National Study Shows NW Credit Unions Deeply Involved in Providing, Promoting Financial Education

A report published by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) and Real Solutions shows that credit unions in 2011 invested $140 million to provide 22.1 million members with access to financial counseling and advice. Much of that education involved structured, formal presentations to youth and young adults.

Citing information from the previous year, the NCUF reported that credit unions also made at least 24,000 individual presentations in 2010 that reached more than 609,000 students.

“Credit unions put their money where their mouths are when it comes to financial education,” said Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) CEO John Annaloro. “Because having a smart membership that understands basic principles of living a healthy financial life contributes to the prosperity and financial health of the credit union, the entire Northwest credit union system supports financial education.”

While not every credit union participated in the report, those that did reported significant activity in financial education outreach. According to the report, between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, 2011, Washington credit unions reached 3,548 students. In Oregon, the number was 2,894.

Several Northwest credit unions and efforts that successfully began in the Northwest are featured as case studies in the new report, including:

  • Emmy Award-winning PBS program “BizKid$,” which will go into syndication in 2013;
  • Rogue Federal Credit Union’s High School Student Branch program;
  • Cumulative efforts by Oregon credit unions to educate youth on financial topics;
  • Washington’s credit union support of a Financial Education Public Private Partnership (FEPPP);
  • Oregon and Washington Credit Union Foundation efforts to support financial education.

And this is just a sampling of the financial education efforts by Northwest credit unions. Washington credit unions support at least 24 in-school branches. Oregon’s credit unions boast 28.

The report makes clear that most successful credit union financial education programs share many characteristics, including integrating financial education into every available touch point; providing specialized tools and content for selected market segments, such as children, adults, and seniors; and utilizing partnerships. The most common financial education partners for credit unions are schools, community groups, financial literacy groups and other credit unions.

And just last week, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed three proclamations officially recognizing:

  • Feb. 19-26 as Washington Saves Week as part of America Saves Week
  • April as Financial Literacy Month
  • April 21-18 as Money Smart Week

“Washington and Oregon are fortunate to have strong public, private business and government support of financial education efforts,” Annaloro said. “Considering the economic bust we are still experiencing, there is ample evidence that not-for-profit credit unions are one of a handful of business sectors with the credibility, experience and passion to deliver effective financial education.”

In the Washington legislature, a bill supported by Washington FEPPP, which includes the state’s credit unions, would place financial education in line as a high school graduation requirement. House Bill 2268 received its first hearing in the Education Committee on Jan. 23, 2011. The bill is sponsored by Reps. Jan Angel, R-26, Larry Haler, R-8, Hans Zeiger, R-25, Chris Reykdal, D-22, Jeannie Darneille, D-27, Troy Kelley, D-28, Laurie Jinkins, D-27, and Mark Hargrove, R-47.

Read the full NCUF/Real Solutions Report on credit union financial education efforts.
Read the Oregon supplemental report.

Read the Washington supplemental report.


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