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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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Principle Five: Mountain CU Movie Night Caps Youth Week Events

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Thursday, May 15, 2014
Updated: Thursday, May 15, 2014

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

Mountain Credit Union recently held a "Kid’s Outdoor Movie Night” to culminate its National Credit Union Youth Week celebration. The event was held on April 25th at the Candler, NC branch, located at 1453 Sand Hill Road, with lots of pizza, popcorn, candy and soda for everyone.

This year’s Youth Week theme was Catch the $ave Wave™, in hopes of harnessing the excitement for beaches, sand and surfing and to show younger members how they can benefit from visiting — and saving at — their credit union. The credit union also got their members involved by asking them to go online and vote for their choice of four movies that fit the week’s theme and the movie "Finding Nemo” received the most votes. This event was open to credit union members and non-members alike.

Many local businesses were also involved and supported by agreeing to sponsor certain elements of the event. These businesses included Coca-Cola of Asheville, Fletcher Car Care, Clean Streak Inc. of Mills River and Sam’s Club of Hendersonville. Biltmore Baptist Church provided an inflatable bounce house as well as the audio / video equipment and local radio station, 99.9 KISS Country, was on site doing a live remote during the two hours leading up to movie time.

"We want our community to know that kids are important to us and this is a fun way to show it,” said Chris Angel, Business Development Director. "Our Youth Financial Education tools are a great way to engage kids, including my two daughters, in realizing the importance of savings and thrift.”

Mountain CU also encouraged children to print out and color their choice of two coloring pages that were returned to their local branch for display. Our branches were decorated with a fun, beach theme throughout April and each one gave away several fun prizes, including several cash prizes valued at up to $50.

Tags:  CU Savings Week  CU Youth Programs  Mountain CU  Principle Five 

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Principle Six: CUaware lunch & learn event features Center for Smart Financial Choices

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Friday, April 25, 2014
Updated: Friday, April 25, 2014


About 20 people attended the Triad Chapter of CUaware's first-ever lunch-and-learn event in Winston-Salem. The group learned about the programs and mission of the Center for Smart Financial Choices.


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

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

Principle Seven: Concern for community. Since credit unions are locally owned financial institutions, they are committed to investing in the community.  

The Triad Chapter of CUaware learned about the programs of Forsyth County’s Center for Smart Financial Choices on Wednesday, April 23. The session, which CUaware hosted at Allegacy FCU in Winston-Salem, featured the youth financial education programs of the Center.

Created by Allegacy in 2011, the Center for Smart Financial Choices provides financial education to help people make healthy choices in dealing with money. A holistic viewpoint is encouraged through the Center’s hands-on approach which incorporates the individual’s strengths, knowledge, values and goals.

While the CUaware group learned about the non-profit agency’s youth financial education programs, the Center offers educational opportunities covering every aspect of a person’s life cycle. Betty Ann Falkner, who oversees the programs and outreach of the center, directed the lunch & learn event with the 20 credit union staff in attendance.

"This was our first lunch and learn event and we were thrilled to hear about the programs of the center,” shared Jessica Dillon (Piedmont Advantage CU) of the CUaware-Triad group. "The Center invites credit unions to partner with them to help provide financial education to the community. We had a few people sign up to volunteer at upcoming Center events, so there was obviously a lot of excitement about the message.”

Falkner invited attendees to volunteer with the Center, and then engaged the group in a short youth financial education exercise. "We appreciated this opportunity to spread the word about the Center’s programs, goals and mission,” said Falkner. "The group had a little fun at the end with the Adult for A Day experiential learning program we do with middle and high school students as well.”

Adult for A Day puts students in the place of their parents, with each participant given a job, income level and credit score. They must then navigate through a series of life choices in key areas of budgeting in adult life, including housing, transportation, and utilities.

In addition to experiential learning exercises like Adult for A Day, the Center offers workshops and other classes designed to help people make better choices about money. The Center was envisioned by retired Allegacy FCU CEO Ike Keener as a community resource and touch point for enhanced cooperation among credit unions in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.

