Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) have announced Genisys Credit Union (GCU) as the Michigan state-level first place winner of the Alphonse Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award. CUNA’s Alphonse Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award recognizes credit union leadership efforts to strengthen education on behalf of youth financial literacy.
“We place a focus on being a resource to our communities for financial education,” said Jackie Buchanan, President and CEO of Genisys Credit Union. “Financial knowledge and capability are key in empowering an individual or family to reach their goals for financial freedom and choice — it’s never too early to start that education.”
In 2019, the credit union received feedback from area schools that they did not have an engaging curriculum to support the teaching and learning of financial literacy. To support the curriculum development, GCU partnered with the MCUL to offer a Financial Reality Fair program to high school students.
Reality Fairs focus on providing a real-world experience to students by giving them a taste of what it takes to financially live on their own. Students start the fair by choosing a career and then are given a salary and credit score to navigate making various lifestyle purchases through a custom app. In doing so, they learn budgeting and the role a credit score plays in their financial well-being.
In addition to the Financial Reality Fairs, GCU also partners with Banzai, an award-winning content platform, to provide financial literacy materials to teachers. This partnership offers free online courses and materials to teachers such as blog articles, interactive coaching sessions that virtually walk you through the process of setting up emergency savings, and more. There also are lesson plans that can be downloaded or shipped to teachers for elementary, middle, and high school students.
To date, GCU has been able to impact more than 6,000 students with their financial education efforts.
The credit union also was awarded second place at the state level for CUNA’s Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award. This award promotes social responsibility among credit unions by recognizing their community service achievements. They received this recognition for the Hispanic Emergency Food Program done in partnership with Lighthouse of Oakland County and Centro Multicultural La Familia. The program provides culturally appropriate food to Pontiac’s Hispanic community in response to food insecurity. Through a one-night livestream, over $68,000 was raised benefitting approximately 1,700 individuals in the community.