College Comrades

Local colleges and universities offer partnership opportunities that extend beyond traditional affinity relationships and select employee groups.

There are more than 4,500 degree-granting, Title IV, two-year and four-year colleges in the United States, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education. Each of those institutions represents an opportunity to build relationships that strengthen credit unions and the communities in which they operate. There are many ways to do it, and that’s what this week on CreditUnions.com is dedicated to.

When David DeWitt, vice president of risk management at Massachusetts-based Digital Federal Credit Union, first heard about Boston University’s In-House Counsel Fellowship Program, he knew immediately that it presented a great opportunity to see whether DCU could benefit from in-house legal assistance.

The program, started by BU’s School of Law in 2012, places law students and graduates into one-year fellowships with commercial corporations and nonprofits. Fellows who are more interested in becoming an in-house counsel than practicing with a law firm get to try out their business and transactional law education in a real-world setting; companies get to test whether they have enough work to keep an in-house attorney busy.

It was originally introduced as an opportunity for us to address all the new regulatory requirements and consumer regulations coming down that were presenting a challenge to credit unions on the compliance front, DeWitt says. Learn more in A Strategy To Test The Need For In-House Counsel.

Small business is a growing business for Community First Credit Union of Florida, helped along by its partnership with the University of North Florida. When the Jacksonville-based credit union ramped up business services five years ago, it established an informal referral relationship with the school’s Small Business Development Center.

The credit union sends budding business people to the center for workshops, roundtables, and training that includes everything from creating business plans to blogging and social media. In return, the SBDC sends potential small business borrowers to the credit union.

Members want low- or no-cost training, guidance, and best practices on growing their businesses and becoming better entrepreneurs, and the SBDC has the knowledge and experts that make it the perfect place for such guidance, says Susan Verbeck, senior vice president of lending at Community First. Read more about that symbiotic relationship in How A Florida Credit Union Mixes Business With Business.

To recruit younger members from the Southeast Wyoming and Northern Colorado communities it serves, Warren Federal Credit Union embraces its motto: What matters to you, matters to us!

The credit union wants to partner with others who share the same core values, and aligning with universities is a perfect fit, says Michele Bolkovatz, community relations manager,in regard to Warren’s partnerships with Colorado State University and the University of Wyoming.

In addition to offering products like checking accounts, reloadable debit cards, and certificates which all help accountholders better manage their money the credit union helps prepare students for life after college by focusing on money management skills. It does this through formal classroom programs as well as a creative take on the Discovery television show Cash Cab. Learn more in Educational Partnerships Build Loyalty.

TDECU Stadium is the 40,000-seat home of the University of Houston’s Cougar football team. But even before the stadium opened its doors for its inaugural game on August, 29, 2014, Lucilla Henderson, vice president of community relations and business development at TDECU, saw a new way to build brand awareness and underscore the credit union’s community commitment.

Getting naming rights to the stadium was an incredible way to engage with this university we knew was growing and become more impactful in the higher education community, Henderson says.

The credit union estimates it has received more than $22 million in earned media on the stadium. But the stadium’s name is only one piece of a larger relationship the Texas credit union is building with its hometown university. Learn more today in More Than A Name.

June 22, 2015

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