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In 1844, a small group of weavers from Rochdale, England created the blueprint for how their newly-formed cooperative would operate and serve the local community. These values, known as the Seven Cooperative Principles, serve as the operating guidebook for credit unions and cooperatives throughout the world. This blog was created to honor that legacy and to showcase the everyday efforts of credit unions in the Carolinas that embody the cooperative mission and purpose.


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Guest post: the Center for Smart Financial Choices recaps eventful 2014

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Principle Five: Education, training, and information. Credit unions provide financial education to their members as well as the communities they serve. 

(Editor's note: Betty Ann Falkner, the director of the Center for Smart Financial Choices, recapped the Center's eventful 2014 in an email to members and supporters this week. The following highlights from Falkner's email are provided below.)

The goal of the Center for Smart Financial Choices for 2014 was to raise awareness of their programs and services to Forsyth County residents. We would like to share the progress that was made this year and the impact it had on participants.

Youth programs

The Center delivered thirty-four presentations to over 1,121 youth in local elementary, high school and summer programs in 2014. The most popular program, Adult for A Day (AFAD), helps high school students explore the importance of making smart financial choices in managing a budget while learning how credit scores affect their expenses.

Over one hundred Vienna Dozier Elementary fifth grade students participated in the elementary version of AFAD to learn how a budget works. “The Center for Smart Financial Choices program taught me a lot about the money saving decisions that our parents and other adults have to make every day," said Cameron, an AFAD student who is a fifth-grader at Vienna Dozier.

"It also showed me that a lot of the decisions that have to be made are not easy. I learned that what type of insurance, the cost of utilities, clothes, and your home is very important. I also learned about all the responsibilities that adults have to have to be successful. This program will help me become a better adult and be more aware of my responsibilities," Cameron concluded.

The Center also educated young people through several field trips, which gave students a closer look at the banking system and how it works. “The time that I spent at the CFSFC field trip was very informative and fun," said Omiah. "I learned things that I didn't know before like how much technology has involved and helped the banking system, how many people it takes to run one bank, how much security cautions a bank has to take, and also how easy it is to set up an account. After the trip I talked to my mother about what I had learned and we had planned out my banking options for me in the future. Overall I think the trip and opportunity was both extremely fun and educational.” 

Financial education scholarships

The Center received a donation for a unique scholarship program that incorporates financial education as part of the criteria for the award. A total of $5,500 was awarded to the following recipients:

  • Bibiana Arroyo, student at Early College of Davie County, received the $2,500 scholarship for  Hispanic/Latino youth.
  • Sarah Williams, a Forsyth County resident, was awarded the $1,500 scholarship for any adult looking to further their education.
  • Josephine Hill, a Reynolds High School senior, won a $1,500 youth scholarship.

Adult programs and presentations

The Center worked with many non-profits groups this year, including Goodwill, Circles of Winston Salem, Relatives as Professional Parents (RAPP), Sunnyside Ministries and the Enterprise Center. Forty-four workshops were held with over 520 individuals reached.

Included in this is the Journey Program through the Center's partnership with Goodwill. In 2014, twelve Goodwill employees graduated from a 15 week program that includes financial education and individual financial consulting.

The Center also completed a series of workshops titled Only Way to Go at the Prosperity Center North, which served over eighty individuals. The program successfully combined work readiness, financial education, empowerment and motivation skills for the participants.

“This course showed me there were lots of places I needed to improve," shared Nancy, who completed the program. "I thought I had it together until I found out how many spending leaks I had. I found I was wasting money eating out even though I love to cook. At the time I took the Only Way to Go program, I was homeless, a situation I had never been in before. I found a job during the time I was taking the course, as a Certified Nursing Assistant and I am still employed seven months later. I also recently moved into my own new apartment."


The Center depends on its volunteers to assist in delivering its programs. Volunteers logged over 1,500 hours supporting the Center in 2014. Currently, the Center has over forty volunteers and more are needed to work with school children and teens during the day.

Betty Ann was involved in the creation of the Center for Smart Financial Choices in 2011. Betty Ann volunteered to serve as Interim Director while working full-time as an Executive Assistant to the CEO of a Winston Salem, NC credit union. Betty Ann is passionate about helping people by providing financial education, giving them choices and assisting them to change their behaviors.

Betty Ann’s previous business experience includes working as a consultant to a variety of non-profit boards and running her own small business. This non-profit background enabled her to qualify to manage the Center and help accomplish its mission ‘to empower all individuals to achieve financial wellness through all stages of life’.

