Hear ye, hear ye HERO subscribers!
We’ve added what we call a “practicum” to each of HERO’s training modules. The practicum helps users better understand and put what they’ve learned into practice. Whether it’s counseling a consumer, or providing advice to a family friend, the practicum—which comes just before the learning assessment in each module—helps lock in important concepts and helps make you (and your staff) more effective!
Consider it a nice little “birthday treat” for our one-year celebration.
And if you haven’t checked out HERO yet, this is just one more reason!
Get in touch to learn more.
One year ago this month, CU Strategic Planning, in partnership with the NCBA, launched HERO Counseling.
We want to take this opportunity to thank all our partners who are using HERO in credit unions and community banks. You are helping your members and customers by identifying their need, intervening, and coaching them. Not only are you improving their daily lives, you are making them more credit-worthy and better long-term customers.
What a deal!
So, truly: thank you to all our partners who joined us on the this journey!
The Miracle Makers at CU Strategic Planning
Congratulations to our HERO Contest Winner, Syracuse Cooperative Federal Credit Union!
Cooperative Federal recognizes that homeownership is a powerful tool for building assets and breaking the cycle of poverty. Cooperative Federal is able to help families of modest means by offering affordable mortgages, credit building, HUD-approved housing counseling, and down payment matching grants through their Matched Savings Program.
We found this story inspirational:
Two of their great employees are Kira Crawford (Matched Savings Coordinator) and Susan Hamilton (Mortgage Officer). Each of them collaborate to support first-time homebuyers, and one homebuyer they were able to help was Mary Mayom. A former refugee from Sudan, Mary had lived and rented a place in Syracuse for seven years but was finally feeling ready to lay down permanent roots in the city. However, as a part-time housekeeper who had fastidiously avoided debt, she had little savings and virtually no credit. But that all changed when Mary started working with Kira and Susan. Together, they opened an account for Mary, created a savings plan, and worked together to get Mary’s finances in shape so she would be able to qualify for a mortgage. Mary was able to qualify for a great, low interest rate and is now a homeowner (with a mortgage that is even less than what she was paying in rent!).
Stories like this helped Syracuse Cooperative Federal Credit Union receive complimentary licenses to HERO Counseling: Community Development Certified Financial Counseling. This award will help them continue their tradition of service to the community.
We’re profiling our runner-ups and winners of our HERO Contest on the blog. Yesterday we featured Jessie Coppernoll at Dane County Credit Union. And today it’s our other runner-up, Josh Williams at Kentucky Telco Federal Credit Union!
As a Branch Manager at Kentucky Telco Federal Credit Union, Josh works to help his clients utilize a small loans saving program.
A New Way of Thinking
When it comes to lending, Josh has come to change his way of approaching things. Josh saw so many people with no emergency savings and the need for small loans (at times, loans as small as $300). After seeing the same issues in his community over and over again, he worked to combine the small loans program into a savings program. How does it work? When a client gets a loan, they set up a payment schedule for 12 months instead of the normal 6— but the payment stays the same as it would be for 6 months. Half of the payments go into their savings account.
By the time a client is done paying for the loan, they have also started a savings account for emergencies and are also used to making a small deposit into it each month. Most of the time, people continue to make contributions to the account so they can continue to build up their savings accounts. It takes them seeing that even small deposits can add up, and it helps to give people a sense of security, too. Josh has worked with people of all ages so many of them have never saved a penny, and now they have an emergency fund they’re proud of. It’s been amazing for Josh to see how something so small can end up meaning so much to so many people.
Bringing Christmas to the Community
As the President of the local credit union chapter, Josh helps to deliver Christmas toys and presents to a local daycare that has a large need in the community. He also dresses up as Santa and spends an afternoon personally delivering toys and taking pictures with the kids. This past year, the organization helped provide a wonderful Christmas experience to over 80 children. Parents were also invited and many of them thanked the chapter and privately shared their story and how much it meant to them and their children to know that there is someone out there who cares.
