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ABERDEEN, Md. – Aberdeen Proving Ground Federal Credit Union (APGFCU) is stepping up its education efforts by creating a new Education Department. APGFCU could be leading the way in what may be a new credit union trend. According to a recent survey by Callahan and Associates, 60% of credit unions are planning to expand their educational program coverage next year. In addition, member education topics are reaching beyond auto purchasing, home ownership and basic budgeting to include topics such as financial literacy programs for young people, and money management or investment classes for women. Home ownership education remains the most popular topic with 90% of respondents saying they offered it, with financial planning and retirement planning ranking second with 80% of credit unions offering those topics. “APGFCU has long been a leader in the area of financial literacy and education for our members,” said President/CEO Don Lewis. “I am eager to have the new Education Department continue those efforts and expand its reach to adults, neighborhood organizations and civic groups throughout the community.” The $500 million credit union has been actively teaching financial fitness to local children for over eight years through its Youth Education Services team. According to Lewis, just this year alone the team has made 170 presentations to over 5,000 children. With a recent community charter, Education Department Team Leader Tina Ripken hopes the new department will help “deliver the best in money management education” to everyone in the community. “This was the vision of our CEO and something we have been talking about for the past five years,” said Ripken. “Given the financial literacy legislative efforts and how supportive the community has been with our youth efforts we knew and our board knew that there is a definite need for this now. Our ultimate goal is to make APGFCU the first and best community resource for financial literacy education.” APGFCU’s Edgewood Operations Center houses the new educational department, which includes part-time Education Specialists Jeniffer Kaiser and Christina Polanowski. “Because of what we’ve been doing for youth here for the past eight years we have forged a number of strong partnerships and have built a great reputation for ourselves in the community,” said Ripken. “Before this department my time was divided but now that we are 100% dedicated to educating all consumers it is not only an awesome responsibility but an awesome opportunity as well that we are really excited about. Hopefully, one day every credit union across the country will have education departments.” Ripken’s immediate plans include strengthening relationships with two of the community colleges here, whose students cross all demographics and age groups and making inroads with more area private schools. In addition, APGFCU is in the process of designing several educational brochures and seminars to meet the community’s various needs. To connect with the huge home school population here Ripken will tap not only credit union experts for seminars but also plan cooperative events such as a Wellness Fair with community vendors to help further education outreach efforts. “There are no typical days,” said Ripken of her schedule. “Every day is filled with a little of everything. For example one day might include a meeting with the board of education, a high school presentation and the next day I’ll be mentoring and meeting with neighborhood organizations and civic groups. What is great is that APGFCU is always creating new opportunities and looking for the brightest ways to deliver the best to members and I get to be a part of it.” [email protected]

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