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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 Triad Chapter to hold tacky Christmas attire gathering

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, December 09, 2014
Last year's event drew a wide variety of tacky sweaters and costumes. 

The Triad Chapter of CUaware invites you to don your tackiest Christmas apparel and join them for their holiday gathering December 16! The event takes place beginning at 5:30 pm at the Quiet Pint in Winston-Salem (1420 West 1st Street). There is no admission charge.

This is the second year the Triad Chapter has celebrated the holiday season together. "It's a fun event that we are looking forward to doing again this year," shared Jessica Morphies (Piedmont Advantage CU). "We invite everyone to dress for the occasion and come out to be with your local credit union friends." 

Morphies adds that the prize for tackiest outfit is "bragging rights in the upcoming year." The winner also gets featured in an upcoming CUaware publication.

For more information about this event or to register, please contact Laura Engle (  

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Principle Seven: Greensboro's RCC notes fundraising milestone, outlines community need

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, December 09, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, December 09, 2014

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

To beef up the fundraising campaign, the RCC recently released a video showcasing the history of food access in Northeast Greensboro, poverty & food insecurity, and how the co-op would alleviate these community issues.

The Renaissance Community Co-op (RCC) announced last week it has surpassed $1 million in fundraising in its effort to open a grocery store. The food co-op, to be located in Northeast Greensboro, will provide access to healthy foods to the local neighborhood.  

The fundraising milestone came through a combination of membership drives, loans and grants from partner agencies. The RCC estimates it needs $1.79 million to fully capitalize and open the store. The co-op group hopes to raise these funds through a combination of member loans, economic development incentives and an Indiegogo campaign currently underway.

Tags:  Principle Seven  Renaissance Community Co-op 

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CUaware announces 2015 meeting calendar, regional councils begin organizing

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Friday, November 21, 2014
Updated: Friday, November 21, 2014

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.

CUaware representatives from North Carolina and South Carolina are proud to announce their meeting calendar for 2015 CUaware is a council of the Carolinas Credit Union League, and exists to fill a gap within the credit union industry: the very people that work in credit unions don’t know they work for the best kept secret! CUaware aims to informally introduce all levels of credit union employees to the CU Movement. 

In October, CUaware regional and executive council members selected four key focus areas for CUaware: education, advocacy, networking and volunteerism. Quarterly meetings will be held as follows:

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

All active councils of CUaware in the Carolinas will follow this meeting schedule in order to coordinate efforts and raise the overall visibility of CUaware. 

In addition to setting the meeting calendar up for the year, the regional councils are in the process of being organized for the upcoming year. Council members work together to plan local meetings and events through the year using the guidelines of the master calendar.

"This is a great time to get on board with CUaware by applying to join a regional council, or getting your credit union connected on the local level," said Brandon McAdams (Coastal FCU) the co-founder of CUaware. "The upcoming year will be a tremendous growth opportunity for us and we invite anyone who is interested to in CUaware's mission of learn. share. grow to join forces with us."  

If you are interested in regional council opportunities or need more information, please contact Brandon McAdams.

Tags:  CUaware 

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Charleston-area CUaware group holds organizing meeting

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Thursday, November 20, 2014
Updated: Thursday, November 20, 2014

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

Representatives from SC Federal Credit Union and Latitude 32 Federal
Credit Union joined forces for the strategic planning and event
brainstorming session. For more event photos, please click here

Credit union representatives in the Charleston area held a strategic planning session, taking the first steps toward fleshing out a meeting calendar in 2015. The group, composed of representatives from SC Federal Credit Union and Latitude 32 Federal Credit Union, held the meeting Tuesday evening, November 18 in North Charleston.

CUaware, which is a council of the Carolinas Credit Union League, exists to fill a gap within the credit union industry: the very people that work in credit unions don’t know they work for the best kept secret! CUaware aims to informally introduce all levels of credit union employees to the CU Movement.

