(Editor's note: this post composed with information furnished by CUNA and America's Credit Union Museum.)
The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has pledged to be the lead sponsor of the America’s Credit Union Museum “Legacy” Capital Campaign to help ensure the rich history of the credit union system is preserved for future generations.
Located in Manchester, New Hampshire on the site where America's first credit union opened its doors in 1908, America's Credit Union Museum has been in operation since 2002. True to credit union philosophy, the Museum is a cooperative resource celebrating the credit union movement’s past, present and future. The Legacy Campaign is a three-year capital campaign with a goal of raising $3.3 million to create a new industry research center, add additional exhibit space, and provide renovations to the existing Museum building.
CUNA’s $1 million pledge would fund what will be known as the “CUNA Research Center.” The Center will be housed in the building next to America’s Credit Union Museum and will create a virtual experience that will provide credit unions, consumers, the media, lawmakers, regulators, and others the ability to delve into the history of credit unions. The new Center will allow every credit union the opportunity to tell its unique story virtually through the Museum. The Museum and Research Center will eventually be connected via a Sky Walk.
“Conserving and promulgating credit union history is consistent with our mission of supporting, protecting, unifying and advancing the credit union movement,” said Jim Nussle, president and CEO of CUNA, the nation’s largest credit union trade association. “CUNA is proud to participate in this project, which has the potential to ultimately preserve for future generations the roots and growth of the credit union legacy in America, particularly as we strive to achieve our system vision of ‘American’s best choice for financial services.’”
America’s Credit Union Museum Chairman, Michael L'Ecuyer, thanked CUNA for not only its financial pledge, but its partnership in preserving the tradition and history of the credit union system. “CUNA has long supported the preservation of the history of the credit union movement in our country. Through this generous pledge to the Legacy Campaign, the Museum will be able to continue telling the story of our heritage, principles and values and providing future generations a link to the rich past of credit unions in America.”
CUNA’s pledge puts the Legacy Campaign more than half-way towards its fundraising goal. America’s Credit Union Museum Executive Director Stephanie Smith will be focused on raising funds to fulfil the remainder of the goal. Stephanie stressed that supporting this campaign right now is crucial. “Credit union leaders are retiring from our movement every single day. With them is going the knowledge of the past and the stories that have shaped credit union values. We need the support of credit unions and credit union partners to help us preserve and protect the history and heritage that explains why credit unions are different and unique both in the communities in which we do business and in the eyes of our elected officials.”
The Museum’s Board and Staff is committed to evolving the Museum into a strategic planning destination, a beacon of the cooperative spirit of credit unions, and an ongoing entity that ensures the history of credit unions is told loudly and proudly for decades to come, said Smith. She said the new CUNA Research Center adds the virtual component which will allow that history to be accessed in a much more accessible way.
The site of the museum honors the formation of the nation's first credit union. In November 1908, a group of French-speaking mill workers in Manchester, New Hampshire pooled their resources together to form the nation's first credit union. La Caisse Populaire, Ste-Marie (People's Bank of St. Mary) remains in operation today as St. Mary's Bank Credit Union.