User login

Kansas, Missouri Credit Unions Receive 2015 CUNA Awards

The Heartland Credit Union Association (HCUA) congratulates all of the winners of the 2015 CUNA Awards. They were recognized at the annual Wegner Awards Dinner, which is hosted during the week of CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conference. This year's Kansas and Missouri winners included:

  • 1st Financial Federal Credit Union (Wentzville, MO)*
  • CommunityAmerica Credit Union (Lenexa, KS)*
  • Credit Union of America (Wichita, KS)
  • Electro Savings Credit Union (St. Louis, MO)
  • Ozark Federal Credit Union (Dexter, MO)
  • United Credit Union (Mexico, MO)*

The Awards Committee Chair, John Graham reported that this year there was a record-breaking number of entries and shared the committee was greatly impressed with the quality of submissions. Graham is the president/CEO of Kentucky Employees CU (Frankfort, KY). 

*Not pictured in group photo at right. 

Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award

Electro Savings Credit Union (St. Louis, MO) - 1st PLACE, $50 - $150 Million 

Electro Savings Credit Union has formed strategic partnerships with businesses and organizations to become a financial education leader in the community. Its feet-to-the-streets financial literacy and education efforts bring the credit union to the people. Working with the Missouri Career Center, the credit union provides clients a pathway to reintegrate into the workforce by offering life-skills training, including budgeting and credit reports. Electro Savings also presents “Ask the Experts” seminars geared toward member and nonmember small-business owners. Over a one-year period, the credit union reached 1,506 attendees through 90 sessions covering topics such as business plans, financing tips, QuickBooks, and marketing. During Money Smart Week, the credit union offered eight financial education seminars to 62 members and nonmembers. Electro Savings’ community development staff visit 49 apartment communities each month to inform the leasing staff of the importance of credit union membership and financial literacy. The credit union includes educational materials within new resident move-in packets it displays in clubhouse lobbies. Staff also visit at least quarterly with key personnel at about 30 community partners, including schools, city halls, churches, and other nonprofits. Each organization displays credit union information in its offices and, when appropriate, offers information in handouts to residents.

Caption: Pictured are Stan Moeckli, Jessica Young, Lisa Farnen, CUNA CEO Jim Nussle, and Howard Hiemann

CommunityAmerica Credit Union (Lenexa, KS) - 1st PLACE, More Than $500 Million 

CommunityAmerica Credit Union uses a multifaceted approach to teach financial fundamentals to adults. By facilitating 64 educational workshops for its select employee group (SEG) partners, community groups, and nonprofits, the credit union reached more than 770 adults in 2014. To further engage employees of its SEG partners, the credit union held special events such as hosting “money minute” tables in company cafeterias so employees could visit one-on-one with a financial coach and conducting a 60-day Financial Fitness Challenge, which featured activities to increase savings and decrease debt. The credit union also launched the CommunityAmerica Savings Challenge, a year-long promotion encouraging individuals in the community to save a total of $1,378 by year’s end. It participates in Money Smart Month, including the Money Smart Month Kick-off event for families.

Partnering with Olathe (Kan.) Head Start, it provides basic financial education for parents of children enrolled in Head Start, through workshops presented in English and Spanish. The credit union’s “Savin’ Mavens,” a group of staff members, discuss financial and consumer topics on regular segments on all four Kansas City TV network affiliates, resulting in more than 10 million impressions annually. One of the Mavens writes a popular weekly personal finance blog in The Kansas City Star’s “Dollars & Sense” section. Through a Twitter account that has attracted 1,600 followers, the Mavens feature personal finance tips. To expand its outreach to the underserved, the credit union established the CommunityAmerica Foundation. Its signature program, Family Financial Transformations™, works with a service organization to implement strategies enabling people to break the cycle of debt by learning long-lasting money management fundamentals. Each family partners with a CommunityAmerica financial coach to establish a positive financial relationship. In the first year, these families paid off more than $23,000 in debt and increased their savings by 48%.

Caption: Pictured is Rick Schier, of the CommunityAmerica Foundation. 

Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award

Ozark Federal Credit Union (Dexter, MO) - 1st PLACE,  Less Than $50 Million 

Ozark Federal Credit Union demonstrated its strong commitment to financial literacy by hosting five Reality Fairs and presenting a series of three workshops, delivering financial education to about 3,600 individuals.   At its Reality Fairs, the credit union added an extra measure of “reality” by working with local merchants to staff the events. Students purchased a vehicle from a car salesman, a home from a real estate agent, and so on, which taught them negotiating skills. When students overspent, they had to pay a restocking fee to show the depreciation factor of a purchase. The credit union recruited the spouse of a state senator to play the role of “Fickle Fate,” handing out cards bearing financial emergencies.

Ozark Federal makes available three seminars—Career Exploration, Customer Service, and Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees—to teach school-age, college, and vocational students about finances. Developed to assist students identify a career, learn how to keep a job, and manage their money wisely, the credit union presented the workshops in classrooms as well as in homeless shelters, drug court, need-based venues, and businesses within its field of membership. To bring awareness to financial literacy on Facebook, the credit union created Zoe’s Blog—Saving Money with Style. Zoe, a three-pound Yorkie, helps parents find ways to save and enjoy life without feeling left out. To promote its youth savings accounts, the credit union rewards students with $5 every time they make the A or B honor roll.

Caption: Pictured are Chad Wolfram, CUNA CEO Jim Nussle, Davine Conover, and Kirk Mondy. 

Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award

United Credit Union (Mexico, MO) - 1st PLACE, $100 - $200 Million 

United Credit Union provided 1,280 items for children in need, more than double the amount collected the previous year. Its “Pack the Bus” event generated donations of school supplies and nonperishable food for four area elementary schools and a food pantry. The credit union coordinated with principals to determine each school’s specific student needs, with the goal of allowing children to focus more on their education. At the end of the collection period, United hosted a “Pack the Bus Summer Fun Event,” providing kids a safe place to enjoy a few activities while giving everyone a last opportunity to bring in donations. The credit union garnered food donations for the event and sponsored a bounce house, dunk tank, yard games, and train rides around the credit union. United is involved in other community events, including sponsoring a fullscale tractor pull to raise funds for Relay for Life of Audrain County—and won a “Heart of the Relay” award for its efforts. 

Credit Union of America (Wichita, KS) - HONORABLE MENTION, $500 Million - $1 Billion

Credit Union of America celebrated 40 years of business in Great Bend, a small farm community, and its 80th anniversary as a credit union by giving back. The credit union invited members and nonmembers to enter its 40 days, 40 winners contest. Entrants submitted their information and selected a charitable/nonprofit group from a provided list. Winners received $40 for each year they’ve been a Credit Union of America member, while nonmembers or members for one year or less received $40. Their chosen nonprofit group received a matching donation. At the end of the promotion, the credit union hosted a reception for the nonprofits and announced a $46,320 donation match. For its 80th anniversary, the credit union extended the contest to 80 days. Twelve winners—one for each branch— received 46-inch televisions. Entrants voted for one of five nonprofits. The credit union awarded the top three vote-getters $5,000, $3,000, and $2,000 donations, respectively. The fourth- and fifth-place groups received $500 each.

Caption: Pictured are Lee Ann Gabbert, Eileen Phelps and Bob Thurman. 

CommunityAmerica Credit Union (Lenexa, KS) - 2nd PLACE, More Than $1 Billion 

CommunityAmerica established the CommunityAmerica Foundation to help low-income families attain long-term success and independence through financial literacy and empowerment. The foundation’s signature program, Family Financial Transformations™, seeks to break the cycle of debt by teaching financial fundamentals and providing in-depth coaching. CommunityAmerica offers a six-session, hands-on financial education program as well as a financial coach who helps participants stay on track. In the first cohort, 14 families reduced their combined debt by more than $23,000 and increased their collective savings by 48% in a four-month span. 

Louise Herring Philosophy-in-Action Member Service Award

1st Financial Federal Credit Union (Wentzville, MO) - 2nd PLACE, $50 - $250 Million 

1st Financial partnered with S.L.A.T.E., the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment, to ensure youth employed through a summer jobs program would gain financial education and empowerment. Because many of S.L.A.T.E.’s participants typically wouldn’t qualify for free checking due to their age or lack of credit, the credit union created a Youth Summer Employment Account. This special account includes free checking and savings accounts, online access, direct deposit, free debit cards, no overdraft fees on debit purchases, and comprehensive financial education. In 2015, 1st Financial opened 812 new accounts for youth. More than 1,000 St. Louis youth have received financial literacy education through this program.