Before you discount your credit union’s chances of attending the Credit Union National Association’s Governmental Affairs Conference in February, check out some of the financial aid offered by the League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates and the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation.
Described as the “biggest credit union advocacy event in the movement,” CUNA’s GAC will take place in Washington D.C. from Feb. 23 until Feb. 27, 2020. Stacey Hand, manager and CEO of Chattahoochee Federal Credit Union, attended the GAC last year for the first time. She said she found the experience invaluable.
“Being from a small town, experiencing the GAC in Washington D.C. was amazing to me,” Stacey said. “By far, hearing Vice President Mike Pence speak was the highlight of my trip. And experiencing members of our credit union family tell inspiring stories of how they helped their communities during natural disasters and other hard times made my heart happy! I learned that advocating for the industry as a whole is a large part of individual credit unions’ successes.”
The experience might be invaluable, but the price tag is very real. Registering for this year’s GAC — which is open now — costs $1,195 for credit unions with more than $50 million in assets. Credit unions with less than $50 million in assets pay a discounted rate of $795.
“These events are an opportunity for credit unions to receive continuing education, updates on industry information and opportunities to network with peers,” said Bobbie Grady, foundation development coordinator for the Southeastern Credit Union Foundation. “Unfortunately, not all credit unions have the budget to take part in these opportunities without impacting their bottom lines. Smaller credit unions, especially, might not have a lot of wiggle room.”
CUNA Mutual Group is running its Small Credit Union GAC Scholarship Contest, which will grant full scholarships to two credit unions with less than $120 million in assets. But additional opportunities for financial aid are available through the League and the Foundation.
That’s how Stacey, whose credit union has less than $16 million in assets, was able to attend the 2019 GAC.
“Chattahoochee Federal Credit Union isn’t likely to be able to take advantage of opportunities like that without help with funding from the Foundation,” Stacey said. “And we received that help. For that, I am truly grateful.”
The Foundation offers scholarships for credit unions of all sizes to use toward LSCU and CUNA educational events. This scholarship for $500 can be used to send any employee or volunteer of a League-affiliated credit union to one event — such as CUNA’s GAC — per year. Credit unions of all asset sizes can apply for this scholarship and requests must be received 30 days before the event. So, credit unions hoping to use the Foundation’s scholarship to attend CUNA’s GAC will need to apply by Jan. 24, 2020.
Bobbi said the Foundation’s scholarship committee will look at the credit union’s financial need, engagement in the movement and ability to pay as criteria for the scholarships.
She also encouraged Alabama and Florida credit unions with less than $50 million in assets to remember that they have $500 available to them in the 2019 Small Asset Size Initiative Account under the member engagement department at the League.
“I would recommend smaller credit unions in Alabama and Florida utilize that money before applying for a scholarship,” she said.