Michigan Leads the Nation for National Maxwell, Herring, and Desjardins Awards

Lansing, MI (November 1, 2012,) —  Six Michigan credit unions, the highest number from any state league, have achieved recognition at the national level with a total of seven awards for the 2012 Dora Maxwell, Louise Herring, and Alphonse Desjardins Awards.

Judging at the national level is done by CUNA, after each state league submits its first place entries in each asset size for consideration against entries from across the nation. CUNA judges then select first place, second place and Honorable Mention for the Maxwell and Herring awards, and first place and honorable mention for the Desjardins awards.

MCUL & Affiliates CEO David Adams saluted the winners, and stated that these awards reflect well on the Michigan credit union community as a whole. “We know that Michigan credit unions go above and beyond when it comes to serving their members and their communities, and they do it not in pursuit of awards or recognition, but because service is at the core of who they are,” Adams said. “These national awards are outstanding achievements for the credit unions who received them, and we are truly honored to be part of such an exemplary community.”

The Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award recognizes model credit union efforts to strengthen local institutions and materially improve the lives of nonmembers through community outreach programs other than personal finance education. This year, Michigan One Community CU and CASE CU were both awarded second place nationally in their respective asset sizes, and Credit Union ONE took first place at the national level.

Michigan One Community CU was recognized for its project called “Cool Communities Give,” which spotlighted nonprofits and local businesses in the Ionia area. During one day in the holiday shopping season, the businesses agreed to donate 10% of purchases to a nonprofit the shopper designated. Michigan One Community CU encouraged participation by setting up a gathering space for shoppers with activities and food, and a cash drawing for participating shoppers.

CASE CU received its award for the CASE Cares Miracle Baseball Field, which gives children and adults with disabilities a safe, inclusive space to play ball. The rubberized field is one of just three in the state. After several years of fundraising and work, the grand opening ceremony for the field took place in May 2012. In addition to ongoing support, CASE CU provided $25,000 in seed money to start CASE Cares, the foundation which oversaw the project.

Credit Union ONE submitted its first ever entry into this year’s Dora Maxwell awards, and it went straight to the top, taking first place nationally. The credit union was recognized for its work supporting FernCare, a nonprofit which provides health care services to the uninsured and underinsured. Credit Union ONE agreed to repurpose a building it was using for storage into a medical clinic, and leased it to FernCare with no rent charged. The credit union also donated cubicles, tables, desks, and chairs for employee and patient use in the facility.

The Louise Herring Philosophy-in-Action Award recognizes credit unions that demonstrate in an extraordinary way the practical application of credit union philosophy. This year Communicating Arts CU received second place at the national level for its entry, while Public Service CU and Michigan First CU both received the honorable mention award in their asset sizes.

Communicating Arts CU was recognized for its continued efforts to reach the underserved in Detroit, in particular through wealth-building programs like Save to Win, and a 10% APY one year CD, and through programs that help members avoid predatory lenders, including an auto lending program through which members can refinance a car loan where they owe more than the vehicle’s value, and payday loan alternative programs.

Michigan First CU was recognized for its highly successful Turning Point home loan program, which the credit union describes as a more welcoming lending solution for those who have had a negative event in their financial history. Through the program, qualifying members are able to receive mortgage loans, held on the credit union’s books, for which they might not have been otherwise eligible.  The program is designed to reach those who are, as the name implies, at a turning point in their lives, to give them the support they need to realize the dream of home ownership.

Public Service CU received its award for accomplishments at its Focus: HOPE branch. Focus: HOPE is an organization that aims to overcome poverty, injustice and racism, and in opening that branch, Public Service CU had to re-imagine its way of doing business by creating new products and services to reach the unbanked and underserved. The branch is located in a neighborhood with no other financial institutions and Public Service CU has been able to provide the community with an alternative to predatory lenders and educational opportunities that include financial literacy, credit repair, and budget creation.

Finally, CASE CU received a second national award, with an honorable mention for the Alphonse Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award. With a renewed approach to its financial education programs, the credit union was able to reach 2024 students across two counties during the 2011-12 school year. The new program included games and lesson plans, networking opportunities, youth club accounts, newsletters , and social media. CASE CU representatives were even called to testify at the Michigan state House of Representatives on the benefits and successes of youth financial education.

All of the national winners will be formally honored at a special ceremony and reception at the CUNA GAC in Washington on February 27, 2013. MCUL & Affiliates will also honor the state and national level winners at the AC&E in May 2013.

About the Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates
Organized in 1934, the Michigan Credit Union League is a trade association representing credit unions statewide. Based in Lansing, the MCUL offers credit unions assistance in the areas of regulatory compliance, legislative advocacy, media advocacy and operational information. For more information, visit and follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter at

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