4 MN credit unions recognized nationally for excellence, innovation

ST. PAUL, MN (November 25, 2013) — Displaying the commitment of the state’s credit unions to improving communities and members’ livelihood, four Minnesota credit unions have been nationally recognized in the 2013 Dora Maxwell, Louise Herring and Desjardins Financial Education awards. National award winners were recently announced by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

Award entries from Greater Minnesota Credit Union in Mora, St. Paul Federal Credit Union in St. Paul, TopLine Federal Credit Union in Maple Grove and US Federal Credit Union in Burnsville moved on to the national competition for these awards programs after receiving first place honors in statewide competitions held earlier this year.

“These credit unions all demonstrate extraordinary dedication to helping members and communities move toward a better and brighter financial future,” said Mark D. Cummins, MnCUN President & CEO. “Their recognition in these award competitions is well-deserved, and I applaud their efforts to improve financial literacy in their local communities.”

The credit unions, the national award each received and a summary of their award-winning initiatives are below.

  • TopLine Federal Credit Union

First place ($150-$500 million asset category)

Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award

TopLine FCU created an initiative called “Get Smart with Your Money,” which is an ongoing education effort in St. Paul and Minneapolis schools. Through seminars targeted at various age groups, the credit union encourages students and parents to start conversations regarding spending, saving and sharing money wisely. TopLine also works with teachers and nonprofits to further educate students of all ages on the importance of saving and good financial management.

  • Greater Minnesota Credit Union

Second place ($50-$150 million asset category)

Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award

Greater Minnesota CU started a program called “Financial University,” which offers job-seeking adults help in gaining financial freedom, knowledge in budgeting and other money management skills, as well as credit dos and don’ts. Lessons are taught through a series of classes and training materials. The credit union also offers a free financial management service to its members called Accel Members Financial Counseling.

  • TopLine Federal Credit Union

Second place ($150-$500 million asset category)

Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award

TopLine FCU created a variety of free seminars offered on a monthly basis to assist new credit union members. Topics covered included mortgage, investment and small business assistance, as well as financial counseling. The credit union also partners with North Hennepin Community College and Keystone Community Services to provide seminars and programs to adults who want to further their education in the personal finance field. TopLine also works with Hennepin Technical College and its GEAR UP grant program to educate students about college preparation.

  • US Federal Credit Union

Honorable Mention (>$500 million asset category)

Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award

US FCU developed and implemented an initiative for their members called “Financial Check Ups.”  This free program encourages members to review their personal finances and expenditures with the credit union’s financial professionals. US FCU staff work with members to look over their financial records and history, and members are advised on personal spending and budgeting improvements. Financial Check Ups are also used as a benefit of US FCU’s Learn@Work program. Members are able to choose from more than 30 free seminars on money management tools and techniques.

  • St. Paul Federal Credit Union

Honorable Mention ($50-$250 million asset category)

Louise Herring Philosophy-In-Action Award

St. Paul FCU, through the opening of its student-run credit union at Como Park High School, has created several programs to benefit both underclassmen and college-bound seniors. Using classroom sessions and participation at the in-school branch, students have been able to improve their financial literacy and saving techniques. The credit union also provides work-based learning and internship opportunities, conducts classroom presentation on financial management and offers educational scholarships to Como Park students.

The entries from these Minnesota credit unions were among hundreds of other submissions from credit unions across the country to CUNA for national consideration in each award program. All national winning entries will be on display at CUNA’s 2014 Governmental Affairs Conference, Feb. 23-27 in Washington, D.C.  The award winners will be honored during a special Feb. 26 reception.

CUNA President and CEO Bill Cheney also publicly recognized the winning credit unions recently, saying: “Early this year, we unveiled our ‘Unite for Good’ initiative, which urges credit unions to come together toward the establishment of a shared strategic vision: ‘Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner. The winners of this year’s awards are among the vanguard of credit unions that are already pursuing this shared agenda – by employing the credit union philosophy, and by taking on social responsibility projects. My congratulations and thanks to all who have been honored this year.”

The Awards Programs

The Louise Herring Philosophy-In-Action Member Service Award is given to credit unions that demonstrate the internal application of credit union philosophy to help better financial matters and increase financial education for its members. Examples include exceptional member service, financial counseling for members experiencing difficulties, and educating members on the credit union difference. 

The Desjardins Youth and Adult Financial Education Awards are named for Alphonse Desjardins, the founder of the North American credit union movement, and recognize the leadership of credit unions and chapters to help improve financial literacy among youth and adults.

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