User login

Missouri Credit Unions Win National Acclaim in 2015

Five Missouri credit unions have earned national recognition for their efforts to improve members' financial lives and positively impact the community. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) judged award entries from all across the nation to name top honors. Here are the Missouri winners: 

  • 1st Financial Federal Credit Union (Wentzville)
  • CommunityAmerica Credit Union (Kansas City)
  • Electro Savings Credit Union (St. Louis)
  • Ozark Federal Credit Union (Poplar Bluff)
  • United Credit Union (Mexico)

1st Financial Federal Credit Union received second place in the $50 - $250 million asset category for its Louise Herring Award for Philosophy in Action entry: S.L.A.T.E. Summer Youth Job Accounts.

The Louise Herring Philosophy-in-Action Member Service Award is given to a credit union for its practical application of credit union philosophy within the actual operation of the credit union. It is awarded for internal programs and services that benefit membership. 1st Financial was awarded a second place recognition for the Louise Herring Philosophy-in-Action Member Service award due to the results of the STL Youth Jobs program, which has given access to more than 1,100 free checking accounts to local at risk youth. This program has also provided hundreds of hours of financial literacy for working young people in St. Louis city. To date, these youth have saved more than $40,000.

Louise Herring was an active supporter, organizer, and champion of credit unions. She was the Ohio delegate to the 1934 national credit union conference in Estes Park, CO where she signed the original constitution for a national credit union association. Louise believed that credit unions should work in a practical manner to better people's lives. She saw the credit union as more than just a financial institution. In her own words, "the purpose of the credit union is to reform the financial system, so that everyone can have his place in the sun."

Caption (pictured at right): Tracy Verner (left), Community Development Manager at 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, and Carol Minges (right), Chief Executive Officer of 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, speak with a STL Youth Jobs participant during orientation.

CommunityAmerica Credit Union received two awards. The credit union received a first place award in the more than $500 million asset category for its Desjardins Financial Education Award (Adult) entry and a second place award in the more than $1 billion asset category for its Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award entry.

"CommunityAmerica is incredibly honored to be recognized for our financial education programs at a national level. One pillar of our calling is to build financial peace of mind together with our members," says Lisa Ginter, President/CEO of CommunityAmerica Credit Union. "That wouldn’t be possible without a tangible commitment to our community through the Foundation and our signature program, Family Financial Transformations™. We have directly assisted our clients with collectively reducing more than $110,000 in debt and increasing savings by nearly $17,000. Thank you for recognizing our efforts and allowing us to celebrate the CommunityAmerica and credit union difference at a national level.”

In an effort to expand financial education outreach to the underserved in its community, CommunityAmerica Foundation was launched in October of 2014. The Foundation was established to transform the lives of Kansas City families and help them attain long-term success and independence through financial literacy and empowerment. Its Foundation includes a signature program, Family Financial Transformations™. Specifically, the program aims to help selected families within CommunityAmerica’s field of membership become and remain self-sufficient and break the cycle of debt by teaching fundamentals for long-term success. By empowering families and changing lives, CommunityAmerica leaves an indelible, lasting mark. They, in turn, will pay it back to newer families entering the program.

In the first year, the credit union chose to partner with Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas. Together, CommunityAmerica co-authored a comprehensive and hands-on program that includes initiatives designed to move a family from agency dependency to self-sufficiency.

Catholic Charities provides a thorough application process to select families for the program and intense case management while CommunityAmerica staffers provide an in-depth, hands-on financial education program that consists of six sessions like Basic Budgeting, Plugging Budget Leaks, Understanding Credit & Identity Theft, The Dangers of Predatory Lending, Raising Money-Savvy Kids and Planning for Major Purchases.

In addition to the six-part financial education program for adults, CommunityAmerica wanted to develop a youth component as well in order to help break the cycle of debt for the next generation. Children of the participant families, ages eight-14, are able to attend classes that run simultaneously to the adult classes. Class topics for the youth include Goal Setting, Importance of Saving, Budgeting, Intro to Credit and Loans, Earning Money, and Entrepreneurship.

To date, 54 families have participated in the Family Financial Transformations program and CommunityAmerica is gearing up to begin their second year with Catholic Charities.

Captions (at right): Pictured are attendees of the Foundation's Family Financial Transformations. 

Electro Savings Credit Union received first place in the $50 - $150 million asset category for their Desjardins Financial Education Award (Adult) entry.

