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What could be better than helping to breathe life into members’ dreams? Nothing said A+ Federal Credit Union Community Education Director Dawn Ambuehl-Sadek. “We started asking members “What is your dream?” in 2008 and as they submit their dreams, which we post in different places on our Web site, we set a follow-up process where our certified financial counselors contact them and meet with them personally to help make it happen,” said Ambuehl-Sadek. “It has been very successful and just a month ago a member whose dream it was to go to college and help his parents pay for his education let us know that by the time he graduated he’d saved a nice sum for his college education.” Delivering financial education at every age is how the Austin, Texas-based credit union has positioned itself to stand out from the competition. Founded by teachers in 1949, education has always been the credit union’s mission but a more formalized approach to providing financial education began in 2006. The timing Ambuehl-Sadek said couldn’t have been better since a state law was passed requiring that personal finance be taught in schools. “We made a huge effort to let teachers, school superintendents, anyone in the school district know that we’re here to help them meet that requirement,” said Ambuehl-Sadek. “Here we are in 2009, and you’d be surprised that there are still some teachers out there who don’t know about the personal finance requirement. The key is to find the gatekeeper in that district or a person who is as passionate about personal finance as you to lead you to the gatekeeper so things can get done.” She adds that the current robust offerings of financial education services at the over $750 million credit union developed slowly over time and all began with branch seminars covering topics ranging from budgeting to estate development. From there she then focused on reaching out and getting into schools and now has begun building through the online social media delivery channels. “You don’t ever have to reinvent the wheel. Just define who are your existing members, determine who are the members you want and what are their specific financial literacy needs or wants,” said Ambuehl-Sadek. She pointed to the online community being built by Community Education Specialist Kelsey Balcaitus as an example of the importance of understanding the members you are trying to connect with-in this case Gen Y. “Kelsey manages our Facebook and Twitter presence, and she has been doing an incredible job sharing financial education articles, debunking financial myths, providing useful tips that are really resonating with that generation,” said Ambuehl-Sadek. “We’ve got over 315 friends on Facebook and over 350 followers on Twitter.” –[email protected]

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