Va. League Wants YOU To Send Staffers To Financial Boot Camp

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Credit unions around the nation are always searching for new ways to educate members and their families about the intricacies of financial planning. Dawn Lindley would rather just send them to boot camp. Financial literacy boot camp, that is.

Lindley and the Virginia Credit Union League recently held its first Financial Literacy Boot Camp with 50 credit union recruits from all over the Cavalier State.

A financial literacy specialist, Lindley hadn't been on the job that long before casually mentioning the idea while attending a literacy committee meeting for the Virginia CU League last winter.

"I was just thinking out loud and said 'Wouldn't it be nice if we had a financial boot camp.' They jumped all over the idea and wanted it done by spring," she remembered with a laugh.

A prime factor behind holding a boot camp for Lindley is the sheer volume of information available for education programs, often free to the public and credit unions. Lindley wanted to create a "catalog" of services that CUs can then select to best suit their members' needs.

Lindley said the boot camp was promoted via the league's Marketing Services, in addition to league committee members selling the idea to their own boards and members.

Lindley signed up 50 people and had to turn away a half-dozen for lack of space.

"We were booked to capacity six weeks after promoting it, the need is so great," she said.

Lindley said she wanted a program that was "free, short and intense" which resulted in five sessions and several guest speakers. Session topics were:

* Why Financial Literacy is Important for Credit Unions.

* Financial Literacy Partnerships and Resources.

* We Can Make a Difference: Tracking and Reporting Presentations.

* We're Making Financial Literacy Work in Virginia Beach Schools.

* The Importance of Spreading Financial Literacy in Our Schools.

Guest speakers were Margaret Ray of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond; Celia Hayhoe of the Virginia Cooperative Extension; Kemper Baker of the Virginia Council on Economic Education; Tracey Zink of the Virginia Society of CPAs; John Meeks of the FDIC's Money Smart program, and Susan Robbins of NCUA.

Lindley said a good example of the high quality material readily available to credit unions is FDIC's Money Smart program. Money Smart can be taught to middle school students or working adults and can be obtained on compact discs or taught as a formal course.

"A lot of credit unions find that useful for members, plus it's free," Lindley said.

In the afternoon, boot camp recruits chose between a tour of a student-run credit union to learn how to start their own or how to use the National Endowment for Financial Education's (NEFE) High School Financial Planning Program. Again, Lindley pointed out that any CU can make use of NEFE's resources.

"There are as many student and teacher guides as you want. It's a wonderful program," Lindley said.

Kelli Jo Anthon, a financial counselor with Fort Belvoir FCU, traveled 80 miles to attend the boot camp and described the networking as "great" for her.

She said her goals were to learn what other credit unions were doing regarding education programs and to add more resources to Fort Belvoir's existing programs.

"I was really pleased with it. For it being free and only one day, it went really well," she said.

Anthon said she would attend again and "would pay to go."

In addition to networking with other credit unions, Anthon said she liked learning about NEFE's high school education program. "The more resources we have the more members we'll be able to reach," she said.

Lindley termed the boot camp "very successful" and said boot camp attendees were already asking about the next one.

The 2006 session will expand to two full days and feature a daylong class on NEFE's "Train the Trainer" course which teaches credit union volunteers how to reach into schools and teach financial literacy.

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