Michigan CUL Publishes First-Ever 'Social Mission' Report Reviewing CUs' Work

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The Michigan Credit Union League has published its first "social mission report" to document how credit unions in the state have improved the financial lives of their members.

Created, in part, as a strategic tool to help lobbying efforts and combat criticism it considered unjustified, the MCUL 2005 Community Reinvestment Initiative Aggregate Report includes data collected over two years by MCUL management, state government officials and industry leaders and volunteers.

"This report pulls together all the data gathered by six working groups created to document how credit unions fulfill their mission," said Dave Adams, CEO of the MCUL. "It was put together in a form that tells the credit union story to lawmakers and the public."

Adams said the report shows that CUs are firmly rooted in the communities, and that the report will be revised annually to keep the CU story fresh. "The banking industry has unfairly and inaccurately portrayed the credit union mission as solely to serve people of modest means,'' Adams said. "In fact, the credit union mission is much broader than just serving people of small means. Credit union fields of membership have always been centered around occupational-based employee groups and communities of working, middle-class American households.''

Each group was charged with collecting information on a specific topic that showed how credit unions in the state are meeting their social mission, Adams explained. Their efforts resulted in six separate sections of the report, including:

* The Student Loan group, for example, examined the various scholarship programs and established key initiatives to help CUs broaden their participation in government-backed programs to help make a more meaningful impact in their communities.

* The Financial Literacy group highlighted "Just File It! We'll Help!," a new web-based income tax assistance program that gives free access to file for tax credits and refunds. Through the program, more than $1 million in refunds and credits have been generated for low-income households in Michigan.

* The Community Involvement section stressed the fact that credit unions help others "not because they are mandated to, but because it seems an inherent part of their reason for being.'' It pointed out a sampling of causes that Michigan CUs supported, including Hurricane Katrina Relief, Tsunami Relief, March of Dimes and Credit Union for Kids.

* The Cool Cities section addressed everything from affordable and risk-basked lending programs to home loan payment relief efforts.

The report also pointed out that 60% of the state's CU's have special programs designed to help provide affordable loans to members with less than perfect credit, more than 46,000 students in Michigan benefited from financial education provided by CU volunteers, CU's in metropolitan Detroit had a higher overall loan approval ratio than other financial institutions for first mortgage applications received from low-and moderate-income applicants and that Michigan CUs were involved in more than 2,400 community projects in 2005.

Detailed statistics from various sources including the Community Reinvestment Initiative Survey, the National Credit Union Administration 5300 Call Reports, the 2004 home Mortgage Disclosure Act Aggregate Report, the MCUL Financial Literacy Survey, DataTrac and the Credit Union National Association were also included.

For example, the CRI Survey shows that Michigan residents received more than $187 million in direct financial benefits through lower loan rates and higher dividend rates on savings accounts during the 12 months ending in June 2005.

"Information gathered from the CRI Survey, coupled with data garnered from various other sources, clearly indicates that Michigan credit unions are doing a great job of serving all of their members, regardless of their socio-economic status," Adams said. "In addition, credit unions, through their involvement in so many community projects, are also helping build strong neighborhoods and communities."

To view the report, visit www.cri.mcul.org.

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