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Michigan credit unions want Detroiters to ‘own’ their money

DETROIT — The role of the banks in Detroit’s financial woes — their municipal bond swaps, secured creditor status and offers of loans to repay other bank loans — are on full view in federal bankruptcy court. Meanwhile, the local credit unions are going on the road to educate Michiganders about “owning their money.”

Unlike banks, credit unions are owned by their members, functioning like co-ops. “This means that credit unions think first about their members and the communities they serve by: offering financial services to all consumers, even those that don’t often use traditional banking; teaching youth about financial literacy; volunteering their time to local charities; and providing loans to local small businesses,” says Dave Adams, the CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League, the trade association for Michigan credit unions.

Adams says service to communities is at the core of what credit unions do, reporting credit union community outreach reached an estimated $10,636,488, including $7,755,713 in direct donations in 2012.  He also says credit unions were involved in 3,568 volunteer projects and credit union employees gave about 114,000 hours of volunteer time.

Two hundred-and eighty-nine credit unions out of the 295 in Michigan belong to the league, including four Detroit-based credit unions: Detroit Metropolitan, Communicating Arts, Greater Christ Baptist Church and Bethel Baptist Church East. Although credit unions’ local nature keeps them relatively small, Adams told the Michigan Citizen a nationwide alliance of 5,000 shared CU branches means members can conduct transactions across the nation.  “That adds up to convenience comparable to the country’s largest banks,” he asserts.

Michigan CU’s plan to launch “It’s Time to Own Your Money mobile tour.”  during the 24th Annual IceMan Cometh Challenge Bike Race on Nov. 2 in Traverse City, Mich., with other stops at Ford Field in Detroit Nov. 29-30 and Detroit’s Noel Night, Dec. 7. Adams says the tour is, “designed to connect with Michigan residents face to face in a fun and engaging manner … part of the ongoing CU Link cooperative marketing campaign designed to increase consumer awareness of the benefits of credit union membership.”

Guests will have the opportunity to post on the “I’m Saving For…” wall, which provides a visual snapshot of purchases for which Michiganders are saving.  Everyone who contributes to the “I’m Saving For…” wall through the course of the tour will be entered into a contest to win $2,500 to help give one winner a jump start on their savings.

The “I’m Saving For…” wall is inspired by “Save to Win,” a prize-linked savings program created to appeal to credit union members who have had difficulty saving money, says Adams. “Members have saved $30.7 million since the program began in 2009, and these members have also won nearly $1 million.”

To learn more about credit unions visit

– Staff report


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