Congratulations, Josh! We’ll write about the HERO Contest Award Winner on Monday!
In all the work of grant season last year, we forgot to blog about the runner-ups and winner of the Be a HERO Contest!
To refresh your memory, we asked to hear how employees, branches, or an entire credit union were a HERO to someone in their community. We’ll start with one of two runner-ups, Jessie Coppernoll!
Congratulations, Jessie Coppernoll at Dane County Credit Union!
As a skilled and caring loan officer, Jessie has a history of putting her clients first and going above and beyond. Everyone who knows Jessie knows that she will fight for anyone who will benefit from a loan!
One of the many times Jessie has gone the extra mile to help a client:
When Jessie heard about one member who had hit rock bottom, she asked what she could help her with. After being hit with a divorce, medical bills, electric bills, payday lenders, etc., the member had been told over and over again that there wasn’t much that could be done to help her situation. The member desperately needed help with her bills and a plan for making ends meet, and after taking a look at her finances, Jessie was able to help the member get back on track. She personally took a loan application to the lending manager and got a loan approved. Jessie explained that while they couldn’t get a loan for everything, the loan would help pay for rent, electric, allowing the member to keep her home while she sorted things out.
We’ll post on our next runner-up tomorrow!
In December, the NCUA’s Office of Small Credit Union Initiatives (OSCUI) announced that its next round of technical assistance grants will open up beginning February 3, 2014.
Every year the purpose of the NCUA’s OSCUI grants can change, for example, the summer grant cycle included categories for collaboration, computer modernization and new product and service development (among other categories). In exiting news for many of the credit unions we work with, the next grant cycle will focus on CDFI certification by providing $2,500 toward a credit union’s certification expenses for as many as 40 credit unions seeking CDFI certification.
What is a CDFI certification? Certification as a CDFI—or Community Development Financial Institution—can be given to a credit union, bank, loan fund, venture capital fund, microenterprise development loan fund, or even a community development corporation—a broader spectrum of financial service providers than just depository financial institutions—so long as the entity provides credit and financial services to underserved markets or populations.
The goal of a CDFI is to serve moderate to low income people and distressed communities lacking access to capital—which often aligns very nicely with the credit union mission. As a result, CDFI certification is a natural for many credit unions. More importantly, certification as a CDFI allows an organization to participate in the CDFI grant program—a program that has awarded more than $1.7 billion in grants since its creation in 1994.
The NCUA’s latest grant initiative reflects OSCUI’s drive to see that more credit unions become CDFI certified, become eligible for CDFI grant funds (up to $2 million per year!) and can better serve their members.
Remember, you need to be an NCUA low income designated credit union in order to be eligible for NCUA grants from the OSCUI. If you’re interested in exploring CDFI certification, contact CU Strategic Planning Director of Certification Services Carrie Ostrem (email@example.com) or President Stacy Augustine (firstname.lastname@example.org). CU Strategic Planning has a 100% success ratio with CDFI certifications!
Here’s an excerpt from another nomination.
Financial education is one of Unitus’ top priorities. Thanks to Money Quest, a six-week financial challenge, Unitus gave members clear financial goals, as well as the encouragement and support to achieve each one. Challenges included taking concrete steps to save money, pay down debt, establish a budget, strengthen credit scores, take part in financial education, and secure the right insurance coverage. Participants were assigned a Unitus counselor, who tailored each challenge to the individual and served as a financial coach. Unitus also incentivized participation by increasing the odds of winning an iPad Mini or $1,000 in cash for each challenge completed. Each week an email was sent out with the challenge for the week. Members could opt-in at any time during the six-week program and participate in as many challenges as they wanted.
The nominations are really rolling in! Nominate someone or an organization today! Just THREE days left!
(As a reminder, posting an excerpt here is to get you inspired about the kinds of people and programs that might make good nominations. Full contest rules are here.)