(March 11, 2008 – New York, NY) Thanks to the support of a group of prominent, large credit unions, dozens of CDCUs today offer BALANCE, a widely respected national financial counseling and education service, to their members at no cost.
The initiative was inspired by Jim Blaine, CEO of State Employees’ CU of North Carolina, who brought together a group of the Federation’s Community Development Partners to fund the bulk of the cost of providing BALANCE to small CDCUs nationwide. America First FCU (Ogden, UT), Andrews FCU (Suitland, MD), Boeing Employees CU (Seattle, WA), GTE FCU (Tampa, FL), Navy FCU (Vienna, VA), Orange County Teachers FCU (Santa Ana, CA), Patelco CU (San Francisco, CA), Suncoast Schools FCU (Tampa, FL), and Truliant FCU (Winston-Salem, NC) all helped launch the program in early 2007.
The first-year results were extremely encouraging, according to Pamela Owens, the Federation’s Director of Education and Training: more than 40 credit unions participated during the year, and over 1,000 CDCU members were served. “Now that CDCUs are becoming familiar with the program, we expect the numbers to begin growing dramatically,” Owens said.
“We decided that BALANCE is such a valuable benefit to our members, that we will make it one of our core services, without outside subsidy,” said Cliff Rosenthal, the Federation’s CEO. “This was really a model collaboration for us: our Community Development Partners helped us launch it, and now we’re able to continue it on our own.”
Teri Portillo, CEO of Women’s Southwest FCU (Dallas, TX) explained how the program has helped her members: “Some people don’t want to or can’t come into the credit union and talk to us about their finances, and this program allows members to discuss their financial issues with someone truly anonymous, on their own time.” The arrangement also benefits CDCUs themselves, since it relieves some of the labor-intensive work that strains their small staffs, and allows them to reach even deeper into their membership.
“We are grateful to BALANCE for structuring an arrangement that offers the service to all Federation-member CDCUs under $35 million in assets at no cost – an increase from last year’s offer to CDCUs under $25 million in assets – and at a substantial discount for larger CDCUs,” said Rosenthal. The majority of the Federation’s 232 member credit unions will qualify for the service at no cost.
In addition to traditional financial counseling, BALANCE also offers foreclosure prevention advice and debt consolidation, which have become increasingly valuable to credit union members who might be struggling with problems brought on by predatory lending practices and the current sub-prime lending crisis.
CDCUs interested in participating in this special program should contact Dan Apfel, Program Associate at (212) 809-1850, ext. 220 or email@example.com. Additional information is available by clicking here, or at: www.balancepro.org/nationalfederation.