The Center’s programs are available for members and non-members of credit unions to attend. For more information about the Center for Smart Financial Choices, please go to their web site. You may also keep up with the Center’s activities by liking its Facebook page.

Tags:  CUaware  Principle Five  Principle Seven  Principle Six 

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Principle 7: Self-Help Credit Union enters lending partnership for women entrepreneurs

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, March 31, 2014
Updated: Monday, March 31, 2014

Principle Seven: Concern for community. Since credit unions are locally owned financial institutions, they are committed to investing in the community.

Self-Help Credit Union announced a partnership with Bank of America and the Tory Burch Foundation to provide loans to female entrepreneurs in North Carolina and three South Carolina counties. The initiative is part of a two-year, $10 million lending effort in selected regions & cities across the country.

Called Elizabeth Street Capital, the funding initiative will provide loans of $1,000 and up to women-owned businesses. Loan recipients will also benefit from mentoring and networking opportunities. Self-Help will administer the loans. 

According to a page posted on the Self-Help web site, businesses all 100 counties in North Carolina, as well as Chester, Lancaster and York Counties in South Carolina are eligible to apply. The Charlotte Observer explored the partnership between Bank of America, the Foundation and the credit union, in its Monday March 31 edition.    

Tags:  Principle Seven  Self-Help Credit Union 

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Guest Post: Amanda Crawford learns CU social purpose at CUDE class in Chapel Hill

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, March 25, 2014

(Editor's note: Amanda Crawford, the marketing manager at Carolina Foothills FCU, attended the Winter DE program in Chapel Hill, NC in January. Amanda shares her thoughts about CUDE and the role of credit unions in the financial system.) 

Amanda Crawford (second from right) is pictured at her CUDE graduation with Lois Kitsch (National CU Foundation), Sue Douglas (State Employees' CU) and Gerry Singleton (CUNA Mutual Group).
"Amanda, do you want to go to CUDE training?” "Sure” I said with hesitation in my voice because I didn’t really know what DE was. But that would change my whole outlook on how I do my job and how I look at the credit union industry as a whole.

My DE experience was amazing, fun filled, enlightening and something I will never forget. I went in not knowing what I had gotten myself into but came out with a brand new outlook on what we are here for as credit union professionals! Learning the core operating principles of why credit unions were created changed the way I look at day-to-day practices. I was fortunate enough to have Sue Douglas from State Employees' CU as my mentor. She was a great mentor and a wealth of knowledge. She drove our group to really think outside the box and to look at the credit union movement with different eyes.

Credit unions were created with a social purpose and if we lose that, we lose our identity as credit unions. I believe that everyone from the tellers to CEOs should experience DE so that they can witness the real differences of a credit union and bank. Unfortunately, I think we as CU professionals rest on the statement of "we have lower loan rates, high dividend rates and great service” when people ask what is the difference in credit unions and banks; an as credit unions we are so much more than that! Another highlight was learning the "secret DE handshake” (my other DE counterparts will get that)!

Amanda Crawford was born in Greenville, SC on July 31, 1982. Raised in Taylors, SC, Amanda graduated from Greenville Technical College in 2006 with a AA in Graphic Design. She began working for Liberty Federal Credit Union right out of high school in 2000, found her way to Carolina Foothills FCU in March of 2001, and while finishing her degree worked as a teller. After finishing her degree, Amanda was hired in the marketing department as the marketing assistant and in 2008 was given the opportunity to become the marketing manager.

Amanda says she loves being involved in the community and providing financial education. She is currently involved with Junior Achievement in the Upstate and American Cancer Society. Amanda participated in the 2013 SCCUL (now CUaware) Protégé competition as the Upstate Representative. Amanda currently serves as CUaware’s Communications Director. She received her CUDE designation in January 2014! Amanda says she loves her credit union, the movement it represents ... as well as the Clemson Tigers!

