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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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Guest post: Akira Jacobs on mentoring young professionals

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2016

(Editor's note: Akira Jacobs, a service manager at South Carolina Federal Credit Union, is the 2015 CUaware  Protégé. Akira reflects in this post on the impact of being mentored at her credit union, as well as participating in the CUaware Protégé Mentor program. If you are interested in participating in the Mentor program in 2017, please contact Jeff Hardin.)

When I started my career in the credit union industry, I had no idea how embedded the credit union movement would be in my heart. I started as a teller in 2008 and instantly fell in love with the people I worked with. I saw an atmosphere of encouragement, leadership and education within the company. It was apparent to me that employee growth was supported from within the senior management.

After a month of working with South Carolina Federal Credit Union, the vice president of my region called me into an office to see how I was doing. In that meeting she spoke words of affirmation into my life that gave me the confidence to be who I am in my credit union career today. I often wonder if she even remembered that moment or knew the impact her words had on me. I imagine that at some point in her career someone influenced her the same way she did me, and that is why she knew it was her responsibility to do the same. To me, that moment portrayed true mentorship.

Everyone who is a leader has had a person in their life encouraging them along the way, and people who desire to become leaders are in search of a person that will influence them. The Carolina’s Credit Union League has designed a mentorship program that places mentees with a mentor in a leadership position.   

After winning the 2015 Protégé Competition I had the opportunity to engage with several mentors from the CUaware Protégé Mentor program. This program has helped my career grow tremendously. I was able to engage with senior managers and board members of various credit unions from North and South Carolina. I learned the steps they took to get where they are today. Having a person in your corner rooting you on is such an important connection to have.  

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit among the next group of credit union professionals who were competing in the 2016 CUaware Protégé Finals Competition. As I sat there and listened to each of their presentations, I couldn’t help but think how amazing the next year would be for them.  I never thought my career would take off the way it did after being involved in this program.

A week after I turned over my Protégé title to Paul Narcisse, the 2016 winner, I was promoted to a management position.  I am living proof that programs designed for career and leadership development truly work.  I will always have someone who is mentoring me, but now I am in a position to be a mentor and help a new group of people reach their career goals.

The credit union movement is about “People Helping People”. This is not just for our members but internally as well. I believe if we all live by this philosophy then we will continue to have strong people leading the way for the future of our credit unions.

Akira Jacobs is a service manager for South Carolina Federal Credit Union. She has worked at SC Federal for more than seven years and aspires to become a senior manager. She has her Associates degree in business administration from Strayer University. Akira serves as vice chair for SC Federal's foundation committee, and is the communications chair for the Lowcountry Chapter CUaware. She also enjoys doing outside charity work.

Tags:  CUaware Protégé  CUaware Protégé Mentor program 

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State CU debuts the Reality of Money

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Principle Five: Education, training, and information. Credit unions educate and train members, employees and volunteers so they can contribute effectively to the development of the credit union. In addition, credit unions provide financial education for their members and the public.

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.

Students at Ware Shoals High School make
"real life" choices on necessities like food,
housing and transportation during the Reality
of Money event October 20.

More than 100 juniors and seniors at Ware Shoals High School got a taste of reality thanks to State Credit Union. The students participated in the Reality of Money event that the credit union brought to their western South Carolina school on October 20.

The Reality of Money, which was developed by Credit Union Development Educators in North Carolina and South Carolina, is an experiential learning event for high school students. Students learn, as they participate, about the impact their choices make in their budget and lifestyle, as they are "transformed" into wage earning, bill paying and financially independent young adults. The end result is that students get a powerful lesson about the real-life choices they will soon be making. 

The credit union spent several months researching and branding the Reality of Money materials, which are provided free-of-charge to credit unions in the two Carolinas. The credit union plans to do more such events in the future, and in the meantime the students shared a variety of learning points in their comments. 

Some of the feedback included:

"I learned I have to make smart decisions to save money."

"I learned that I must have a better education than a high school diploma if I want a good job."

"I learned that I should not be just throwing away money, because living and taking care of your family is not cheap."

"I learned that you should get all that you need, before your wants."

If your credit union is interested in learning more about the Reality of Money, please contact Jeff Hardin at the Carolinas Credit Union League (919-457-9063).

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43 attend Principles & Philosophy Conference

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Thursday, October 20, 2016
Updated: Monday, October 17, 2016

Forty-three credit union staff from both Carolinas examined the cooperative business model this week during the Principles & Philosophy Conference. The event took place October 18-20, 2016 at the Caraway Conference Center in Sophia, NC.

Top: Credit union leaders participate in team building exercises on Tuesday, October 18 conducted by Caraway staff.

Bottom: Participants listen as CCUL's Latasha Cooper leads Wednesday's session on the cooperative learning map.

