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7/24/2014 » 7/26/2014
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Seven Principles Blog
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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 5: High school students get a dose of financial reality from Members CU

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Updated: Thursday, January 16, 2014

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

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

 Jon Hamby tells students what their food options are at
the "Gotta Eat” station. It is up to the students to decide
how much to spend on groceries and dining out.
Davie High School hosted four Financial Reality Fairs for a total of 174 High School Students. The program called Mad City Money, sponsored by the Winston-Salem based Members Credit Union, is a two hour interactive simulation that provides students with a glimpse of what it’s like to be an adult managing personal and family finances.

The program first took place on Monday, January 6 for 48 students and then was repeated three times on Thursday, January 9 for 40 to 46 students at a time. Each student was given a new identity with a family, occupation, salary, debt, and medical insurance co-payments and challenged to make financial decisions to meet their family’s needs. (Note: see event coverage in the Winston-Salem Journal by clicking here.)

"Financial literacy is important for high school students because in the very near future they will be responsible for their own finances, and many of them have very little knowledge of how to manage money or what their everyday expenses will consist of,” remarked Paula O’Rorke, Business Education Teacher at Davie High School. "The pressure from direct marketing solicitations to take on credit card debt, and the trend in student loan obligations make it even more important for students to understand the impact debt will make on their lives.”

To demonstrate how debt affects their lives in the simulation, students were instructed to visit nine stations regarding housing, transportation, clothing, food, day care, entertainment, discretionary items, savings contributions, and credit card payments to buy what their family needed while staying within a budget. They were also required to purchase items based on the size of their family and the age of their children. At each event there were 20 to 24 volunteers and many of them played the high-pressure sales person role at a station, encouraging students to buy higher priced items.

According to Jon Hamby, a volunteer who sold grocery and dining out options at the "Gotta Eat” station, students were surprised at the cost to feed a family. "Most of the students realized that feeding their family is more expensive than they thought and chose the least expensive option in order to stretch their monthly budget,” said Hamby.

The goal for participants was to stay within their budget but have no more than $100 in their checking account after they completed all of the reality fair requirements. During the simulation, students were encouraged to visit the Members Credit Union station to make contributions to a savings account, open a retirement account, pay down credit card debt, and seek advice if they experienced financial trouble or had more than $100 left in their checking account. Eric Stiff, VP at Members Credit Union volunteered at this station.

"One student started out at the entertainment station and bought over $3,000 worth of vacations. I explained to him why he needed to return some entertainment items and live within his budget,” recalled Stiff. "I think the light bulb went off and he realized that he must pay his obligations before spending money on entertainment. When he returned to the credit union station at the end of the session he had over $1,000 to put into savings and he paid off his credit card debt.”

Members Public Relations Director Carla Kimel shared that these events provide several takeaways for students. "The hands on experience provided by the Financial Reality Fair made budgeting a tangible concept for students. Students from the financial management and math classes that participated were able to take what they have learned all year in school and apply that knowledge to a real life situation. Many students were surprised about the cost to raise a family and considered expenses that they have yet to deal with in real life."

Members Credit Union has also coordinated financial reality fairs with High School Students at Surry Central High School and seventh graders at North Davie Middle School. There is also an in-class financial literacy seminar program available for educators that can’t offer two hours for a reality fair during the school day. To find out how you can work with Members Credit Union to bring financial literacy to your school or youth program call 336-748-4594.

Tags:  Members Credit Union  Principle Five  Principle Seven 

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Principle 6: Cooperative effort to bring national CUDE program to the Carolinas

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Updated: Thursday, January 16, 2014

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

The Carolinas Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE) group, which represents a coalition of nearly 50 CUDEs in both Carolinas, will assist the National Credit Union Foundation in hosting the first-ever Winter DE program later this month. The event takes place January 21-28, 2014 at the Rizzo Center in Chapel Hill.

A staple credit union program for more than 30 years, CUDE training is open to everyone from new employees who need a credit union orientation to seasoned executives who need to recharge. Participants cite many benefits of attending DE training, including:

  • Acquiring skills in credit union outreach initiatives, problem solving, technical assistance, team building, and public presentations.
  • Becoming a part of a networking group including over 1,000 graduates across America and 30 other countries.
  • The realization that local issues are indeed global – and that credit unions grow stronger by working cooperatively.
  • A new understanding of how to promote cooperative principles and credit union values as distinct advantages in today’s competitive financial services marketplace.

Assisted by volunteer facilitators and mentors from across the country, NCUF will provide the CUDE curriculum to 48 participants, including three from Africa. Sixteen participants from North and South Carolina will also participate in the Winter DE class.

The Carolina CUDEs will provide volunteer support to the National Credit Union Foundation throughout the week-long event, including transportation and on-site facilitation of the core curriculum.

"We’re thrilled to be able to offer a third CUDE program, and sincerely appreciate the Carolina DEs for their assistance in coordinating this new offering,” shared Lois Kitsch, NCUF’s Program Director for the CUDE Program. "Credit unions succeed by working together, and their volunteer efforts will impact the lives of each person attending Winter DE.”

