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Tarheel Chapter: CUaware Protégé Competition

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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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CUaware Lowcountry picks Protégé, holds expert panel

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, July 21, 2015

In addition to the networking event and panel discussion, the Lowcountry
Council of CUaware also held its Protégé Competition, featuring (from left)
Sean Crowley, Patrick Deming and Akira Jacobs. Jacobs, of South Carolina
Federal Credit Union, won the competition and will compete in the CUaware
Protégé  Finals in October.

More than 40 credit union professionals gathered in North Charleston Wednesday evening, July 15 for the CUaware Lowcountry Council meeting. The fast-paced meeting featured a networking opportunity for attendees, plus a panel of local credit union experts.

The meeting kicked off with the Council's CUaware Protégé Competition. Three contestants, all from South Carolina Federal Credit Union, gave a five minute presentation on a credit union topic they each selected. In the end, Akira Jacobs, SC Federal's insurance, investment and benefits coordinator was selected by the judges. Jacobs will now advance to the CUaware Protégé Final Competition at the Leadership Conference in Pinehurst in October.  

The panel discussion featured four local experts talking about various initiatives underway at their credit union. Nise Lowell of Heritage Trust Federal Credit Union shared details about student-run credit unions that Heritage Trust is opening at two local high schools. The credit union hired sixteen area high school students to run the two branches, which will open for business in August.

Bonnie Ciuffo of SC Federal updated the attendees on the credit union's foundation and its impact on staff philanthropy & community involvement. The South Carolina Federal Credit Union Foundation supports a variety of organizations, including the American Red Cross, Lowcountry Food Bank and Eagle Harbor Ranch. 

Claudette Smith, the manager of CO Federal Credit Union shared a personal account of what lead her to assume the leadership role at the credit union 14 years ago, and the impact CO FCU is having on the local community. Civil Rights Leader Esau Jenkins helped found CO and several other cooperative enterprises during the 1950s and 1960s. The credit union continues to honor its founding purpose,by providing financial services to members who have had a hard time accessing affordable credit. Smith also praised the efforts of Heritage Trust in helping the smaller CO FCU stay ahead of the curve on key regulatory and compliance issues.

The panel also featured Troy Hall of South Carolina Federal discussing something he is passionate about - leadership development. Hall noted the credit union's approach to providing a stimulating and rewarding professional atmosphere to employees. He also challenged more seasoned attendees to "pour into someone" who is just starting their credit union careers by becoming a mentor

In addition to the credit unions participating in the Protégé Competition and panel discussion, Latitude 32 FCU and CPM FCU also attended the meeting and contributed to the success of the 30 minute networking session. The Lowcountry Council will next meet in the fourth quarter with its annual Legislative Advocacy Day. This event connects credit union employees with their elected leaders in Columbia and Washington, DC. More details on this event are coming soon!       

Tags:  CUaware  CUaware Protégé 

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CUaware Triad group REACHes to host volunteer event

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Principle Seven: Concern for community. Credit unions work for the sustainable development of communities through policies developed and accepted by the members. Credit unions seek to achieve a greater good through responsible corporate citizenship.

Learn more about REACH and how you can get involved in this
video presentation.

The Carolinas Credit Union Foundation introduced the Reach program at the beginning of 2015. The premise of Reach is to take the experiences of Victory Junction Camp on the road to Children’s Hospitals, Ronald McDonald Houses, and anywhere else where children and their families are gathered for an extended time of recovery.

In the past few months new Reach programs have opened in Greenville and Columbia, South Carolina and existing relationships have been enhanced greatly due to the credit unions of NC and SC committing $200,000 annually to this branded program. One of the hallmarks of the project is bringing credit union team members out to these facilities to interact with the families and tell the story of why it is important to us to give back to our communities.

So, when it came time for the first Ronald McDonald House day long event in Winston-Salem, CCUF President/CEO John P. McGrail naturally turned to CUaware to seek out volunteers. “CUaware has been examining volunteerism as one of their core concentrations this year. They are very excited to have this opportunity to put hands and feet on their learning,” says McGrail.

Scenes from the CUaware Triad volunteer event held July 10 at the
Ronald McDonald House in Winston-Salem.

On Friday, July 10 the afternoon started with games and playground time as well as the evening’s meal preparation. Volunteers from Piedmont Advantage CU, Winston-Salem FCU, Members CU, Lion’s Share FCU, Allegacy FCU, Truliant FCU, as well as CU Direct all came out to have fun with the children and families that were utilizing the Ronald McDonald House facilities while their family member was being treated at nearby Brenner Children’s Hospital. After dinner there was a movie night along with board games.

“It was a great, heart-warming experience for all of us - thanks for the opportunity!!,” said Vicky Slate, Sr Mortgage Manager for Piedmont Advantage CU who is also the head of their Social Responsibility Team. “It was just an honor to be a part of this event! Thank you Reach and CCUF for allowing us as CUaware to be involved!!!,” says Jon Hamby, the NW Chapter of Credit Unions CUaware Protégé.

