News & Information

Wisconsin credit unions: busy offering REAL Solutions

by Christine Henzig, Director of Communications Jun 20, 2017

REAL Solutions represents the many ways credit unions help members and communitiesWisconsin credit unions are offering the services and outreach their members and communities need to prosper.

Recent examples of their REAL Solutions®

Hover over photos for their captions

Close to a dozen Wisconsin credit unions are providing lower-rate student loan refinances. Their names are listed on a state-coordinated website which points to these credit unions as a solution for families burdened by educational debt. 

1st Community Credit Union sponsored the local Senior Celebration.

Advia Credit Union donated $100 to Habitat for Humanity for every new mortgage application it received from April through June. Its employees also volunteers at build sites. Employees are paid to take up to 24 hours each year to volunteer for charity. The credit union also awarded $25,000 in college scholarships.

Avestar Credit Union held a chili cook off to benefit a food pantry

Alliant Credit Union employees wear jeans for a cause on Wednesdays, and contribute funds to one organization each quarter. Since last July they've raised more than $1,600 for community organizations.

Altra Federal Credit Union hosted a free Teens & Money Seminar that taught budgeting, money management and goal setting. It also hosted its 46th annual Easter Egg Hunt for a day of family fun. Local readers and viewers of the River Valley Media Group voted Altra the Best Credit Union and Best Mortgage Broker for 2017.

Avestar Credit Union held a chili cook off with proceeds benefiting the local food pantry.

Brantwood Credit Union is hosting a folk art exhibit as part of a local celebration of the community’s Finnish heritage.

Bull's Eye Credit Union is among the sponsors of the Special Olympics Polar Plunge in Wisconsin Rapids. 

Bulls Eye Credit Union's team took an icy plunge for Special OlympicsCapital Credit Union invites credit union participation in a GenCyber camp at UW-Green Bay to educate students in grades 7-9 about cybersecurity and online safety. The credit union’s CIO is a co-coordinator and instructor. The credit union also raised funds to benefit area homeless shelters.

Community First Credit Union sponsored the first museum exhibition of a fine art photographer in America.

County-City Credit Union was honored as a ‘Friend of Jefferson Schools" for classroom help to teach responsibility, citizenship and personal finance.

CoVantage Credit Union returned a $2.5 million patronage refund to members – a practice it has followed for 36 years. This included a bonus on dividends earned by savers and a loan interest rebate.

Dane County Credit Union hosts an annual Easter egg hunt and home paint-a-thon. The credit union also serves at a food pantry and collaborates with Heartland Credit Union on a school supply drive.

Educators Credit Union hosted 10 reality fairs for high school students this year that engage them in real-life financial decision-making and distributed close to $40,000 in college scholarships.  The credit union set a goal to help 5,500 members save $25 million on loans and credit cards obtained elsewhere. This summer it also sponsored a Run/Walk that supports the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign.  Landmark Credit Union sponsors the event’s Mascot Challenge.

First Choice Credit Union stuffed backpacks to help needy kidsFirst Choice Credit Union stuffs student backpacks with healthy meals to help needy families. The credit union also provides and serves a meal each calendar quarter at Hope Lodge, a facility that houses visitors of hospitalized cancer patients. 

Fond du Lac Credit Union collected cash and supplies for a local center that addresses domestic abuse and homelessness. Employees also volunteer at fundraisers that support a family resource center offering pregnancy and parenting programs.

Fort Community Credit Union holds two cookouts for Tomorrow's Hope and the Jefferson County Cancer Coalition. They also volunteer each year at the Special Olympics basketball tournament, dress down for charity, and sponsor the local farmers markets.

Forward Financial Credit Union held a cookout and bake sale in addition to walking as part of a team that raised funds for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Fox Communities Credit Union held member seminars on homebuying, car buying and long term care, and a spring shred event to help members protect their personal information. It also held a family movie night that helped collect funds for a mobile food pantry and a wiener dog race at a local hockey game that raised funds for an animal sanctuary. The credit union's popular Bike to the Beat event, held in conjunction with a music festival, raised funds for several charities. The credit union has also offered sign language to help hearing impaired members and has staff that can translate information into Spanish or Hmong.

