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LLOYDMINSTER, Alberta, Canada — Larissa Walkiw has taken Common Wealth Credit Union’s innovative social media initiative, Young & Free, and is doing what many didn’t think was possible–not only getting credit unions on the Gen Y radar but making them relevant.

Launched in fall 2007, Young & Free is a unique financial services platform created to help credit unions connect with Gen Y on their terms. Built for and with young people’s input, Young & Free has gone beyond just creating a buzz and has become a popular destination for 17- to 25-year-olds.

On an interactive microsite (www.youngfreealberta.com), Walkiw communicates with her peers via blogs, vlogs, YouTube videos and offers polls on everything from finance to pop culture. Considering that the 19-year-old visual artist with a quirky, friendly personality managed to secure 49% of the Young & Free spokeperson votes with her creative video blogs and e-journals, it is no wonder she beat out the competition. And it’s little wonder that the youngfreealberta.com site now attracts an average of 300 hits a day and has resulted in more than 2,000 Young & Free accounts, with total funds held at over $2 million.

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