The Carolinas Credit Union Foundation is looking to all of our NC and SC credit unions to come together and meet this year’s $200,000 commitment to this project which has already impacted more than 2,000 children and families throughout our states. A donation link can be found at the Foundation’s website,

Tags:  Carolinas Credit Union Foundation  Principle Seven 

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Guest Post: a most patriotic service

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, July 13, 2015
Updated: Thursday, July 09, 2015

(Editor's note: this post was written and submitted by South Carolina Federal Credit Union President/CEO R. Scott Woods.) 

South Carolina Federal Credit Union member William Talk gave the credit union
a flag with the pictured certificate, which he received from the Marine Corps
. The
flag flew over Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan in 2013.

In the credit union world, we are privileged to be a piece of many life events. The sliding doors to our South Carolina Federal financial centers welcome eager first home buyers, key-jingling new drivers and savings accounts for the next generation of Kids Club daily.

In anticipation of Independence Day, however, we are reminded of the day, that our Naval Weapons Station financial center welcomed a familiar face with a treasure beyond that of bills or coins. Mr. William Talk, a 14 year Army veteran and 20 year credit union member brought, tucked in his arms, a firmly folded American flag.

 The flag and certificate are on display at
the credit union's Rivers Avenue
headquarters in North Charleston.

Mr. Talk offered our team the flag, flown over Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, in appreciation for the service and kindness he had received at the credit union.

As an institution birthed in 1936 by fourteen Naval Shipyard employees, we have always held the military at our core. It has been our honor to serve those who serve our nation, and their families, for nearly 80 years.

Yet it is steadfast gestures like this that remind us that our military members are willing to give on so many fronts, going above and beyond without request nor question.


We are proud to display this prized emblem of our freedom publicly at our Rivers Avenue headquarters.
While a simple gesture, we offer it as a thank you, to a generous member and heroic force in appreciation of your service, kindness and a job well done.


Scott Woods has served as President/CEO of South Carolina Federal Credit Union since 2004. His extensive credit union experience includes serving as CFO of South Carolina FCU, SRP FCU, and SC Telco FCU. Woods also held the title of Senior Financial Institution Auditor with KPMG Peat Marwick. 

Woods received a bachelor of science degree from the College of Charleston, and an MBA from Auburn University. Woods is also a graduate of the Southeast Regional Credit Union Management School, the Credit Union National Association Financial Management School and holds both Certified Public Accountant and Certified Internal Auditor certificates.

Tags:  South Carolina FCU 

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CUNA Councils invites your credit union to go "ALL In"

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Thursday, July 09, 2015

Principle Six is all about collaboration. And a core strength of cooperatives is their ability to work together in order to help each partner - and the overall movement - be more successful.

CUNA Councils is one reflection of this commitment to cooperation among cooperatives. CUNA Councils provide resources, information, networking and professional development to credit union professionals.

Membership is open to credit union employees who have responsibilities related to six key areas of credit union management; Lending, Marketing and Business Development, CFO, Technology, Human Resources and Training and Development and Operations, Sales and Service.

To call attention to their many benefits, CUNA Councils recently launched "ALL In", a coordinated campaign to encourage credit unions to have members in each of the six Councils. Credit unions who are, or become, “ALL In” by August 21, 2015 are entered to win a CUNA Prize Pack worth more than $11,000! 

The benefits of CUNA Council membership include: 

  • Networking
  • Education
  • Research
  • Tools, Resources and Information
  • Discounts
  • Awards, Best Practices and Scholarships

As an added bonus, the campaign has a "pay it forward" aspect you may be interested in supporting. When credit union staff Tweet selfies with fellow CUNA Council members (no matter how many members or combinations of Councils) and include the hashtag #ALLInCouncils, a donation of $6 will be made to the National Credit Union Foundation (up to a $5000 total donation).

For more information on the campaign, please contact  

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Latino Community CU celebrates "the Quinceañera" in annual report

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Thursday, July 09, 2015
Updated: Thursday, July 09, 2015

In many Latin American countries, a person's 15th birthday is celebrated as a passage from adolescence to maturity. Called the Quinceañera, it is a significant moment of celebration in a young person's life.

Latino Community Credit Union in Durham, which is celebrating 15 years of service to underserved and immigrant members in North Carolina, embraced the spirit of the Quinceañera in its recently-published annual report.

"Over the last decade and a half, the credit union has grown together with our 60,000 members," shared CEO Luis Pastor and Chairman John Herrera in a joint letter to the membership. "Thanks to our members, partners and supporters, we have become a self-sustaining institution that is able to offer economic opportunity for all."

The annual report touts the core programs of the credit union that help deliver on that economic value proposition, including Latino's financial education programs as well as its lending and savings initiatives. The report also highlights the diverse membership base, which includes members from 110 countries across the world. The document also notes that 65% of the membership was previously unbanked before joining the credit union. 

Latino Community CU organized in 2000 in the wake of several high profile robberies of Latino immigrants in Durham, NC. The credit union was viewed as a vehicle for immigrant populations to safely save their money while receiving financial services that would help them thrive. Today, the credit union is a full-service financial institution will 11 branches across NC and more than 60,000 members. 

"We look optimistically to our future and the future of our members," the joint letter concludes, "because as our community's needs grow, so will we." To view the credit union's annual report, please click here


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