a lack of control and the fragility of life.   

The medal ceremony recognizes each of the 167 “Champions” from each of the Canadian provinces and each of the United States individually.   In theory, the presenters read each child’s name aloud, and the Champion walks on stage to the applause of over 1,000 spectators, shakes hands with the presenters, receives their medal and smiles brightly for the cameras.   This happens about half of the time.  Some of the Champion children are so excited, they miss the presenters altogether and literally run to be adorned with their medal.  Some turn cartwheels; some have crutches; some have wheelchairs.  All are beaming.

Some of the children, like the young lady from Hawaii, follow the process exactly as instructed. My memory of Arrianna is of a graceful, excited and happy young lady, smiling brightly for the camera…even though she relapsed a few short weeks earlier, and her brain cancer is back.  MacKenzie  wasn’t there.  The little girl who was Maryland’s Champion passed away a month before the event.  Her mother received the medal in her daughter’s stead – to a standing ovation. I will venture to guess there was not a dry eye in the audience.  But the most challenging medal winner for me to watch was the Champion from Kansas, a dear little girl named America.  I have never seen a child be so happy and try so hard to smile – but be too weak and exhausted to do so.   

 Another poignant contradiction was the heartbroken families who are full of gratitude.  “We’re the luckiest family here,” Those are the words of Sam, the Champion Child from Texas.   “They tell us that everyone thinks they’re the luckiest…but we actually are.”   What an amazing outlook.   He does not  complain about being dragged around to doctor after doctor while they were trying to diagnose him after waking up one day and not being able to feel his leg.  He doesn’t whine about the pain he still feels or the treatments he’s had to ensure.  There is no self-pity, impatience, jealousy or anger present in Sam’s stories about the time he spent at the Children’s Hospital.  This boy is simply thankful for every way the nurses and doctors help him.  I was moved. 

I am moved. 

The medal ceremony may be the most emotional event I have ever – or will ever – experience.   It was certainly not the saddest, nor was it the happiest; it was definitely the most confusing.  There were times I wasn’t sure if I was crying tears of joy or tears of sadness.  But I was crying.  And so was every other adult in the room.

In fact, I am still full of mixed emotions from the trip, but I choose to focus on the positive ones.  I’m proud to be part of an industry which embraces the people helping people philosophy by wholeheartedly supporting these children.   I am thankful I get to spend my days helping the credit union movement become even more involved in this wonderful cause.   I am excited to help us invite our members to join us in Credit Unions for Kids endeavors.  I am eager to share my experience with fellow credit union believers. 

Felicity Guerin is the Credit Unions for Kids Liaison for the American Association of Credit Union Leagues.  For  more information about Credit Unions for Kids, Children’s Miracle Network and how you can get involved, please feel free to contact Felicity at 202.508.8758.

Looks Like a Boring Kind of Cheap Shirt

Posted by on Thursday, 4 November, 2010

Prior to starting at CUNA 7 years ago I had no clue what a credit union was.  My parents had always belonged to banks and when I was looking for a financial institution, ”bank” was the only brand I knew.  Even after my husband and I both had terribly negative experiences with our bank we stayed put because we didn’t realize there was a better choice.  I don’t remember ever being taught what a bank was, it’s just all that I ever knew. I wish that somebody had sold me on credit unions earlier on;  it would have saved me some terrible service experiences and lots of money spent on bank fees. 

Truth is, even after starting at CUNA, it took me some time to really get the fact that credit unions were such a great choice for consumers.  I still have plenty of friends that I haven’t been able to convince to leave their banks, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that like me a few years ago, banks are familiar to them, and thus perceived as the best choice.

I recently came across the following video which conveys the impact branding has at an early age.  This simple school project shows that at as early as grade school children begin equating the value of something with their knowledge of that something’s brand.   The older a person gets, the more this belief gets solidified regarding the brands they know and turn to. 

I think in some ways credit unions are like  the logo-less products in the video, many people don’t really understand what a credit union is so they see credit unions as a lesser option than a bank.   To overcome that, credit unions need to begin creating a loyalty to their brand at as early an age as possible.   Whether it’s through a partnership with local schools, a sponsorship of  certain youth events or strengthened relationships with current members to help ensure they are sharing their love of their credit union with their kids.  Credit unions need to be doing something to make sure children start seeing them as relevant, or years down the road they will have an even harder time trying to convince them that they are the best choice. 

