Announcing the CU-MESPY Awards: Tell Us What Your Credit Union is Doing for Members

It’s time to start proclaiming what the industry is doing for our members, rather than let the press, the trades and NCUA dominate the agenda in front of Congress with their hands out. Read 4 current entries and submit your own to the Credit Union Member Economic Stimulus Package (CU-MESPY) Awards.


Movies have Oscar night. Broadway has the Tony award. Music has Grammy’s. Websites have the Webby’s. And for sports fans, don’t forget the EPSY. Now, it’s time for the CU-MESPYs.

What are the CU-MESPY Awards?

Obama talks of “glimmers of hope” on the road to economic recovery. It’s time for credit unions to stand up and shine a much brighter light on their efforts to help members. Therefore, Callahan & Associates is launching two efforts this week to do just that. First, to amplify each credit union’s voice and at the behest of our many credit union friends, Callahan & Associates launches Credit Unions Rising. Read the Credit Unions Rising (Hu)Manifesto.

Second, and the point of this article, is to announce that we are accepting entries for the new Credit Union Member Economic Stimulus Package (CU-MESPY) Awards. It’s time to stop wallowing and instead start honoring credit unions that are creating member-by-member economic gains. Here are just some of the great things credit unions are already doing:

  1. Community First Credit Union (WI) : Potential first home purchasers in 2009 might have solid job stability and good credit ratings, but many did not have that all-important cash down payment. With this financial barrier to homeownership in mind, Community First (CEO: Cathie Tierney) decided to create a responsible and affordable program designed to help these cash-strapped, first time-home buyers. They drafted the Community First Stimulus Mortgage Package for First Time Home Buyers, allowing first-time home buyers to apply an interest-free advance on the First-Time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit as a down payment on their first home. Read all the details.
  2. BECU (WA) : BECU in Seattle is aggressively helping members refinance mortgages during this refinancing boom. At press time, the credit union offered an amazing 4.701% APR on a 30 year fixed. Each mortgage refinanced puts hundreds of dollars per month back into the member’s hands—their own mini-stimulus plan. BECU expects to double in the first six months of 2009 the highest mortgage volume it has ever produced in a full year’s operation!
  3. State Employees Credit Union (NC) : SECU VITA personnel completed more than 25,000 returns, generating over $33 million in total refunds for North Carolinians. A total of $3.75 million was saved in preparation fees typically charged by for-profit tax preparation services. In addition, $15.7 million in tax credits, including $9.7 million in Earned Income Tax Credits and $5.2 million in Child Tax Credits, were claimed through the SECU program --- providing a potential boost in North Carolina’s economy. Read all the details.
  4. Credit Union Student Choice: Since its launch in May 2008, Credit Union Student Choice Partners has helped over 50 credit unions get in the private student loan business. With no origination fees, lower rates and better choices for repayment, credit unions offering loans through the program can save members over $100,000 over the life of the loan. Now, CUSC partners are teaming up with the world’s most renowned business schools – including MIT Sloan, Harvard and Wharton – to offer loans for both domestic and foreign graduate students.

What’s Your Story?

Don’t be shy! Now is the time for credit unions to stand up and proclaim why the cooperative financial services model is best suited to help members in their time of need. Send your stories to me via email ( or submit them through the comment box below. If you helped one, one hundred or one thousand members, everyone is a winner in this Award bracket. We’ll be showcasing your success stories on our new advocacy site Credit Unions Rising.