What Financial Health Means To Me

Credit unions are providing programs, products, and services to help households in need.

June 29 is the Center for Financial Services Innovation’s (CFSI) first annual #FinHealthMatters Day, with the goal to show what financial health means individuals across the country.

For credit union’s, improving the financial health of members is a key tenent of their operational strategy. And from what we’ve covered on CreditUnions.com to what we’ve heard around the industry, there are many different ways credit unions are working to accomplish this. Here are just a few.

Piedmont Advantage Credit Union


Piedmont advantage credit union
Data as of 03.31.16

  • HQ: Winston-Salem, NC
  • ASSETS: $328.4M
  • MEMBERS: 44,063
  • 12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 7.11%
  • 12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 6.05%
  • ROA: 0.42%

The credit union partners in running a camp for middle school and high school students in North Carolina called Aviation Career Education. Although a large portion of the camp covers aviation and aviation-related job opportunities, the credit union focuses its time with the kids discussing financial literacy and education. The credit union has grown impressed with the kids’ incoming knowledge of financial topics, especially the camper who described how a 401k worked. Read more here.

MECU of Baltimore Inc.

Most people who visit Baltimore don’t pay much attention to the elegant stone doorsteps that grace the entrances of so many city buildings. Constructed from white marble from nearby Cockeysville, this material is also used for all 555 feet of the Washington Monument as well as 108 pillars of the U.S. Capitol building.

Instead, visitors tend to focus on the marred formstone, the warped wood, and the peeling paint of these aging structures. They judge the foundational stone for its cracks, not for its resilience.


mecu of baltimore inc.
Data as of 03.31.16

  • HQ: Baltimore, MD
  • ASSETS: $1.2B
  • MEMBERS: 113,669
  • BRANCHES: 10
  • 12-MO SHARE GROWTH: -2.24%
  • 12-MO LOAN GROWTH: -5.16%
  • ROA: 0.57%

There certainly are cracks, but the Baltimore of drugs and crime made infamous through TV is only one side of reality for a city struggling to get back on its feet.

MECU of Baltimore, Inc., understands the city’s woes firsthand because of the parallels between the cooperative and the residents it serves. Although the city struggled with poverty, education, and drug-related crime, MECU contended with its own challenges, including a small asset size, outdated technology, limited services, and understaffed branches. The city and credit union both sought to grow and become financially solid, but only one of them MECU has succeeded so far.

See how MECU embraced Baltimore’s demographic challenges, increased its members’ financial stability, and provided a beacon of hope where others fell short in Thriving In A Troubled City.

Financial Literacy Among College Students

Financial literacy really is a must for young adults. However, some aspects of finance, such as building and keeping good credit, often aren’t taught young.

In the Council of Economic Education’s 2016 annual report, it was reported that only 17 states require high school students to take a course in personal finance. This lack of early education, of course, shows up later in life, according to a March 2016 survey from LendEDU, a student lending marketplace that also offers tools and tips on personal finance.

For its survey, LendEDU spoke with 668 current undergraduate and graduate students at two-year and four-year public and private schools. According to the survey, the results are startling, disturbing, and showcase the appalling level of financial illiteracy among our country’s brightest minds.

To learn more about the financially illiteracy of our nation’s university students, read Financial Literacy Among College Students And Reductive Millennial Reasoning.

Community First Credit Union

True to its name, Community First Credit Union is an advocate for the communities of Fox Valley. As a community-chartered credit union, Community First serves more than 80,000 members in 12 counties in northeastern and central Wisconsin. It is dedicated to promoting wellness in the communities it serves, from financial to physical and everything in between.


community first credit union
Data as of 03.31.16

  • HQ: Appleton, WI
  • ASSETS: $2.4B
  • MEMBERS: 122,471
  • BRANCHES: 25
  • 12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 12.10%
  • 12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 14.69%
  • ROA: 1.55%

There is a much broader social mission that we subscribe to as Community First Credit Union, says Catherine Tierney, president and chief executive officer of CFCU. Our members have the expectation that we’re not only here to serve their needs but to serve their broader needs the ones that exist aside from their finances. Everybody enjoys living and working in a place that is safe, that provides opportunities be they educational, be they through the arts, or even just helping those who need a helping hand and we’ve been able to become that. We do all of those things for and on behalf of the members of Community First.

To see how Community First is dedicated to promoting wellness in the communities it serves, from financial to physical and everything in between, read Mind, Body, And Wallet.

