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<p>FARMERS BRANCH, Texas – Texas credit union officials at CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference this week will be better equipped to show legislators the impact credit union members can have on their political campaigns thanks to CUNA’s Project Zip Code initiative. Project Zip Code is a software program that determines which state and federal legislative districts credit union members live within and then tallies the number of members in each of those districts. That’s powerful information, according to Michael Blachly, Texas Credit Union League’s Governmental Communications Director. “Instead of saying, `My office resides in your district,’ a credit union CEO can say to his or her representative, “My credit union has 120,000 members living in your district.’ Which statement do you think carries more impact?” asked Blachly. Texas is the first league to launch Project Zip Code, which CUNA recently piloted on credit unions of various sizes in North Carolina, Washington, Michigan, California and Vermont in addition to Texas. With Texas’ early election primary date of March 12, TCUL was eager to “get the program underway.” Data provided by the program will be particularly beneficial to legislators whose constituency may have changed as a result of the redistricting necessitated by 2000 census figures. As of Feb. 8, 36 of Texas’ 698 credit unions had completed the Project Zip Code analysis, placing 1.25 million members, or 15% of all Texas credit union members, into congressional, state senate and state house districts. “Through Project Zip Code, we are able to show our elected officials how many of the voters in their districts are credit union members, and – based on my experience – that carries a lot of weight with our legislators,” said Mike Kelley, CEO of City CU in Dallas. “If a credit union is going to be politically active for the movement, Project Zip Code will be an indispensable tool.” Information gleaned from the Project Zip Code analyses becomes even more valuable when coupled with the fact that credit union members tend to be more politically active than the average citizen, according to Richard Gose, CUNA’s VP of Political Affairs. Based on CUNA’s 2000/2001 Political Affairs Research, more than 40 percent of voters in the 2000 general election were credit union members. CUNA first attempted identifying credit union member legislative districts during the H.R. 1151 battle. Project Zip Code protects the privacy of credit union members. No credit union membership information leaves the database when a credit union participates. Gretchen Graf, CUNA Grassroots Manager, explained the process. “When installed onto the credit union’s computer, the software appends to the membership database and determines legislative districts based on zip codes. Only the number of members in given districts is uploaded to CUNA, but the software offers credit unions additional capabilities. Credit unions have a listing of their member names and addresses by district for use in grassroots legislative or business development efforts,” Graf said. Factors such as how much memory a computer has, whether the credit union has a dial-up or ISDN line, and membership size affect how long the program takes to run, but a database of 40,000 might take about 1-1/2 hours to process with an ISDN line, according to Graf. Credit unions can contact their state leagues for Project Zip Code software. CUNA anticipated a complete rollout of the program at the Governmental Affairs Conference. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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