Dennis Degenhardt dressed the part of a sleazy car salesman for a reality fairGlacier Hills Credit Union also hosted a reality fair, with former CEO Dennis Degenhardt dressing up as a sleazy car salesman to interact with the students.

Governmental Employees Credit Union offers small-dollar loans to students to purchase bicycles, as well as safety items like helmets and lights. The loans help them build a credit score and keep them away from higher-cost payday lenders.

Guardian Credit Union provides student scholarships through a program funded 100% by the staff. Employees voluntarily contribute to the fund each payday. More than $26,000 was presented to local students last year.

Heartland Credit Union sponsored an event for cooperative farmingHayward Community Credit Union ended last year by fulfilling 80 wishes in the community, such as providing new carpeting for a sexual assault shelter. Recently, the credit union donated $417 and supplies that filled two SUVs to help Chetek tornado victims. Employees also golfed to benefit the Hayward Foundation for Education Enrichment and collected donations for the local K-9 unit. Employees also help stock local food pantry shelves and pack weekend lunches for needy kids. At Christmas, employees ring bells for Salvation Army.

Heartland Credit Union sponsored an open house for Community Supported Agriculture, a form of cooperative farming, as part of its "go local" campaign.

Kohler Credit Union collaborated with local organizations on a brat fry to donate $1,300 to help veterans visit their memorials in Washington D.C. as part of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

La Crosse Area credit unions are coordinating with Asset Builders to expand the Finance & Investment Challenge Bowl and bring a new tournament to high school students in their area. This is a financial learning opportunity that has broad support from credit unions statewide. This December, CUNA Mutual Group will host the Madison regional tournament for students from nine Madison-area high schools.

Madison-area credit unions, including Dane County, Heartland, UW and Summit, are offering career opportunities for Latinos through the Career Igniter program. They partner with CUNA, the local nonprofit Centro Hispano and Madison College to offer teller training, computer classes, financial education and professional development.

N.E.W. Credit Union delivered balloons and gifts to nursing homes

Marathon County Employees Credit Union offered a free workshop in conjunction with the public library to share financial service tips with teens and young adults.

N.E.W. Credit Union employees perform monthly Random Acts of Kindness. For example, they delivered balloons and gifts to nursing home residents, prepared treat bags for a Meals on Wheels program and surprised people in the community with holiday greetings, roses, cookies, flags and $5 bills.

Oakdale Credit Union sponsors the Shop with a Cop program, in which local police take elementary students shopping to help needy families.

Park City Credit Union is sponsoring free, family entertainment in conjunction with a summer reading program. It also joined with CoVantage Credit Union to sponsor an art fair.

PCM Credit Union walks for the March of Dimes, golfs for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and rings bells for the Salvation Army

Premier Financial Credit Union coordinated free lunches and served as an information resource as part of a local Senior Fest event that showcases resources for finance, housing, health and more.

Prime Financial Credit Union hosts local students for an annual job shadowing experience. The credit union is also enacting a Hispanic growth plan to improve its outreach.

Ripco Credit Union holds a holiday toy drive for needy families.

Shoreline Credit Union sponsored a family-friendly kite eventRoyal Credit Union is helping low-income families – some with limited credit histories – obtain a mortgage with a low 3% down payment using a grant it obtained as a Community Development Financial Institution. The credit union also offers free office space to assist community members with free tax preparation assistance. Royal also sponsors Rock the Riverfront featuring the Charity Classic, a full day of community activities that raised funds for a food bank, boys & girls club and children's museum.

Shoreline Credit Union sponsors a Kites Over Lake Michigan event.

Simplicity Credit Union helped fund the relocation of a community organization that helps families access jobs, transportation, housing, entrepreneurial assistance, shelter and emotional support.

