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NEW YORK – The National Federation of Community Development Credit Union’s attempt to raise the level of financial literacy received another shot in the arm on October 25 at its Third Annual Financial Literacy Day. Keynoting the event at the $8.2 million Union Settlement FCU, headquartered in Harlem, NCUA Board Chairwoman JoAnn Johnson praised credit union efforts to raise the levels of financial literacy and specifically the Federation’s efforts. The Federation’s efforts go under the moniker of “teach one, teach many” and seek to train financial literacy trainers at CDCUs around the country. The trainers are then able to teach their own communities with the help of curricula the Federation developed through a grant from the National Endowment for Financial Education. Johnson also criticized the disputes between banks and credit unions which limit the opportunities to cooperate in areas of the public good. “Sometimes there seems to be a lot, in my opinion, of unnecessary animosity between the banking and credit union community,” Johnson said. “And I tell you, there is so much more that we can do by working together than by pulling one another apart. I think that financial education is an area where we have a common goal and we can work together, so I encourage [partnerships] every opportunity I get.” As though to symbolize her sentiments, Stacy Cooper, senior vice president of the Long Island-based North Fork Bank, presented the Federation with a $10,000 gift in support of its literacy effort. North Fork has long been a Federation supporter, according to Rafeal Morales, communications officer for the Federation. During her presentation, Johnson also acknowledged the ever-growing problem of rising debt in the United States. “We’re in a different age, and a different generation,” said Johnson. “And we see a lot of credit card debt, especially among the young people. We know that ages 25 and under are the fastest growing age group declaring bankruptcy, in large part due to credit card debt.” According to Johnson, an effective way to address this issue lies in financial education. “Being wealthy doesn’t necessarily mean having a million dollars stashed away. Being wealthy is having that financial independence, and that’s what [financial educators are] working for, to make all of us within the community wealthy, so that people feel good about themselves and live the way they want to live.” Speaker presentations were followed by two breakout sessions focusing on Financial Education and the Youth Consumer and Financial Education Initiatives in New York. -

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