Presented each year through a partnership between the League and the Credit Union Development Educators (DEs) of North Carolina and South Carolina, the Principles & Philosophy Conference offers credit union staff a deep dive into the credit union business model. Attendees learn the key differences between banks and credit unions, share how their credit union lives out each of the Seven Cooperative Principles, and discover how credit unions are part of a worldwide cooperative movement. 

Attendees kicked off the event with a team building exercise conducted by the Caraway staff, then explored the fundamentals of the cooperative business model. Later, the class explored the history of the Rochdale Pioneers, who originated the Seven Cooperative Principles in 1844. Attendees also shared how and why their credit union originally formed, and drew connecting points between their credit union's origins and those of the Rochdale Pioneers.

The class also heard about the community impact of other cooperatives in the Carolinas during a panel discussion headed by Emily Nail of the NC Cooperative Council. Nail was joined by an employee of an electrical cooperative, a food coop as well as BioRegen Innovations, a North Carolina seed cooperative.  

In addition to the DEs of the Carolinas, Lois Kitsch of the National Credit Union Foundation and Larry Blanchard of CUNA Mutual Group were on hand to provide insights. Blanchard examined the evolution of the credit union membership model over the last century, and showed the role advocacy has played through the years in this evolution. Kitsch, who has traveled the world in order to start or assist credit unions and credit union systems, shared the impact credit unions are having in war-torn places such as Afghanistan.  

The conference is participatory in nature, offering attendees a means to learn by hearing a variety of perspectives while sharing their own. A clear example was the small group presentation of skits relating the lives of credit union pioneers. Each participant researched a credit union pioneer prior to the conference, and then combined what they learned individually with their fellow small table group members in order to tell the story of the pioneer in a unique and creative way.

The conference concluded on International Credit Union Day with a keynote address from Troy Hall, a DE from South Carolina Federal Credit Union. Hall's Power of One message inspired the class to take the message home with them and to incorporate their learning into their daily work. 

Tags:  Principles and Philosophy Conference 

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Coastal FCU's Maria Moore earns CUDE designation

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Forty-five credit union professionals became Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) after being guided by dedicated program facilitators and mentors through the intensive Credit Union Development Education (DE) Training from the National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation). Maria Moore of Coastal FCU was among the attendees successfully earning the designation. The DE training was held September 14-21, 2016 at the Lowell Center in Madison, Wis.

After attending the September DE Training, Julia Sohn, Vice President of Human Resources at SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union in Santa Ana, Calif., said, “The DE Program wasn’t a training - it was a life experience. I walked away with a heartfelt understanding of who we are as a movement, and profound respect for what it took to get us where we are today. I’m energized and ready to do all I can to help better the lives of others.” 

Team Projects

DE Training provides critical lessons in cooperative principles, credit union philosophy and international development issues while incorporating challenges credit unions face today. During the recent week-long program, participants were involved in group exercises, field trips, discussions with speakers from around the credit union system, and are required to complete team projects proposing solutions for credit unions to help alleviate or eliminate challenging situations in any given area. For this class’ final case studies, participants worked through and presented solutions to critical issues that included student loan debt, board development and recruiting including the debate over compensation, building microfinance programs in developing countries, credit union solutions to predatory lending, the increasing issue of homelessness in America, and rejuvenating a stagnant credit union.

November DE Session Sold Out

Due to increased demand, the Foundation added a fourth DE Training session this year to take place in November. This session is occurring November 1-8 in Madison, Wis. and is already sold out. If you are interested in 2017 DE Trainings, visit to learn more or you can email to be put on a notification list for when registration opens up.  

Tags:  Credit Union Development Education 

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Decked in denim: credit unions mark Miracle Jeans Day

Posted By Jeff Hardin, Wednesday, September 14, 2016
Updated: Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Staff at Local Government FCU in Raleigh decked in
denim for Miracle Jeans Day outside their Raleigh

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. 

On Wednesday, September 14 more than fifty thousand credit union employees in hundreds of credit unions nationwide dressed with purpose and showed their support for their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. The Carolinas Credit Union League staff proudly joined with North Carolina and South Carolina credit unions in order to help the patients in our local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals by wearing jeans in celebration of Miracle Jeans Day!


In addition to the League, participating credit unions in the Carolinas included:

  • Bragg Mutual FCU
  • Carolina Collegiate FCU
  • Corning FCU
  • Lakelands FCU
  • Local Government FCU
  • Shuford FCU
  • Welcome FCU

In addition to decking out in denim,  staff nationwide posted photos on their credit union’s social media accounts, and tagged CU4Kids on Facebook and Twitter as well as their local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.


These efforts helped to make miracles for kids in the Carolinas! The League thanks you for your participation and support of Miracle Jeans Day! Please send your event photos from Miracle Jeans Day to Jeff Hardin.

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