FORGING LASTING PARTNERSHIPS that guarantee access to financial literacy across Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas is Courtney Moran’s passion.
As executive director of the Dallas-based Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation, Moran and her staff train and build networks of financial educators—promoting the credit union industry while creating valuable community connections.
“Building relationships is a win-win for everyone,” Moran says. “It creates community partnership opportunities and increases the value of credit unions to the organizations we partner with.” The Foundation’s FOCUS financial education initiative brings together credit union officials, nonprofits, government agencies, churches, teachers, and others to improve financial literacy. They aim to build relationships and develop class curricula.
“The initiative has been hugely successful,” says Lois Kitsch, national program director for REAL Solutions at the National Credit Union Foundation.
Moran says the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation, which also provides professional development for credit union staff and volunteers, and disaster relief to credit union staff, has built a network of experts who serve as something of a “reference desk.”
For example, if school teachers need specialized help with a curriculum, they can call on those experts. Or, if a nonprofit needs help providing a financial literacy program, the network pitches in, sharing credit union know-how.
“We’ve forged community relationships that are a continuing resource in the communities our credit unions serve,” says Moran, who conducts “Train the Trainer” sessions for financial literacy in the Cornerstone region.
The one-day sessions prepare credit union professionals, educators, employees at nonprofit agencies, and community leaders to motivate young people to make wise financial choices.
“Consumers have a lot of information at their fingertips to help them make financial decisions, but it’s also easy to make mistakes,” Moran says. “After the recession hit in 2008, everyone was very careful with their finances. But in 2014, people have let their guard down.” The foundation sponsors a two-day FOCUS Summit on financial literacy, which NBC financial correspondent Jean Chatzky keynoted this year.
And it underwrites programs that educate school children and adults—including credit union employees—on financial matters.
“We encourage credit unions not to overlook their own employees. You’d be surprised at how many staff are going to predatory lenders,” Moran says.