Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation’s FOCUS Summit to feature celebrated American teacher Erin Gruwell

PLANO, TX (January 23, 2017) — Erin Gruwell, American teacher and author of The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them, will headline this year’s Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation FOCUS Summit. The 2007 film Freedom Writers is based on Gruwell’s story.

Gruwell’s rise to celebrity began in 1994 while teaching English to 150 at-risk students in Long Beach, Calif. With the use of her engaging teaching techniques, 100 percent of her students, affectionately known as the Freedom Writers, graduated from high school. The young graduates then became co-authors of the New York Times bestselling book, The Freedom Writers Diary, and further exceeded expectations by pursuing higher education and advanced degrees. In order to replicate the success she had with her students, Gruwell and the original Freedom Writers founded the Freedom Writers Foundation.

The Foundation is hosting the FOCUS Summit on March 30-31, 2017, at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel near the Galleria in Dallas. Open to all credit union professionals, community leaders and educators, this two-day event is an opportunity for financial education advocates to network, share best practices, learn about available resources, and explore proven techniques and strategies for deploying financial education into their local schools and communities.

Also speaking at the conference are Sue Ellen Alpizar and Stephanie Sample, two of Gruwell’s Freedom Writers; Dr. Steve Happell, emeritus professor of economics at Arizona State University; Lee Wetherington, director of Strategic Insight; Dr. Carly Urban, assistant professor of economics at Montana State University; Gigi Hyland, executive director of the National Credit Union Foundation; and a representative from the Center for Financial Services Innovation.

Foundation FOCUS is a collaborative initiative that allows the Foundation to diversely impact communities. As part of Foundation FOCUS, the Foundation created the Foundation FOCUS Network, people working together to improve the financial well-being in their communities, from preschool to adulthood.

For additional information about the summit, including online registration, please visit If you have any questions, please contact the Foundation at 800-953-8283.

About Cornerstone League

Cornerstone League is among the nation’s largest regional credit union trade associations, serving approximately 700 credit unions in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. Cornerstone exists to advance the success of credit unions in the region through legislative and grassroots advocacy; regulatory and compliance support; training, educational, and networking opportunities; essential communications related to news and information affecting the credit union industry; and other products and services that establish Cornerstone as the essential partner for credit unions. For more information, visit  

About the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation

The Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation is the 501(c)(3) public charity of the Cornerstone Credit Union League. The Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting financial education programs for youth and adults, providing access to professional development for credit union staff and volunteers, and offering financial relief for credit union staff when disaster strikes. The Foundation receives financial support from credit unions, corporate partners, individuals, the Cornerstone Credit Union League, Credit Union Resources, Inc., scholarships, and grants from other foundations. For more information about the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation, please visit


Tanya Dittberner

Director, Communications and Media Relations

Cornerstone League

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