<p>COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Starting with Colorado, NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar expects to hit the major state league conventions this spring and summer to push participation in NCUA's "Access Across America" program aimed at helping CUs reach the underserved. In a speech before the recently held Colorado League's annual convention, the NCUA Chairman said the program, announced in March at CUNA's GAC Conference, is one means of countering inroads made by payday lenders and check cashers which prey on the unbanked. Under "Access Across America," CUs can get help from cooperating federal agencies for field of membership applications as they seek to add underserved areas. Dollar told the Colorado convention he was heartened by new statistics showing more of the underserved are being reached by "Access Across America." Through April 30, 83 CUs had added 125 underserved areas containing more than 5.2 million people. The NCUA has set a goal of 20 million in underserved areas added to CU fields of membership by yearend. The agency expects to look at how many of the potential new members actually become CU members as a way to underscore the success of the program. But Dollar told the Colorado attendees the "reach out" program may "not be right for every credit union" and would be a matter for management to decide. He noted that the "Access Across America" now has its own Web site available to CUs to research NCUA requirements to find out what federal resources might be available. In another talk at the League convention, CUNA Mutual Group President Michael Kitchen defended the insurance firm's record in serving the industry and said it has no plans to "demutualize" in moving toward a stock formation. Such an approach to reach beyond CUs would diminish CUNA Mutual's focus on serving the industry. Kitchen said the firm is proud of its record in providing investment and insurance products to CUs and sees no need to change its market philosophy. Kitchen said also CUNA Mutual managed to end 2001in good shape reaching a milestone of $1 billion in surplus. That occurred while "negative growth" impacted many CUs. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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