SC FCU COO Troy Hall facilitated the session, and provided the group with the overall CUaware plan for meetings in the upcoming year. CUaware chapters in the two Carolinas will hold a minimum of four meetings in 2015 and will focus their efforts in four key areas: education, advocacy, volunteerism and networking. These four focus areas were selected by CUaware representatives in a regional planning session at the end of October. 

Attendees of the Charleston event divided into four groups and brainstormed meeting ideas in each strategic focus area. Meetings and events will be selected from the brainstormed list and scheduled throughout the upcoming year.

"It was a huge first step in organizing the Charleston folks and everyone brought a lot of positive energy and great ideas to the table," shared Hall. "We look forward to sharing these first steps with credit unions in the Low Country and working in partnership to bring the CUaware chapter to life here in the months ahead."  

In addition to the Lowcountry event, CUaware representatives from North Carolina and South Carolina announced the meeting calendar for 2015 and assigned focus areas for each meeting. CUaware regional events will be focused on education in March, volunteerism in May, networking in July and advocacy in October. Read more about this development by clicking here.   

Tags:  CUaware 

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Guest Post: the top ten things I learned at CU Principles and Philosophy

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Monday, November 17, 2014
Updated: Friday, November 14, 2014

This year I was given the opportunity to attend the 2014 Principles and Philosophy Conference in Winston-Salem, NC, through a scholarship given to me by CUaware. Forty-eight others joined me for the day conference and if I could speak for everyone, this was one of the most enlightening and engaging "un”-conferences I’ve ever been to.

What do I mean by "un”-conference? We’ve all been to conferences near and far and many of them have the same set-up: General Session, Breakout Sessions, Break, General Session, Lunch, Breakout Sessions, General Session, Happy Hour, and Dinner. I’m not saying that format is bad or wrong, but those that organized the Principles and Philosophy Conference did not follow that model. We were in one room, primarily, for 2.5 days of discussion, training, and learning. Another attribute that made this conference truly unique is that the 46 of us did most of the talking. Our fearless leaders and moderators Lois Kitsch of National Credit Union Foundation and Larry Blanchard of CUNA Mutual Group, in addition to Patrick Livingston, Brandon McAdams and others, led the discussion, but it was primarily left up to the small groups we had at our table to learn from one another, share our ideas and experiences, and grow from that discussion.

So what did I learn from October 28th-30th at the Principles and Philosophy Conference? As David Letterman does every night on his late-night show, here are the The Top Ten Things I learned at the Principles & Philosophy Conference.

10. Each credit union needs to provide ice cream 24/7. I suppose those of us who attended the conference will truly understand how  awesome it is to have ice-cream within arms or a stroll’s reach at all times, but at the Graylyn Center (the original estate of tobacco tycoon Bowman Gray Sr. and Nathalie Lyons Gray) they provide ice cream in the lodging and main meeting areas throughout the estate. While I realize providing a limitless supply of ice cream to your employees would take a mighty hit to the annual budget, one can dream and in this dream, there’s a limitless supply of ice cream. If you need proof of why it’s awesome, read the guest testimonials here:

9. We’ve come a long way as a movement… From the Rochdale Weavers in England,  an early cooperative founded in 1844, to Alphonse Desjardins starting the 1st US Credit Union in New Hampshire (it still stands today), our movement has had many heroes along the way: Edward Filene, Dora Maxwell (who started 120 credit unions in 6 months!), and many, many others. They each had the vision and the passion to provide our movement with the motivation and the validation to continue to serve our members…

8…And our principles are still the same. The principles that guided the Rochdale Weavers in 1844 are still the same principles that we as financial cooperatives use today: Democratic Member Control, Voluntary Membership, Members’ Economic Participation, Autonomy and Independence, Education-Training-and-Information, Cooperation Among Cooperatives, and Concern for Community. If just one of those were to go away, the very foundation on which we function would be broken. While it’s good to inform out members of these, it is vital that our fellow employees know these principles. If we cannot state the principles we stand for, then how can we expect our members to know the difference in what we do?

