For Northwest Credit Unions, “Financial Literacy Month” is a Year-round Commitment

Credit unions are going all-out to encourage students to save big-time during the “National Credit Union Youth Week” sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). April is also “Financial Literacy Month.” Given all of the attention on financial capability at this time of year, credit union public relations departments likely won’t be surprised to receive media requests for the opportunity to cover financial education outreach events.

But for Northwest credit unions, financial education is a year around priority with demonstrated results. A Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) canvas of credit union outreach finds an impressive honor roll:

  • OSU Federal shared financial education with nearly 14,000 people last year
  • SELCO reported touching the lives of 7,000 students with financial education
  • TwinStar educators reached more than 4,000 students
  • Kitsap and Spokane Teachers Credit Unions each taught to more than 3,000 students
  • OnPoint contributed $2.6 million to community projects in Portland last year, much of it focused on education
  • Oregon Community contributed $114,000 in scholarships
  • Whatcom Educational Credit Union has already contributed $27,000 to community causes this year with more than $7,000 directly benefitting financial education outreach

“Teaching others financial literacy is something I appreciate and love. Sharing that knowledge to enhance the lives of others is what drives me,” said Jared Dance, community development manager for TwinStar Credit Union. Dance visits classrooms in Washington and Oregon, helping children and young adults improve their financial capability. “Students are educated on the topics of balancing a checkbook, managing a budget, staying out of debt, and real-life scenarios of independent living,” he added.

More than 50 credit union professionals took time away from work to volunteer at two Financial Reality Fairs sponsored by the Northwest Credit Union Foundation (NWCUF) this spring. Taking place at both state capitols, the events helped high school students navigate an exercise in which they learned to live within their means—all as legislators witnessed the credit union “People Helping People” mission in action.

Credit unions’ financial education outreach not only fills gaps left by minimal state education requirements, it also leaves a lasting impression on students and teachers.

It was a great time to learn how to manage money and create a budget,” said a fifteen year old student who attended the Financial Reality Fair in Salem. “Seriously, it was awesome.”

“The fact that all of you were from the world outside of the schools AND you were giving students individualized one-on-one advice was priceless,” added that student’s teacher.

“I know that my financial outreach is making a difference,” said Teresa Shively, an education specialist at Gesa Credit Union in Richland, Wash. “I saw a student recently who attended my workshop. He was working at a local grocery store. He told me my message about saving made a huge impact. He had been saving for almost 1 year for a new exhaust system for his car; he finally had reached his goal and was very proud of his accomplishment. He did this by setting a goal and making smart choices. He remembered me after 1 year,” Shively added.

Fourteen Northwest credit unions sponsor in-school credit union branches. They are: First Tech Federal, Marion and Polk Schools (MaPs), Northwest Community, Rogue Federal, SELCO Community, St. Helens Community, Gesa, iQ, Kitsap, Sno Falls, Solarity, TwinStar and White River credit unions.

“From the classroom to the operations of the branches, students learn and share with their peers financial education as well as workplace and interpersonal skills,” said Cori Frauendiener, director of educational partnerships at MaPs. “Several hundred students have participated in the program over the years, and I have had the pleasure of watching them grow, learn and shine,” Frauendiener added. She has worked directly with students as a credit union educator for nearly two decades.

Credit union educators are also formally organizing events to share resources and ideas for effective credit union outreach. The Foundation and the NWCUA’s Financial Education Committee will offer two “Best Practice Roundtables” for credit union educators. The first event takes place June 25 at the NWCUA’s Federal Way training center. The second roundtable is scheduled for July 10 at Oregon Community Credit Union in Eugene. Both events are scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Agendas and registration links will be available to credit union professionals by the end of April.


Questions? Contact Lynn Heider: 503.350.2225,

Posted in Federal.