WASHINGTON — The National Credit Union Foundation has chosen Carol Schillios, a woman known for her work among the impoverished of the world and for training credit unions for its Herb Wegner Award for Individual Achievement.

In addition to training more than 300 credit unions in 41 states about the way they can reach out to their members from all economic strata, Schillios has worked with some of the world's neediest people–and equally well with their nations' presidents and dignitaries–by forming cooperative partnerships that provide access to affordable credit, education and health care worldwide, the Foundation said.

Schillios' current projects are changing lives in Mali, Senegal, and Zimbabwe, Africa, and HoChiMinh City (Saigon), Vietnam. Her hands-on work focuses on improving quality of life for women and their families. "Before Carol's teaching, their livelihood depended on begging in the streets for money," said Earlene Fantz, president/CEO of American Lake Credit Union in Tacoma, Wash., and volunteer board member of the Washington Credit Union Foundation. "In a matter of months, Carol was able to teach dozens of young women how to own and manage successful cooperative businesses to support themselves and their families." Schillios' results–economic freedom and independence–mirror NCUF's mission: to promote and improve consumers' financial independence through credit unions, the Foundation said. "True to the spirit of the Herb Wegner Award, Carol's work brings pride in the worldwide credit union concept to everyone involved," explained Washington Credit Union League President John Annaloro. "Her partners in teaching micro-finance and self-help include some of the world's biggest economic development agencies: Freedom from Hunger, The World Bank, World Education, and the World Council of Credit Unions." But unlike most foundations on a global scale, the Fabric of Life Foundation and Schillios' Development Foundation are essentially solo projects. Schillios established her foundation nearly 20 years ago to channel donations through legally tax-exempt structures. Donors can contribute funds, volunteer time, or open savings accounts in her projects' start-up credit unions.

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