Three New York credit unions were honored at the 2020 CUNA GAC this week, as the CUNA National Awards Committee presented the 2020 recipients of the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award, the Louise Herring Philosophy-in-Action Member Service Award and the Desjardins Awards for Financial Education. The awards, which are given in several credit union asset sizes, were selected among the winning entries at the state level.
CORE FCU, located in East Syracuse, and Alternatives FCU, located in Ithaca, were both honored with first-place Desjardins Awards, while Good Neighbors FCU, located in Buffalo, was a second-place recipient of the Desjardins Adult Financial Education Award.
The Desjardins Awards recognize credit unions, chapters and leagues for their commitment to both youth and adult financial literacy. The three credit unions previously earned first-place state-level recognition awards from the New York Credit Union Association.
CORE FCU has an established, well-developed student financial literacy program, but the credit union continued to add unique new initiatives as the program grew and developed. In recent years, the credit union expanded its highly regarded and effective youth financial literacy program by enhancing its peer-mentoring and creative student learning efforts; bringing new technology to their classroom lessons; adding new gamification to their initiatives; and facilitating a new student-taught finance initiative.
Alternatives FCU offers the Ithaca community a suite of financial literacy products geared toward adults: Financial Wellness; Business CENTS (Community Enterprise Networking and Training Services); Free Tax Preparation; and Lending and Credit Repair. The programs include free one-on-one counseling, realistic goal-setting, business consultations, networking events, tax preparation assistance, complimentary educational sessions, and more. In total, Alternatives devoted more than 18,000 hours to financial education in 2018 and reached more than 4,000 individuals.
Good Neighbors FCU has partnered for more than two years with a refugee resettlement agency, the International Institute of Buffalo, to bring financial literacy workshops to their clients. Every month, the credit union visits the institute to facilitate a two-hour workshop on financial literacy basics, which covers topics such as banks, credit unions, types of accounts, credit, and how to establish credit. In 2018, the credit union taught financial literacy to about 240 immigrants and refugees, about 40 of whom opened accounts with the credit union.