STAR Credit Union – a youth-run credit union serving a Boys & Girls Club in Madison - is using a $10,000 award it won as part of an idea pitching contest to offer its student savers a financial education summer camp called Camp Millionaire.

Summit Credit Union surpassed a five-year goal to save its 162,000 members $60 million compared to the cost of banking with a Wisconsin for-profit financial institution, achieving this in just three years.  Summit has also partnered with 100state, a nonprofit that helps bring new products and ideas to market. Summit aids the organization with personal and business finance coaching, help from its Business Services staff, special event co-hosting and financial wellness seminars. For prospective homebuyers, Summit offers an app called CURB that helps users track home listings and rates, view photos, research neighborhoods, find information on deeds and more. Summit also touts returning earnings to members through its Cash Boomerang payouts.

Superior Choice Credit Union partnered with Lutheran Social Services (LSS) Financial Counseling to hold a year-long Great Debt Pay Down competition. Participants meet with LSS counselors and attend group education. The top three participants who lower their debt-to-income ratio the most win cash prizes.

Taylor Credit Union brings special education students to the credit union by bus to learn how to perform financial transactions. Four students work in the credit union's in-school branch where they have tasks appropriate for their skill set and can gain experience interacting with people. 

Thrivent Federal Credit Union formed a community Action TeamThrivent Federal Credit Union formed an Action Team that made tie blankets and collected cold weather clothing for three different charities.

TruStone Federal Financial Credit Union supported AARP’s Tax-Aide program that prepared more than 1,000 tax returns for lower-income citizens. It also held a casual day for a non-profit providing food, shelter and support services for homeless and low-income people.

Verve, a Credit Union sponsored Leadership Oshkosh, a nine-month program that teaches emerging leaders about the community’s opportunities and challenges. This year the program raised $10,000 and began a foundation supporting the police department.

WESTconsin Credit Union launched $MART, a financial education program from childhood through retirement, to help members navigate financial issues at various life stages.  The credit union also held a June food drive to help families feed children who typically rely on school meal programs. WESTconsin volunteers also helped repair a domestic violence shelter, complete landscaping, and build its dog kennel, picnic tables, chairs, playground and sand box. The credit union was honored for supporting rural residents looking to become homeowners through the USDA Guaranteed Rural Housing Program.

Chapters also deliver REAL Solutions®

The Eastern Shores Chapter assembled care packages for families receiving care at a Ronald McDonald House. 

The Central Wisconsin Chapter used grant money to begin offering a life simulation to credit union employees in the chapter to help them experience financial decision-making in the midst of financial crisis; the goal is to build their creativity responding to the needs of members.

We all make a difference at Convention

Wisconsin Credit Unions that attended the League’s May Convention assembled snack packs for hungry kids in the Wisconsin Dells School District. We donated a total of 1,260 packs, plus $268 in cash - enough to send snacks home with students for a month.

And we continue magnifying our impact through the Foundation

With support from its Annual Fund Donor Society, The Wisconsin Credit Union Foundation supports the professional development, growth and wellness of credit unions to advance their people-focused mission.

In May, thanks to Foundation support, 57 credit union professionals began working toward the credential of Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC). The program helps credit unions consider how to develop a financial counseling and education program within their organization, and how they will measure subsequent successes for their credit union and their members.The program credentialed 69 Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors from 31 credit unions in 2016.

The Foundation's 2016 Annual Report was just released, highlighting its outreach and esteemed donors. 

Can't get enough?

Read more, in case you missed our last report!

Expand your REAL Solutions!

Registration is complimentary for The League's Community Development Workshop, August 10 in Stevens Point. Learn to super-charge your outreach!

Share your REAL Solutions! 

How is your credit union reaching out to members and the community? Copy The League on your press releases.

Wisconsin credit unions come together as a single League to Unite for Good; we remove barriers, increase awareness and foster service excellence. All of these steps help more Americans to see credit unions as their best financial partner and regard their credit union as their primary financial institution. Read more articles in our Unite for Good series.