Dupaco Community Credit Union

One Iowa credit union has taken the movement’s mantra of people helping people to heart through a program that empowers people of limited means to save toward the purchase of a wealth-building asset and achieve self-sufficiency.


dupaco community credit union
Data as of 03.31.16

  • HQ: Dubuque, IA
  • ASSETS: $1.4B
  • MEMBERS: 90,776
  • BRANCHES: 19
  • 12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 4.95%
  • 12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 10.22%
  • ROA: 1.86%

Dupaco Community Credit Union established the Dupaco MoneyMatch program with the support and funding of both the Iowa Credit Union Foundation and the Dupaco R.W. Hoefer Foundation. The credit union helps participants in the program set up a special savings account called an individual development account, or IDA. The cooperative works with participants to establish a specific funding goal and supports them through regular financial education and coaching. Through partnership with the two foundations, savings are matched dollar for dollar up to an individual’s savings goal.

To see how Dupaco’s individual development account and broader network of support helps those in need build a solid financial foundation, check out Dupaco’s Moneymatch Program Gives Iowans A Leg Up On Financial Independence.

More Than A Campaign Pledge

Hot buttons in this year’s presidential election cycle include income inequality and the financial health of everyday Americans. Credit unions already do a lot when it comes to the latter, but they can do much more.

The Federal Credit Union Act, a product of the Great Depression, says credit unions exist to serve people of modest means. To many, that means low incomes. But it’s much more than that. Many people with steady jobs and decent incomes are just a payday away from financial disaster. See how credit unions can do more in Financial Wellness Is More Than A Campaign Pledge.

A Big Idea For 2016

Callahan partner Jay Johnson has 16 good reasons why financial wellness is a big idea in 2016.

Fifteen of those reasons are the 15 credit unions Callahan Associates is working with on a financial wellness initiative through its participation in the Credit Union Financial Services Limited Partnership (CUFSLP).

But the biggest reason is No. 16: Helping working American families achieve financial stability in their lives is the No. 1 way the credit union movement can show it is truly all about people helping people.

Read more in Financial Wellness Is A Big Idea For 2016.

Lakota Federal Credit Union

It’s hard to get a sense of the vastness of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Bounded by Badlands National Park to the north and the Nebraska border to the south, an estimated 26,000 residents live in or near small communities that dot the countryside.


lakota federal credit union
Data as of 03.31.16

  • HQ: Kyle, SD
  • ASSETS: $4.1M
  • MEMBERS: 2,402
  • 12-MO SHARE GROWTH: -22.08%
  • 12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 10.81%
  • ROA: 2.52%

The Pine Ridge Reservation is a true bank desert. The nearest bank, Security First, is 40 miles away from the center of the reservation in Martin, SD. First National in Gordon, NE, is 50 miles away. And except for a mobile banking van from Security First that made the rounds in parking lots across a few communities, Pine Ridge had never had a federally insured financial institution until Lakota Federal Credit Union opened its doors in 2013.

As the cooperative celebrates its third anniversary, a survey shows 31% of members have opened a savings account for the first time in their lives. Read more in The Role Of Lakota Federal Credit Union In A Banking Desert.

Kane County Teachers Credit Union

Fostering financial wellness among members at Kane County Teachers Credit Union has also helped the credit union heal itself.


kane county teachers credit union
Data as of 03.31.16

  • HQ: Elgin, IL
  • ASSETS: $213.9M
  • MEMBERS: 16,774
  • 12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 5.87%
  • 12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 25.96%
  • ROA: 0.43%

The suburban Chicago cooperative was losing money and members when Mike Lee left Alloya Corporate Credit Union to take the helm of struggling KCT in August 2013.

Lee brought his evangelical zeal for financial wellness and his passion for sales to bear, instituting a new member-service philosophy that centers on annual debt checkups and reigniting long-dormant relationships with its SEGs. Read more about this philosophy in A Strategy To Build Financial Wellness And The Bottom Line.

Patelco Credit Union

Based on its own research, Patelco Credit Union found that Americans are not planning ahead and are making poor financial decisions.


patelco credit union
Data as of 03.31.16

  • HQ: Pleasanton, CA
  • ASSETS: $5.1B
  • MEMBERS: 301,540
  • BRANCHES: 36
  • 12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 16.05%
  • 12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 17.62%
  • ROA: 0.75%

According to Melissa Morgan, senior vice president and chief retail officer:

  • 40% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck
  • 24% have less than $250 in their bank account
  • The millennial savings rate is -2%
  • Personal savings rates have dropped post recession

We’ve all seen the sobering statistics in terms of how fragile so many American families are, Morgan says.

To help meet that need, the credit union created products to help members meet short-, medium-, and long-term goals. Watch the Callahan webinar How Patelco Is Helping Members Achieve Savings Goals to learn more.

June 29, 2016

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