INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana credit unions have established the Indiana Credit Union Foundation to fund credit union development and worthwhile community programs in the state and beyond. The foundation is the legacy to the league of past board chairman Trent Kerr, CEO of the Indiana State University FCU in Terre Haute. "He is the person who decided that the league should pursue" creating a foundation, said Kay Neidlinger, league public relations director. Until Kerr's initiative, Neidlinger said, the will to create a foundation hadn't existed before. "The timing was right, that we could launch it and do it the right way," she said. "We had the enthusiasm from our board of directors and we had the interest level from our credit unions and we didn't have that until now." The league will use the foundation to fund credit union development and a variety of community projects including scholarships and grants and to further programs to boost financial literacy, community education and disaster relief. "I'm sure there are all kinds of needs out there, said Judy James, foundation chairperson. "We have to sort out what needs are most important." For now, the foundation is working on developing a mission statement, said James, who is CEO of Bar-Cons FCU in Columbus. She said a planning session is tentatively planned for August so that the foundation can promote itself at the league convention in September. The foundation will augment an existing Stabilization Reserve fund that has been used to make loans or grants to credit unions in temporary financial need and to make political contributions. The fund will continue as a separate entity but because of the political contributions, the reserve fund could not accept tax-deductible contributions. Kerr, who was chairman in 2000-2001, said the league needed something more than the limited stabilization fund. "I felt we needed to create a foundation as the cornerstone to funding, endowment and permanent maintenance for all the initiatives dedicated to the development of credit unions in Indiana and certainly their members and communities," Kerr said. He also saw the need for an Indiana organization that could work with the National Credit Union Foundation on domestic and international development issues and on humanitarian aid. To build an endowment, the league is seeking contributions in three ways. In addition to soliciting direct contributions, the league has begun a program to sell commemorative coins at credit unions in Indiana. The profits will go to the foundation. Individuals, credit unions and others who make pledges by Dec. 31, 2002, and fulfill their direct contributions by September 1, 2003, will be eligible for the foundation's Founders Society. Credit unions can also support the ICUF through the Community Investment Fund created by the NCUF, the Association of Credit Union Foundations and American Association of Credit Union Leagues. The CIF provides funds for national and state development initiatives by directing a portion of a credit union's dividends from a participating corporate credit union into the NCUF, which then divides the contribution with the state foundation. Judy James, president of Bar-Cons FCU of Columbus, was named chairman of the foundation. Other board officers are Ronald Budzinski, of La-Porter FCU of Michigan City, vice chairman; Lamoura Munse, Capital Plus CU, Indianapolis, treasurer; and Larry Zehrung, Reliable FCU, Fort Wayne, secretary. Other board members include Angela Dufour, Link FCU, Indianapolis; Barbara Berghoff, Professional FCU, Fort Wayne; and Sandra Heller, Northern Indiana FCU, Merrillville. Dufour, Heller and Zehrung are also members of the ICUL board. -

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