Maine’s credit unions were again recognized for their efforts in educating Maine’s youth on the importance of money management. In April 2008, it was announced that the Maine credit union movement would again receive the prestigious Desjardins Award, presented by the Credit Union National Association. This is the sixth Desjardins Award that the Maine credit union movement has received, making Maine the only state in the history of the award to be honored six times. No other credit union movement has received more than three awards, and none have accomplished that feat in consecutive years.

While the dedication of Maine credit unions to this cause is evident throughout the year, it truly shines each spring, when Maine’s credit unions set aside an entire week to promote financial literacy to parents and children. Again this year, the 7th Annual Maine Credit Union Youth Week received a proclamation from Governor Baldacci that praised Maine’s credit unions for “substantially improving and increasing the financial outlook for Maine youth.” The Governor added, “The Maine Credit Union League and Maine’s credit unions are playing a significant role in youth financial education in our state today and I applaud them for their efforts.”

Additionally, a number of credit unions coordinate Financial Fitness Money Management Experience Fairs. Similar to an interactive ‘Game of Life,’ the event gives participating high school students an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of money management. There are now four major fairs in northern, eastern, central and southern Maine, as well as several smaller ones in various parts of the state. Maine credit unions are also actively involved in schools throughout the state, helping Maine children develop a better understanding of financial concepts, such as balancing a checkbook, making a budget, developing savings plans, and handling credit cards and debts. In 2007, these efforts exposed more than 8,000 Maine children to youth financial education.

“Financial Literacy is so important for youth,” remarked Jon Paradise, Governmental and Public Affairs Manager for the Maine Credit Union League. “Maine’s credit unions are proud to be part of the educational process and to once again be presenting this program that has proven to be very popular with students. Our goal is not only to educate participants of the Financial Fitness Money Management Experience, but also to make it enjoyable for them to learn.”

The Desjardins Award is named in honor of Alphonse Desjardins, the founder of the North American credit union movement. It considers all activities supporting the personal financial education of young members and non-members, through face-to-face teaching, publicity, lobbying for curriculum requirements, teacher and volunteer training, promotion use of the National Endowment for Financial Education High School Financial Planning Program, and a number of other efforts.

For more information about the Financial Fitness Fair and the efforts of Maine’s credit unions on youth financial literacy, visit www.mainecul.org.


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