7. Everyone has a story. It’s very easy to view our members as numbers. Other financial institutions do. You remove the risk of getting too involved and too emotional in that person’s life, so viewing them based solely on what number they represent based upon their financial behavior or history keeps you as the employee removed. But that’s not us, is it? Whether it’s a member who’s been with you for 1 month or a member that’s been with you for so long their account number is only two digits, every single one of them has a story. We are the movement that says "Yes” and "Let’s find a way.” A fellow conference attendee David Lenoir told us his story of trials and tribulations in his life and how his credit union saved his life. By hearing the story from our members and hear how we can help, we truly embody our motto of "people helping people.”

6. The competition is fierce. ApplePay. Walmart. Best Buy. Big Banks. Auto Dealers… One thing (among many) that we learned from our session reviewing "The Not for Profit, But for Service” Learning Map® is that there are a lot of entities trying to do what we do. So how do we differentiate ourselves? How do we stand apart? And the answers all lie within the cooperative principles. Easier said than done, of course, but the plan is there for us. It is up to us to put it into action and compete.

5. How to be a cooperative. Lois and Larry did an excellent job of telling us what a cooperative is and showing us different types of cooperatives throughout the country and world. Then they posed the question, "Are you acting like the cooperative you claim to be?” It was a tough question and we each had to take a hard look at our credit unions and see if and how we were acting out the cooperative principles for credit unions. You’ve heard the Aristotle quote "The whole is more than the sum of its parts." Well, in order for us to truly act out the cooperative principles, active participation is essential, from the member to the CEO.

4. Empathy. While this may tie in a lot with #7, I felt it was worthy enough to say it again but in a different way. I want to be more compassionate in what I do and this conference showed me that being empathetic can be a sound business decision for our credit union is based upon the cooperative principles "Concern for Community.” I was able to learn through our small group discussions and through many life stories how to make empathy a part of my business model.

3. We’re all in this together. Troy Hall, COO of SC Federal Credit Union and mentor of mine, frequently comments on the fact that we say we’re cooperatives but we do a poor job cooperating with one another. Chuck Purvis, CEO of Coastal Federal Credit Union, expressed to us that we are losing 1 credit union a day and barely gaining 1 per year (we had that one credit union with us with Alex Moore of Community Works FCU in Greenville, SC). I learned that is essential that we try to help one another and communicate our successes and failures. It doesn’t matter if you’re a small, medium, or large credit union, we all need to communicate better and work together for the good of the movement and our members.

2. We are activists. Listening to Larry Blanchard and the fight he wages for our movement was very motivating. He has been behind so many huge pieces of legislation that has kept our movement progressing, particularly, HR 1151, also known as the Credit Union Membership Access Act. He urged us that it is vital that we stay in tune to the hot topics of the day in Washington, Raleigh, and Columbia and to let our representatives know what we think and how we feel. Lois discussed with us the international struggle we as a movement face to start credit unions in war-torn or impoverished countries. The fight for our movement is waged daily and it is up to us to mobilize the grassroots and stand for our current and future members.

1. It’s still all about the member. We can have all the latest products and services, but if we are not meeting the needs of the member, than what are we doing as a movement?  Our members trust us with their finances and their security. It is our role to sustain that trust by listening to their needs and meeting them head on. Without the member, there is no financial cooperative.

Like I said at the very beginning, this was the best "un”-conference I’ve ever been to. It was not easy choosing only 10 things that I learned. In closing, EVERY Credit Union professional could benefit from attending this conference. Whether you’re new to the Credit Union movement, a young professional, or an "experienced” professional, you will walk away with a better understanding of why we do what we do. I appreciate CUaware choosing me to attend this conference and helping me better understand the cooperative principles of the credit union.

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.

Will 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 welcomed Geneva, their first child, in September.


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