News & Information

2016 Desjardins Awards honor four for financial education

by Christine Henzig, Director of Communications Sep 06, 2016
Desjardins Award

Join us in honoring four Wisconsin credit unions for excellence in financial education. 

The award is named in honor of Alphonse Desjardins, the founder of the North American credit union movement. Desjardins established the first "caisse populaire," or people’s bank, in Quebec in 1900 and helped establish the first American credit union in New Hampshire in 1909.

Separate awards for 2016 honor their:

Adult Financial Education

  • Summit Credit Union, Madison - Tie for First place ($1 billion+ in assets). The Credit Union's Project Money competition challenges participants to work with a financial coach over seven months to reduce debt, increase savings and improve financial habits to win cash prizes. Their efforts are shared online, in print, on TV, via a workplace wellness program and presentations at hundreds of community events. Collectively, 28 participants have increased savings by $218,495 and decreased debt by $305,549. This is just one program the credit union touts as a community wealth builder; it also works closely with teachers and local employers

  • CoVantage Credit Union, Antigo - Tie for First place ($1 billion+ in assets). The credit union's self-designed FIT Money program has been used to help adult members learn financial essentials and has been shared with community agencies and organizations to help their constituents. For example, more than 45 staff and partners of the North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development have been trained to use the program across a nine-county region. Six new educational modules were developed in 2016.

  • Altra Federal Credit Union, La Crosse - Second Place ($1 billion+ in assets). The credit union delivered free financial management lessons to more than 900 adults and provided 478 consultations to help families understand their finances and create an improved financial plan. The credit union also partners with local organizations to expand outreach during Money Smart Week Wisconsin in April and provides personal finance training to local financial educators.

  • Fort Community Credit Union, Fort Atkinson - ($50M-$250 million in assets). The credit union is involving local school districts and community agencies in a poverty simulation as a means of identifying ways to assist more students and families facing financial challenges. Four employees are earning credentials as certified financial counselors and staff work with local organizations, schools and businesses to provide needed financial training.

Youth Financial Education

  • Altra Federal Credit Union, La Crosse - First Place ($1 billion+ in assets). The credit union developed a Life Stage Financial Education Series that begins with kids ages 8-10 as part of a two-day Cash Camp, moves to a Money Smart Camp for youth ages 11-12 and progresses to a Teens and Money program for ages 13-17.  Later touch points include a Financial Aid night and seminars on tackling student debt. The credit union has participated in reality fairs impacting 1,426 high school students, and developed a "real world" lunch and learn program for a district lacking a reality event. Competitive rates on youth savings vehicles and coupons for a savings match helped open more than 603 youth accounts. Staff provide educational materials and teaching assistance at local schools, several of which have implemented a financial literacy requirement in order to graduate. The credit union also sponsors teachers to attend a summer training in personal finance. Total student outreach - including staff support for Junior Achievement - last year surpassed 7,000 across three states.

  • CoVantage Credit Union, Antigo - Second Place ($1 billion+ in assets). The credit union offers classroom presentations, educational booths at student wellness fairs, reality fairs, and Junior Achievement instruction. Six student-run credit union branches provide additional opportunities for saving and learning. The credit union provides educational materials for teachers' usage.

Winners receive a plaque and are honored on social media, at a local chapter meeting and at The League's annual Convention. Winners also receive assistance to share news about their accolade with local media, as awards are an excellent opportunity to create awareness about the value of belonging to a member-owned financial cooperative.

National-level winners, which are selected by the Credit Union National Association, will be announced later this year. Those winners will be honored at CUNA's 2017 Governmental Affairs Conference in Washington, D.C.