'University' Founded For Members Seeking To Better Use Their CU

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FAIRWINDS Credit Union has started its own "university" for members who want a better understanding of their finances.

Named after the $950-million financial institution that serves 115,000 people in five counties, the university will offer monthly seminars that focus on topics that directly affect them and that can help them make better use of the credit union, said Kelly White, FCU advertising and PR coordinator.

"What we've seen through our different departments is that there is really a lack of knowledge from members," she said. "Because of that, they are not getting the most out of our credit union. We want to make it more of a benefit than just a place to keep money."

White added that among the CU's goals for the year is to focus on member advocacy. "And a big part of that is going to be education," she said. "We have had seminars in the past, but they have mostly been through the chapters or outside vendors and organizations."

White said FAIRWINDS University-named to give the program the sense that it would be ongoing-had originally planned a six-month run, but ideas for topics from members have extended offering classes for a year and beyond.

The first seminar, "Managing Your Credit" showed 59 students how to read a credit report and explained the importance of a credit score. Joy Kafka, manager of consumer loans, also provided tips on how to repair a damaged credit history.

February's seminar is titled "Auto 101: How to Purchase and Finance." FAIRWINDS loan officer Ryan McManus will be joined by Jody Bowman, a representative of Auto Wholesale Direct to explain the obstacles of purchasing and financing a vehicle. The curriculum will include guidance on how to get the best deal for a trade-in and how to get the best loan rate.

In March, White said, students will learn the ins and outs of home buying.

The two-and-a-half hour long evening classes are being held at the FAIRWINDS Administration Center. They are free and include pizza and sodas.

White said students will also receive a binder and a module of the courses in the hopes they will do follow-up. She said there is some type of "diploma" in the works for those who complete all the courses.

Fairwinds is also currently discussing how it can provide incentives to its graduates.

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