Tags:  Carolina Foothills FCU  CUDE 

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Guest Post: The Sixth Principle - Will Crosswell recaps Crash the GAC

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, March 18, 2014

(Editor's note: Will Crosswell, business development officer at Palmetto First FCU, recently returned from Crash the GAC. Will and Laura Engle of Piedmont Advantage CU both received scholarships to attend Crash the GAC. Will recaps his experience of the event.)  

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

It’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve been back from "Crash the GAC” and I’m still reeling from the experience. It is difficult to summarize the week into a blog post, but I am going to try my best to do it. I found out in January that I had been chosen to represent South Carolina as a Crasher for the 2014 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference. From the moment I set foot into the first session for Crash the GAC on Sunday, you could feel the energy and excitement of those in the room. For many of us, it was a revelation of who we were: "So, I’m not the only one who feels so passionate about what I do.” And for others, it was a reassurance: "I knew I wasn’t the only one out there!” But for me, I felt a sense of empowerment. While each of us holds different titles and are either Credit Union "young” or experienced, throughout the week we were able to learn from one another, help one another, and like me, help me feel more empowered to go back to my state and my community and become a better advocate for my Credit Union.

While the networking and the bonding with the #crashers was amazing, the main focus of the trip was to equip us to learn the important of issues pertaining to Credit Unions and figure out how we can better advocate and convey those to our legislators, our co-workers, and our colleagues. One of the most powerful moments came when Chad Helminak, Vice-President, Development of the Wisconsin Credit Union League, led a session about how to prepare us to walk the hill. I can remember grabbing my pen and paper, ready to take countless notes and tips about hot button legislation and what each House and Senate Resolution contained in them. While we touched on those and discussed the issues, Chad asked each of us to go discuss among our groups (Go Team Chris!) about a moving or impactful story that happened at our Credit Unions. Around the room, you could hear 46+ people from 46+ states tell touching and heart-felt stories about how their Credit Unions helped a particular member or how they affected their community. After 10-15 minutes, Chad asked a few of us to share those impassioned stories with the rest of the group. After three or four of us told our stories, Chad then looked at us and said, "That is what you need to tell you Congressman, Congresswoman, or Senator when you hike the hill on Wednesday.” Yes, we need to know the legislation and we need our states’ delegation to be on our side, but what they need to know is how we help their constituents and convey that if we’re not there to help, then who will be there to help them? That was one of my biggest takeaways from the entire week: We have to tell our story to keep our movement moving forward.

On Friday, when I woke up in my bed in Florence, SC, I was hoarse. I was still tired and I was sore. But I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Truly, the entire week was amazing: from the fellowship with my fellow crashers (#46newbestfriends), to the sessions at the GAC, listening to such great speakers and leaders like Fmr. Prime Minister Tony Blair and Fmr. Secretary of State Madeline Albright, to Thunderpunch, and then being able to Hike the Hill and advocate for our cause, the experience was one I will always treasure. Something we all learned though was that our movement is ready for us, Generation Y/Millenials, to lead. We are no longer "Generation Next”; we’re "Generation Now.” But in order for us to lead effectively, our passion and excitement will only take us so far. We have to be united in the Credit Union message and story and be able to promote the issues that pertain to the sustainability and the viability of our movement. Through The Cooperative Trust, Filene, and within our own communities, we can find the avenues to unite and help each other grow within the movement. It feel privileged to have been selected for this opportunity and I feel more enabled and ready to lead with my #46newbestfriends by my side.

Born in Orangeburg, SC on February 14, 1984, Will grew up in Florence. He graduated from Clemson University in 2006 with a BA in History. Will worked in political campaigns for five years in Washington, DC; Denver, Colorado, and Greenville, SC before joining the credit union ranks.

Wil has been the business development officer for Palmetto First FCU in Florence for the past three years. He coordinates the credit union's community involvement and financial education efforts. In addition to his service to credit unions, Will sits on the Chamber of Commerce executive committee, Parks & Beautification Commission Member for the City of Florence, and is the 2013 Palmetto Protégé. Will also serves on the  CUaware board of directors. Married since 2012, Will and his wife Lindsay are expecting their first child in September.

Tags:  CUNA GAC  Palmetto First FCU  Principle Six 

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