CU Development Education (DE) Program Celebrates 30 Years

Christopher Morris

Alumni of Foundation’s CU Philosophy Training Gather at Special Workshop in San Diego

Madison, Wis. – Thirty certified Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) gathered in San Diego, Calif. recently to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Credit Union Development Education (DE) Program. The popular philosophy training program from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) started in 1982 and continues to educate credit union professionals from around the world every year.

A special 30th anniversary reception was held during the annual DE Workshop for CUDEs that took place June 20-22, 2012 in conjunction with Credit Union National Association’s America’s Credit Union Conference. The workshop also featured sessions on innovation, immigration issues, sustainability, Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), advocacy, young adults, panel discussions on notable activities/projects by CUDEs, and updates on the DE Program. Graduates of the DE Program (or CUDEs) in attendance were from training sessions ranging from the first year in 1982 to the most recent training in April, 2012.

“It was an outstanding workshop and what an opportunity to renew old friendships, make new friends, reflect on the beginnings and see how far the DE Program has come,” remarked Susan Luke, Owner of Luke Communications Group and a graduate of the first DE Training in 1982. “We never dreamed the program would evolve in the way it has and what an awesome group of dedicated credit union volunteers and professionals it has grown to be. I feel privileged to continue to be a part of all that the DE program stands for such as integrating credit union philosophy and the cooperative principals in everything we do!”

“I have attended many conferences and workshops over the past 18 years but none compare to DE Training,” noted Ruben Cisneros, Chief Operations Officer at Border FCU and a graduate of DE Training in April, 2012. “It wasn’t until I attended this remarkable program that I truly realized we are part of a movement. It’s a movement with social values that I strongly believe in and have applied after attending DE Training. I would challenge anyone with a desire to achieve success in the movement to attend the program as it will open your eyes and will strengthen your desire.”

“I was awestruck by the difference in the talent and position levels between early CUDEs and more recent graduates,” said Barbara Main, President of Main Communications and a co-founder of the DE Program. “The projects and activities that newer CUDEs are tackling and accomplishing are so incredible that I am heartened with the future of the DE Program. It’s exciting to know that millions of credit union members will reap the benefits of CUDE contributions, and it certainly underscores the value of the DE Program.”

The DE program began in 1982 with a grant to the CUNA Foundation, now known as the National Credit Union Foundation, from the U.S. Agency for International Development (U.S. A.I.D.). At the time, Senators Biden and Pell sponsored legislation which allocated $1 million annually to be used by private voluntary organizations in the United States to fund programs that educate the U.S. public about major development issues related to hunger and economic development, primarily in developing countries. Eighty-eight programs received funding over time, but the Credit Union Development Education Program is the only one still in existence.

“For thirty years the DE Program has stayed true to its original intent and has been instrumental in increasing the awareness and support of international credit union development efforts, which has helped to strengthen credit union movements in other countries and the services offered to members everywhere,” noted Lois Kitsch, National Program Director for the National Credit Union Foundation. “The DE program is currently thriving and it’s sure to continue for another thirty years given the program’s critical lessons in cooperative principles and credit union philosophy.”

Upcoming DE Training

The next DE Training will be held at the Lowell Center in Madison, Wis. on September 6-13, 2012 and is already sold out. However, there are two trainings scheduled for 2013 with the first taking place on May 1-8, 2013. Anyone who is interested in attending training in 2013 can email to be put on a list to be notified when registration is open.

During the week-long program, participants are involved in group exercises, field trips, encouraged to ask questions of visiting speakers, and are required to complete team projects proposing solutions for credit unions to help alleviate or eliminate challenging situations in any given area.

More about the DE Program:
The mission of the Credit Union Development Education (DE) program is to promote credit unions’ social responsibility and domestic and international development through interactive adult education and professional networking. By linking credit unions’ past and present, the DE program brings renewed relevance to credit unions’ seven cooperative principles and the philosophy of “People Helping People.”

Over the past 30 years, more than 1,000 credit union advocates from over 30 countries have graduated from DE Training to become Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs).  Once they earn their CUDE designation, people return to their jobs with a sense of personal enrichment and renewed energy to share what they have learned.  This growing corps of credit union advocates devotes professional and volunteer time to spreading the credit union message to audiences throughout the country.

The National Credit Union Foundation is the primary sponsor of the DE program.  Support is provided by CUNA Mutual Group, the Credit Union National Association, the World Council of Credit Unions, state foundations and leagues.

For more information on the DE program, visit under Foundation Programs.

About the National Credit Union Foundation (
The National Credit Union Foundation is the US credit union movement’s primary national philanthropic program provider, fundraiser and grant-maker. Through NCUF grants and programs, credit unions provide widespread financial education, create greater access to affordable financial services, and empower more consumers to save, build assets, and own homes.

NCUF is funded primarily by investments in the award-winning Community Investment Fund (CIF) and by generous Corporate Supporters led by the Credit Union National Association and CUNA Mutual.  All NCUF donors provide support that empowers NCUF and state credit union foundations to make financial freedom achievable through credit unions.

The National Credit Union Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization. NCUF continues to earn the Better Business Bureau seal of approval as an “Accredited Charity” for meeting all 20 BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards for national charities.

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