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A conversation with Gigi Hyland, Executive Director, National Credit Union Foundation

So tell us, what’s new?

The National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation) is the charitable arm of the U.S. credit union movement, serving as a catalyst to improve people’s financial lives through credit unions.The Foundation’s vision is making financial freedom achievable through credit unions, and to be a catalyst to improve people’s financial lives through credit unions.

What’s the impact this has had/or you hope it will have on moving financial literacy forward?

The Foundation seeks to achieve this vision through three primary pillars of work:

  • Ignite credit unions to place employee, member, and community financial well-being at the center of their strategy by funding catalytic grants, holding convenings, offering resources and tools to ignite credit unions to center their strategy on financial well-being for all.
  • Inspire credit unions to leverage their cooperative values to reinforce an organizational culture that empowers and motivates employees by celebrating, developing, and helping retain talent at credit unions by offering education and engagement opportunities that align purpose with action.
  • Respond when disaster strikes and help credit unions increase their business resiliency through the cooperative value of “people helping people.” This work happens by assisting credit unions, their employees, and volunteers to continue serving members when disaster strikes through ongoing fundraising, grant making, and resources. Over $9.5 million has been granted for disaster relief since 2005.
Under the Ignite pillar, the Foundation provides innovative impact grants. One example is our Side Effects™ Project that profiles the financial crisis of cancer hiding in plain sight and how credit unions can help. The Foundation has an extensive suite of resources and case studies credit unions can tap into regarding financial well-being for all. In particular, a toolkit developed with the Filene Research Institute helps credit unions commit, assess, plan, and act on financial well-being for all. Additionally, the Foundation collaborates with its state credit union foundation colleagues to produce resources to help credit unions strategically align their philanthropy with their mission. The most recent example — an updated Philanthropy Toolkit that credit unions can use to focus their efforts.

Under the Inspire pillar, the Foundation provides its signature Credit Union Development Education™ Training program. Since 1982, the Development Education (DE) program and its international alumni network has transformed the culture, strategy, outreach, and impact of the credit union movement. Top-level learning includes:

  • The Credit Union Difference: Understand how to communicate and leverage credit unions’ unique business model and cooperative principles.
  • Empathy & emotional intelligence in banking: Create a competitive advantage in a disrupted market.
  • Development issues: Identify and solve challenges preventing the financial health of employees, members, and communities.

Graduates earn their Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE™) designation. This signifies a deep understanding of how credit unions can leverage the cooperative principles to overcome development issues and increase financial health.

Lastly, under the Respond pillar, the Foundation harnesses the collective generosity of the credit union system to help credit union professionals and volunteers recover from disaster so they can help members equally impacted. The Foundation has been involved in providing relief from human created disasters like the Murrah Building bombing in Oklahoma City over 2 decades ago, to hurricanes, superstorms, derechos, floods, and wildfires. This work is uniquely funded within the credit union system for the credit union system.

How do we learn more?

Learn more about our work at