Judges Highlight 2010 Desjardins Standouts

Award-winning CUs serve as models for youth financial education.

December 16, 2010

The 2010 Desjardins Award recognition program received a record 58 state-winning entries from a record 30 states. Judges selected the best dozen as worthy of standing as models for credit union youth financial education efforts nationwide.

In evaluating the entries, judges considered how well-focused the submissions were. Judge Marty Kelly, senior vice president of marketing and development for $799 million asset US Federal Credit Union, Burnsville, Minn., advises future entrants to tell a story.

“The better entries were presented in a narrative style and succinctly told a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end,” he says. “The ‘scrapbook’ style entries were pretty to look at, but their primary messages were often lost in a sea of supporting data.”

2010 Desjardins Award Recipients

The Desjardins Award, sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), recognizes leadership within the credit union movement on behalf of youth financial literacy.

This year’s winners (asterisks indicate repeat award recipients):
• The Credit Union League of Connecticut
• Arapahoe Credit Union*, Centennial, Colo.
• Maine Credit Union League*
• Mission SF Federal Credit Union, San Francisco
• Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union*, Columbia, S.C.
• Travis Credit Union, Vacaville, Calif.

This year’s honorable mentions:
• A+ Federal Credit Union*, Austin, Texas
• Altra Federal Credit Union, Onalaska, Wis.
• Credit Union 1, Anchorage, Alaska
• DOCO Regional Federal Credit Union, Albany, Ga.
• Horizon Credit Union, Spokane Valley, Wash.
• Tinker Federal Credit Union, Oklahoma City

Winning entries will be on display during CUNA’s 2011 Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C. Find more information here.

Although all six Desjardins winners and six honorable mentions are exemplary, the judges want to call special attention to their favorites:

Credit Union 1

Pamela Owens, director of education and training for the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, cites $711 million asset Credit Union 1, Anchorage, Alaska, for using youth financial education to reach adults.

“Credit Union 1’s financial literacy program shows that with creativity and determination a new program can have a big impact,” she says. “They are already seeing the positive results of their first in-school branch, which began in 2009. Credit Union 1 has a model that works successfully because it engages all the important stakeholders: youth, parents, school officials, and teachers.

“The Credit Union 1 model of establishing a school-business partnership has reached many of the students and taught responsible money management and saving techniques for future goals,” Owens continues. “The added bonus of this financial literacy program is that the parents of the students are also now attending financial education classes, and many have opened savings accounts for their children.”

DOCO Regional FCU

Kelly believes DOCO Regional Federal Credit Union, Albany, Ga., ($145 million in assets) is an outstanding example of how to stretch a strained educational staff and budget.

“With limited resources, DOCO Regional Federal implemented a custom financial literacy program that directly affects more than 2,100 students in the Albany, Ga., community,” he reports. “Better yet, they purposely designed their program as a reusable resource with a viral quality—their initiative has the potential to reach more than 67,000 young people within their field of membership in the future.”

Marty says the credit union’s entry clearly and concisely outlined how its financial education initiative met the institution’s overall mission, overcame the hurdles of implementation, “and will continue to combat financial illiteracy for years to come.”

Mission SF FCU

Desjardins judge Donna Wagner, marketing director for $322 million asset Blackhawk Community Credit Union, Janesville, Wis., gives Mission SF Federal Credit Union in San Francisco high marks for motivating local children of low-income families to amass an average $400 in personal savings each.

She says “Mission SF Federal demonstrates a commitment to not only the cooperative philosophy, but innovative efforts for financial literacy in their community. The credit union’s Prize-Linked Account for Youth (PLAY) has led to media coverage and more awareness to the issue of youth financial literacy, and showcases its creativity.

With more than 300 savers under the age of 18 already on board, representing more than $120,000 in assets, the $6 million asset credit union gives back in a big way. By operating the largest child and youth asset development program in the Bay area, it offers one-on-one counseling, public events, and peer education.

“Mission SF Federal’s impact on youth and adults in the community is leading edge and offers very positive support,” Wagner says. “Through planning, commitment, and hard work, it was a finalist for a 2010 Innovative Idea Champion award program from the Corporation for Enterprise Development, which works at the local, state, and federal levels to create economic opportunities that alleviate poverty.”

PHILIP HECKMAN is CUNA’s director of youth programs. Contact him at 608-231-4088.