Program Aims To Help Credit Impaired Improve Status

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Capital Community Credit Union (CapCom) here and Capital Area Michigan Works have teamed up to offer "Earn It Back," a program to help community members with bad credit learn how to manage their money and, in turn, become worthy CU members.

Jill Abendroth, CapCom's community education coordinator, said the idea stemmed from experiences with students in previous classes she taught through Michigan Works for the general public, many of which had no idea how to write a check or balance a checkbook.

Her frustration came when she learned that the students were not able to apply their newfound financial knowledge because financial institutions didn't want to take the risk.

After doing some research, Abendroth developed a program through which community members could earn membership with CapCom by attending seven and a half hours of classes that focus on budgeting, credit and financial security.

Abendroth said the majority of her students are referred after applying for public assistance and being sent to Michigan Works for job training and assistance.

The program has been advertised in both local and regional newspapers and brochures at the $80-million finCapCom.

Once the class requirements are met, the students must pass a quiz and have no outstanding debts before they can open savings accounts. After three months in good standing, Abendroth said, they can open checking accounts.

Since the program started in January, Abendroth said she's had a consistent flow of students-about 15 per class. Abendroth said she splits her time between the CU-"where I have other duties"-and Michigan Works' Lansing office, where the classes are held. The first group of "Earn It Back" students was set to take their quizzes after one more class.

Abendroth said she feels pretty good about the successes she is seeing, but frustrated that there isn't enough time in her days to educate more for people in outlying communities and local high schools.

CapCom, formerly Lansing Community Credit Union, recently changed its name to better reflect its new charter expanded to include the community in three counties.

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