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MADISON, Wis. – Just because credit union is not part the National Youth Involvement Board’s name, don’t underestimate its dedication to helping credit unions serve young members. “These young people are out there spending-a total of $172 billion just last year,” said NYIB Chair and Electrus Federal Credit Union Director of Marketing/Business Development LeAnn Achtenberg. “It is important to let credit unions know that attracting the young is like a triple dip-you get the youth, parents, and the families of the loyal members they grow up to be. Education is the key so credit unions can be the ones they turn to for guidance rather than learning by going to the school of hard knocks.” NYIB started out in 1972 as a focus group that gauged younger members to help credit unions gain some insight on this group. Today the completely volunteer run organization stands with 300 members, an executive committee of seven, six regional officers and a new mission to generate enthusiasm and excitement by developing leaders and providing resources to help credit unions attract, serve, and educate youth. In addition, NYIB recently established sub-committees to share classroom presentation information, judge scholarship entries, revamp the Web site, and help with conference items. “I think we are considered a group that just houses data but we have so much more to offer,” said Achtenberg. “We have an amazing group of people that are so motivated about youth services and a wealth of knowledge here literally at credit unions fingertips.” In 2002 NYIB partnered with StreetSage to promote credit unions while educating young people. StreetSage is an interactive online investing game that teaches teens the value of long-term investing and saving through an online stock market simulation over a 35-year time period. Through credit union sponsorship a school can have unlimited use of the product for a full year. According to Achtenberg, studies now show that students using this game score 8.5% better than national financial literacy averages. “A lot of credit unions are telling me that lack of resources is what prevents them from implementing youth clubs or programs,” said Achtenberg. “Credit unions also tell us that they are waiting until they are `ready’ to use our services. If you don’t reach young members by the age of 25 then you’ve just cut your chances of having them as members in half and it could be too late.” Achtenberg advises credit unions get young people involved early at every level whether it is having them just talk about their likes and dislikes, being a part of the board, hiring them as interns or writing newsletters. According to market research firm RoperASW’s “2003 Roper Youth Report”, parents say 8-17 year olds are playing a larger role in household purchasing decisions. In addition, more 8-17 year olds are saving up for things they want to purchase such as clothes (up 8% from last year to 32%), shoes (up 5% from last year to 15%) and music (up 3% from last year to 13%). Some 25% report they are holding on to their money because “it’s good to save,” up from 21% last year. However, saving for college or school has dropped to 29% from 34% last year. NYIB is also heading the financial literacy push at both the legislative and credit union levels. Several states have requested that personal finance education be included in school curriculum; and more and more credit unions see the importance of educating young people and recognize their role in doing so. According to NYIB, credit unions reached 70% more students this school year than last with 405 classroom presenters. “We are working closely with CUNA and the lobbyists for SB 1532, the bipartisan Financial Community Outreach Act of 2003, and we are letting state constituents know the details about the bill,” said Achtenberg. “This year we reached 213,035 students – a 41% increase over last year. It is a big deal and that is with a lot of credit unions that don’t know to report their results to us. I can’t stress how important it is for credit unions to report their classroom presentations to our Web site. We use that information to help show legislators the proof that credit unions are doing what the competition can’t.” Achtenberg says this year’s conference saw a 20% increase and she credits the high attendance to a revamped more interactive format which included having a panel of students from high school and elementary school on hand to serve as a live marketing focus group ready to answer questions from the audience. Parents were also on hand to offer their insights and needs. “Every year we try to do more and make sure we have a mix of youth experts, speakers and some credit unions that are successfully serving younger members share their stories,” said Achtenberg. Also on this year’s agenda is a new branding campaign to make more credit unions aware of NYIB’s many offerings. [email protected]

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