Electro Savings strives to be a leader in providing relevant financial education to assist people in navigating through a challenging world of financial products and a growing number of non-traditional financial service-providers. The credit union is proud to partner with community groups that offer job training and workforce development, such as Missouri Career Center, Better Family Life and MoKan to take the credit union to the people. Through these strategic partnerships Electro Savings is able to leverage the goodwill these organizations already have in the community to reach more people. Most of its seminars are held at partner facilities and promoted by the partner organizations to their users as a benefit of belonging to or using their services.

“Our products are financial services, but we are really in the people business,” says Stan Moeckli, Electro Savings President. “Our goal is simple, help people succeed in life by providing them practical life-skills.”

Between May 2014 and May 2015, Electro Savings held 90 financial education classes that reach 1,506 adult attendees on topics such as basic money management, credit improvement and family budgeting.

Caption (right): Electro Savings provides financial education to a local community group. 

Ozark Federal Credit Union received first place in the less that $50 million asset category for its Desjardins Financial Education Award (Youth) entry: Financial Literacy - Saving Money with Style.

This project could not have come to fruition without the collaboration of many local business leaders, education institutions, friends and staff of Ozark Federal Credit Union. The staff used the reality fair information provided by Missouri Credit Union Charitable Foundation and the Missouri Department of Economic Education as their guide. By recruiting local business leaders, law enforcement, charitable organizations, government officials, educational institutions and friends, Ozark Federal was able to bring the model to a whole new level. Tripling the vendors allowed them to reach out to several schools and counties at the same time. The number of vendors allowed a more realistic view of the budgeting process by adding the element of peer pressure and variety to the equation. The students learned to make more realistic transactions because the vendors, professionals in their field, educated each student on the decision process in their area.

“The Reality Fair is an incredible opportunity for students to learn critical life lessons which will give them a solid foundation for financial security as they approach adulthood," says Steve Halter, President of Poplar Bluff Industries and Greater Poplar Bluff Area Chamber of Commerce. "We are grateful for the leadership of OFCU and the support of the many business sponsors and PBR1 schools.”

Three workshops were created: Career Exploration, Customer Service and Money Does Not Grow on Trees to be taught on a smaller group scale. The workshops were geared to help the students, businesses, civil organizations, and the need based community groups identify their desired vocation, keep a job and manage their future income wisely. 

Zoe’s Blog - Saving Money with Style was a way to reach out to the community and give financial saving tips. Zoe is a three-pound teacup Yorkie Mascot that brings information in a friendly format. 

 Each outreach includes these four challenges:

  • Think- long and hard about what you want out of life.
  • Dream- about what you want. Let it become part of your fiber and being.
  • Believe- in yourself. Discover your learning style, filter system, and find a mentor to help you along the way.
  • Dare- to step out and challenge yourself obtain your goals.

It is an honor to have the support of the community that helped put these events on, and without their support, it would have never been possible. 

Caption (at right): Ozark Federal Credit Union staffers and community volunteers make a difference in the lives of students during a reality fair. 

United Credit Union received a first place award in the $100 - $200 million asset category for their Dora Maxwell entry:  Pack the Bus.

As a credit union, one of its primary focuses for its community is education. While its staff provides mostly financial education, it is by no means limited to that. A good education is the foundation to a responsible citizen who is then a building block for a strong community. United is committed to helping create those building blocks. They targeted three local elementary schools (1261 total students), a private school (151 total students) and a food distribution center (open to all Audrain County residents) to receive the donations collected. This is called “Pack the Bus.”

During United's “Pack the Bus” school supplies drive, the goal was to collect enough supplies to give to each of the three elementary schools in their town and to have extra to give to local organizations in need. They wanted to not only provide children with what they needed for classroom activities, but also to help teachers with the classroom supplies they needed that are typically expensed out of their personal funds. Donations of winter coats and tennis shoes were also asked for, as these are items that children come to school without.

Through the efforts of staff, United was able to collect 1,280 school supply items and an entire barrel of food for the Help Center. This was, once again, a way that the credit union could be “United” in giving back to our community.

Caption (at right): Pictured are United Credit Union employees with donations for students at local schools (McMillan Elementary, Hawthorne Elementary, Eugene Field Elementary). The picture on the left is a schoolhouse that the employees made of all the donations.