'Losing Our Way' DE Program Aims To Reignite The CU Spark

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The National Credit Union Foundation has created a "Future of Development Education Committee" to examine new ways to revitalize and expand the program.

As reported in The Credit Union Journal March 20, the Development Education program is a week-long immersion in credit unions' history and philosophy held on the campus of the University of Wisconsin each summer. Although more than 600 people have graduated from the program in its 30 years, the Foundation has been exploring ways to offer a scaled-down version that would allow more to credit union leaders to participate.

NCUF Chairman Mary Cunningham, CEO of USA FCU in San Diego, formed the new committee during a DE workshop in Salt lake City at which a panel discussion on "Revitalizing the DE Program: Now's the Time" was held. The panel featured a number of DES: NCUA Board Member Gigi Hyland, Texas Credit Union League President/CEO Dick Ensweiler, Cunningham, and CUNA Mutual Senior VP Larry Blanchard.

"As a movement, we are losing our way," declared Blanchard, a CUDE since 1988. "Many credit union executives and volunteer leaders are not aware of the nine cooperative principles that give credit unions their competitive advantage in the market. If credit unions are driven by the bottom line rather than service to members, we are heading in a direction that we do not want to go."

"The DE Program is more relevant today than ever," affirmed Cunningham. "We are vulnerable as a movement if executives approach credit unions with just a bottom-line orientation. The revitalization of the DE Program is almost a do-or-die deal."

"The credit union movement is at a cross roads," observed Gigi Hyland, who suggested that all credit union officials need to ask themselves, "What are our principles as financial cooperatives and how are we using our principles to serve our current members and attract new members?" Hyland also asserted that "DE is the only program out there that can connect the business case of why cooperative financial services make sense in the larger financial services marketplace."

DE Registration Is Open

MADISON, Wis.-Registration is now open for up to three dozen professionals and volunteers to participate in the Development Education (DE) Training Program, an intensive, interactive six-day program sponsored by the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF). The program will run from June 22-27, in Madison, Wis. For info: 800-356-9655, ext. 4397, or www.ncuf.coop.

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