The CUDE program concludes with project presentations and graduation on Tuesday, January 28. Credit union staff are welcome to attend this event, which takes place from 10:00 am until 3:30 pm. For more information, please contact Lois Kitsch.

Tags:  Credit Union Development Education  National CU Foundation 

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Principle 3: SAFE FCU returns $2 million to members

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Friday, January 10, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 10, 2014

Principle Three: Member economic participation. The more members use the credit union, the more both the members and the cooperative benefit.  

SAFE Federal Credit Union members received extra benefits December 31, 2013 when bonus dividends and loan interest rebates totaling $2.0 million were posted to accounts. Deposit accounts, including certificates, received a 20 percent bonus based on dividends received in 2013. Loan accounts (except credit cards) received a 7 percent interest rebate based on total interest paid in 2013.

"The unique structure and philosophy of credit unions makes it possible for our Board of Directors to declare year-end bonus returns,” said SAFE President/CEO Beverly A. Gagne. Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives owned solely by members, so borrowers and savers alike share in the earnings, she explained, adding that credit union balance sheets are not affected by the volatility of the stock market.

"We are delighted to be able to provide this ‘extra return’ to our members, on top of the competitive rates they have received all year,” Gagne continued. "We can’t think of a better way to say to our members that at SAFE, membership matters.”

SAFE has paid bonus dividends annually for the past 18 years and loan interest rebates for the past eleven years.

"We appreciate our members’ support of SAFE and thank them for making 2013 successful despite the rocky economy,” added Gagne. "While some other institutions have been severely tested this past year, SAFE reported solid earnings, core financial strength, and loan growth. This is just one of the ways we share our success with the members who made it possible.”

Tags:  Pee Dee Chapter  SAFE FCU 

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Principle 3: Premier FCU returns earnings to membership

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, January 06, 2014
Updated: Thursday, January 16, 2014

Principle Three: Member economic participation. The more members use the credit union, the more both the members and the cooperative benefit.

For the fourth consecutive year, members of Premier Federal Credit Union received 5% of the interest paid in 2013 on eligible loans. More than 8,600 members received a portion of the $244,000 given back through a deposit to their savings account. Over the past four years, more than $947,000 has been returned to members in the form of an annual interest rebate.

"The credit union philosophy as a financial cooperative is to return our profits to our members-owners. We are pleased to be in the financial position that afforded us this opportunity!” stated Lori Thompson, President and CEO. The decision to give the interest rebate was made by the Board of Directors at the meeting held in November with the announcement being made to the membership in the winter newsletter. "The response from our members has been very positive.” said Thompson, "Some were calling before year end in anticipation of how much their rebate would be. This is a great way for us to thank them for their business!” said Thompson.

Tags:  North Piedmont Chapter  Premier FCU  Principle Three 

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Principle 2: Clearview FCU members in Charlotte vote to join Piedmont Advantage CU

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, December 30, 2013
Updated: Thursday, January 16, 2014

Principle Two: Democratic member control. Each member has equal say in the operation of the credit union (one member, one vote).

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

Piedmont Advantage Credit Union and Clearview Federal Credit Union jointly announced today that the North Carolina-based members of the Clearview Federal Credit Union in Charlotte, NC have overwhelmingly voted to approve the spin-off of specific members to Piedmont Advantage. Clearview Federal and Piedmont Advantage worked closely over the past few months to create a "win-win” situation to provide value for the members of both credit unions. One of the most important aspects of this spin-off was the retention of the Charlotte employees of Clearview Federal to provide consistency and to continue building relationships that have been nurtured over several years. As a result, Piedmont Advantage will acquire Clearview Federal Credit Union’s branch at 2830 Boyer Street early next year. This "spinoff” will benefit members of both credit unions in the Charlotte area, as Piedmont Advantage plans to combine one of its Charlotte Branches, located at 47000 Yorkmont Road,. into the Clearview Boyer Street Branch location on February 28, 2014.

"Our staff is excited to welcome the new Members and to gain a better understanding of their unique financial needs, which will ultimately allow us to partner with members to achieve their goals and dreams. We are eager to show our new Members how we are easy to do business with, and always work to improve the financial well-being of every member we serve,” said Judy R. Tharp, Piedmont Advantage President and CEO. "Our vision at Piedmont Advantage is to enhance the lives of our members by providing quality products and caring solutions with a "can-do” attitude.”, Tharp said.

The new members of Piedmont Advantage will also have access to a complete line of financial service solutions at all the Piedmont Advantage Credit Union branches throughout North Carolina. Members also have access to the CO-OP Shared Branch Service Center Network, Credit Union Service Center locations, and nationwide CO-OP surcharge free ATMs. In addition, the Piedmont Advantage Credit Union Call Center offers expanded hours to existing Clearview Members from 8:00 am – 8:00 pm EST.

Tags:  Piedmont Advantage CU  Piedmont Chapter  Principle Six  Principle Two 

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