SPIRE Credit Union has been honored with both the 2019 Youth and Adult Desjardins Financial Education Awards in the category for companies with $1 billion or more in assets. The awards, sponsored by the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN) and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), recognize leadership within the credit union movement on behalf of financial literacy.
“We began this program in 2007 out of a sheer passion for teaching people essential financial skills to survive and thrive in life,” says Bridget Petersen, SPIRE Market VP of Community Outreach, “Our first class was in Mora, MN with a group of high school students. Since then, we have greatly expanded our reach to nearly 8,000 adults and youth throughout Minnesota and even internationally.”
For the third consecutive year, SPIRE has received the Youth Desjardins Financial Literacy Award. In a unique collaboration with BestPrep in 2018, a group of ten SPIRE employees worked with students from Minnehaha Academy’s Introduction to Business Class for a 12-week eMentoring program. Students and their SPIRE eMentors had weekly email exchanges that focused around career skills and future success in the workplace and life. Additional partnerships include DECA, the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation, Junior Achievement, and schools throughout SPIRE’s service area. Youth were educated in the areas of auto buying, budgeting, housing options, credit management and more. In 2018, SPIRE reached 585 youth over 336 classroom hours and 20 events.
For the fifth consecutive year, SPIRE won the Adult Desjardins Award. Throughout 2018, SPIRE influenced adults throughout Minnesota and internationally, reaching nearly 2,000 adults over 55 events. Twenty SPIRE employees went beyond their normal duties, dedicating 22% of all business days in 2018 to adult financial literacy education. Partners include the Minnesota Credit Union Network (MnCUN), Minnesota Department of Commerce and the newly developed SPIRE Young Adult Advisory Council.
SPIRE even took their message internationally in 2018. In a unique twist of giving back and cooperation among cooperatives, SPIRE’s Director of Business Development, Rachael Reiling, visited three credit unions in Kenya, presenting on financial education outreach in the United States, in addition to business development and marketing topics.
SPIRE’s winning entry will advance to the national competition, where it will compete with financial education projects from credit unions in other states.
“I am so proud of our SPIRE financial literacy team for their continued positive impact on the financial well-being of our communities,” says Dan Stoltz, SPIRE President & CEO, “They are dedicated to giving back and go well beyond their normal duties to support our outreach efforts. These employee should be celebrated and recognized for their efforts!”
The award is named in honor of Alphonse Desjardins, the co-founder of the first cooperative financial institution in Lévis, Quebec in 1900, which served as the forerunner of the current credit union system in America. Desjardins was an ardent believer in the value of teaching children to save, and he promoted the idea of in-school savings programs.
Pictured above: SPIRE staff with Minnehaha Academy High School BestPrep eMentors program participants