At Virginia Credit Union in Richmond, commitment to financial education comes right from the top.
A firm belief in the power of financial education to help members succeed led President/CEO Jane Watkins to seek out a trained educator to serve as the credit union’s first full-time director of financial education.
The commitment became a reality when Virginia Credit Union hired former public school teacher Cherry Hedges six years ago.
“I was attracted to Virginia Credit Union because of the vision it has for helping its members,” says Hedges. “I loved the idea of using my teaching experience to help people get ahead financially.”
The credit union offers week-long money camps for teens, an introduction to personal finance for college students, adult workshops in budgeting and reducing debt, and seminars for first-time home buyers.
Last year, Virginia Credit Union reached a new milestone when more than 12,000 people participated in its financial education programs. Young people accounted for two-thirds of the participants.
Effective financial education makes for smart, savvy consumers.
After Hedges worked with a local community college, an instructor recalled the way one of her students discussed home ownership in a final exam paper.
“Integrating new thinking about their future is the goal of this program,” the instructor wrote to Hedges. “I’m so pleased to see students asking questions and trying to take ownership over their adult finances.
Thank you again for bringing your knowledge and tools to our program.”|
Virginia Credit Union is the largest state-chartered credit union in Virginia with 220,000 members, 550 employees, and 16 branch offices. During the past 10 years, assets have more than doubled from $1.1 billion to $2.5 billion.
Education and empowerment for members and the community have been a key to the credit union’s success.
“Our sole purpose as a cooperative is to help our members be more successful,” says Watkins.
“That's why we put such a priority on financial education.”
“People are hungry for this,” says Watkins. “It took the recent recession for people to wake up and see how important it is.”