As a teenager, she volunteered to help students learn to read, helped raise her five brothers and sisters and eventually became the mother of five children. Teaching her siblings and children reinforced her desire to educate young people. Prior to moving to North Carolina in 2006, Falkner served as the Columbia-Greene Workforce Investment Board Director for six years and was very active with their Youth Council. Betty Ann believes that learning should be fun, a part of everyday life and continue for a lifetime.

Tags:  Principle Five  The Center for Smart Financial Choices 

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CUaware regional councils continue organizing

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Principle Six: Cooperation among cooperatives. Credit unions work together to improve services to members and build sustainable communities.

CUaware continues to recruit regional council members, and is pleased to announce that councils have been formed in most areas of the Carolinas. Regional council members provide local leadership and oversight, including planning events and coordination of all activities of the local group.

Regional council appointments are as follows -

NC Triangle: Joe Mecca, Sara Portis & John Day (Coastal FCU), and Jenn Moore (Local Government FCU).

NC Triad: Laura Engle (Piedmont Advantage CU), Jeremiah Phillips (SECU) and Jon Hamby (Members CU).

SC Pee Dee: Will Crosswell (Palmetto First FCU), Barbara Merrill (Health Facilities FCU) and Kevin Goodwin (SPC CU).

SC Upstate: Amanda Crawford (Carolina Foothills FCU), Micah Smith (SC Telco FCU) and Samantha Byrd (Greenwood Municipal FCU.

SC Midlands: Shelley Lamar & Lacey Barfel (South Carolina FCU), and Hannah McGee (Palmetto Citizens FCU).

Last week, the SC Low Country announced its regional council appointments. Council members will begin planning their initial meeting of the year, which is scheduled for March. The meeting topic will be focused on education.

For more information about CUaware, please contact Brandon McAdams.  

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Spartanburg food co-op reaches stretch fundraising goal

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Principle Seven: Concern for community. Since cooperatives are locally owned, they are committed to investing in the community.


Spartanburg's planned food cooperative reached a major milestone this week. The Hub City Cooperative announced in an email to its stakeholders that it reached its $350,000 stretch fundraising goal. The announcement concludes a four month fundraising campaign by Hub City, which plans to open a full service food cooperative in downtown Spartanburg.  

Reaching the fundraising goal unlocks a matching $350,000 grant from the city of Spartanburg to capitalize Hub City. It also keeps the co-op on track to open later this year.

Hub City Chairman Tim Meade also updated the co-op's nearly 1,200 members about the search for a general manager. Meade shared that a candidate recently interviewed with a search committee and plans are in place to have a general manager in place well ahead of the opening of the co-op.

For more information about Hub City or to join, please click here.

Tags:  Hub City Co-op  Principle Seven 

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Durham Co-op Market to open in mid-February

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Updated: Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Principle Seven: Concern for community. Since cooperatives are locally owned, they are committed to investing in the community.

An artist rendering of the Durham Co-op Market, which is
scheduled to open in February.

If the weather cooperates and all goes well,the Durham Co-op Market (DCM) will open for business in mid-February. Located in downtown Durham, the food co-op will specialize in providing high quality food and products from local sources.

While the finishing touches are made to the Chapel Hill Street location, the co-op is encouraging people to join. Thus far, more than 1,600 people have joined the fledgling co-op, and DCM hopes that number will swell to 2,000 member-owners prior to its grand opening.    

DCM is nearing its opening after seven years of hard work by its board and numerous community volunteers. The idea for DCM sprung from a meeting of the Old North Durham Neighborhood Association in 2007. A committed group of volunteers organized to study the viability of a co-op food store in central Durham. 

Their efforts were slowed by the financial crisis and the lack of funding sources for DCM. A loan from Self-Help CU more recently was a critical development in helping the co-op reach the finish line.

Durham's newest co-op is expected to employ between 20 and 30 people. For more information about DCM or to join the co-op, please click here.

Tags:  Durham Co-op Market  Principle Seven 

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CUaware Charleston group names regional council representatives

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Principle Six: Cooperation among cooperatives. Credit unions work together to improve services to members and build sustainable communities.

The Charleston CUaware group named four credit union professionals to serve as regional council members this week. Corey Pace and Stephanie Ownby of South Carolina Federal Credit Union, as well as Amanda Brown & Steven Lattuca, both of Heritage Trust Federal Credit Union, will serve on the council. 

Regional council members provide local leadership and oversight, including planning events and coordination of all activities of the Charleston group. The CUaware groups throughout the Carolinas will follow a quarterly meeting schedule in 2015 as follows: 

March - education
May - volunteerism
July - networking
October - advocacy  

Elsewhere, CUaware regional councils are in the process of forming. If you are interested in participating in a regional council or need more information, please contact Brandon McAdams.

Tags:  CUaware 

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