Advancing Communities stories highlight Financial Well-Being for All

April 21, 2022

CUNA continues its call for credit unions to submit their stories to the Advancing Communities website, especially during April’s National Credit Union Youth Month and Financial Literacy Month. Many credit unions have done so already, using the site to highlight the many ways they’ve responded to member needs.

The campaign aims to educate lawmakers about the credit union difference through the stories. The website also includes data on how credit unions are serving their communities.

"Financial Literacy Month is the perfect time for credit unions to share with lawmakers how they are developing programs specifically designed to serve the financial well-being of their members” said Adam Engelman, director of federal and grassroots programs at CUNA. 

Evergreen Credit Union, South Portland, Maine, submitted their video to Advancing Communities because it wanted to share their programs, and also how they were created by paying attention to things affecting their members.

“It was important to Evergreen Credit Union for us to invest in programs to help members improve their financial wellness. Once established, we were out in the communities we serve, always looking for new ways to expand upon financial literacy education,” said Brenda Pollock, membership development and financial counselor at Evergreen Credit Union.

“When an organization truly is customer centric, they invest in these types of programs that may not offer an immediate return on investment but the bigger picture looks like this: Increased referrals, member loyalty includes trust, and word of mouth in the community spreads,” she added.

Evergreen Credit Union launched programs to combat senior scams, created a board game titled to help high school students learn to budget, and started a program for employers to offer free financial services to employees.

It also has a “Your Money 101” book available to all members via electronic or paper copy.

Chris Wolgamott, director of financial well-being at Meritrust Credit Union, Wichita, Kansas, said the credit union’s efforts are designed ensure members always have access to safe and affordable products and services. Meritrust submitted a video detailing their numerous programs and how they benefit members.

“We’ve helped members realize the possibility of getting a home loan when they thought it was impossible, of falling back on more than payday loans when they have an emergency and being able to purchase reliable and affordable transportation,” he said. “It’s not just our members, but our employees, that we helped as well, through financial wellness classes, book clubs, and one on one financial counseling.

Mountain America Credit Union, Sandy, Utah, submitted a story highlighted the growth of its financial education programs and resources over the past year. Mountain America’s Financial Guides program is a free service offered regardless of membership.

More than 2,500 individuals have received free, one-on-one financial coaching sessions since March 2021.

“We came up with the idea of offering one-on-one coaching in the midst of the pandemic because we saw a chance to innovatively approach providing help and education on a more personalized level,” said Jason Rogers, senior vice president and chief member service officer at Mountain America Credit Union. “Not only do they get help identifying their financial dreams, but they’re also learning important money-management skills.”

Mountain America’s Financial Education team gave over 350 free financial education presentations to nearly 13,000 attendees and engaged nearly one million members of the public with free financial education resources, including podcasts, blog posts, financial education games, live presentations and more.