In an article in Credit Union Magazine, CUNA executive vice president and chief operating officer, John Franklin shared that “it is estimated that today’s 90 mil­lion {credit union} members have 19 million children under 18 years old. Studies show the very best way to get loyal young members is through their parents’ memberships. Yet little progress is being made.”   

What are you and your credit union doing now to make sure today’s kids become future loyal members of your credit union?

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.

Live From The 1: Youthful Products for a Younger Membership

Posted by on Monday, 12 July, 2010

Viva Las Vegas! I’m excited to be blogging live from the 1 Credit Union Conference in Las Vegas with Courtney and Meghann over the next couple days. We’ll be posting some highlights and takeaways from key sessions right here on CUNAverse (Note, they’ll be a little looser than our usual posts). Also, for more live conference coverage, you can check out News Now’s updates, CU Grow, and of course a twitter search of the conference hashtag #the1cuconf for real-time information from conference-goers.

This morning I had the pleasure of introducing Brent Dixon, Young Adult Advisor at Filene Research Institute (USA), and Ross Lambrick, Regional Manager at Credit Union Australia (Australia), for a very relevant and important session – “Youthful Products for a Younger Membership.”

Ross kicked off the packed session with information on the demographic and the current Australian environment. For example, Gen Z, Y and X together make up 61% of the Australian population but only 20% are credit union members.

What I found most interesting were his examples of what both banks and credit unions are doing right in Australia. Highlights:

  • Bendigo Bank partnered with a college to mentor students which exposes them to issues and practices in the finance industry as career development.
  • Commonwealth Bank has a vision to have every child be financially literate – they offer and extensive school banking and financial literacy program.
  • Community First Credit Union has an online greeter, Lisa,  you can interact with on their website.

What do Gen X & Y want from their financial institution?

  • Convenience
  • Control
  • Problem resolution
  • Friendly, courteous and knowledgeable staff
  • Interested in the values of the brand they buy

Ross ended with his creed – “Change the life of a member for the better.”

Brent opened it up with the landscape – “credit unions need Gen Y.” Highlights: 

  • 47 is the average age of membership
  • From 1985-2005, Gen Y members declined

So what do you do? Cosmetics aren’t the answer and it’s not just about being “edgy.” You need an oustanding product to begin with – master the basics first.

Some successful product ideas he mentioned:

  • Give your product a customizable face
  • Debit card rewards
  • Prize-based savings
  • First credit cards (relationships last on average 15 years) are key. Hint: market to parents.

Think Twitter and social media is just about what people had for lunch? Wrong. Twitter can also be used for real change and political action in places like Iran.

It’s also changing our idea of “now” and we’re always “on.” He mentioned a statistic that 48% of people check online activity when waking up in the middle of the night. What can your credit union do? You need to listen and interact with members in real-time because it is becoming the expectation.

For your content to go viral (or to even be watched), you need to be original, creative, emotional, and awe-inspiring. Luckily, credit union stories are all of those things.

VIDEO: A Passion for Youth Financial Literacy

Posted by on Thursday, 3 June, 2010

Hard working credit union staff and enthusiastic people behind-the-scenes here at CUNA are what drive successful efforts such as the National Youth Savings Challenge.

This year, the National Youth Savings Challenge set records for both the number of youth savers and the number of new youth savings accounts.  Across the U.S. 168,438 young members (up 21.6% from 2009) deposited $24,811,741 with 10,385 new youth savings accounts opened (up 4.4% from 2009).

What motivates CUNA staff to go the extra mile for youth financial literacy? Watch this video…

You can see how personal experiences and a passion for youth financial literacy motivate those who lead CUNA’s youth financial literacy efforts. It’s more than a “job” to Lin, Rena, and Philip… their role at CUNA is something much deeper than that. To these folks, their job is about making a difference and helping credit unions help their members.

What personal experiences and enthusiasm drive you in your career? What youth financial literacy efforts from your credit union are you proud of?