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November 2011Vol 2, Issue 11
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We can make a difference
Message From


With Thanksgiving next week, we at MCUCD have a lot to be thankful for. We have had a very busy, but successful October! First, 19 Montana credit union professionals became Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors in October, and in addition, 20 non-profit and credit union professionals completed Financial Coaching training. Second, MCUCD and the Montana VITA Partnership were awarded the IRS VITA Grant, providing MCUCD and five other organizations from Montana with program funding allowing us to assist hardworking Montanans in preparing their tax returns. Third, credit unions from all over the state participated in a fundraiser that raised over $1700 for MCUCD and its programs. I hope you'll take the time to read more about our busy and successful October below.


In addition to our successful October, I'm personally thankful for our VITA volunteers! Tax season is right around the corner and, I'm getting back in touch with some of my favorite people: our VITA volunteers! What a great group I get to work with! They go through a lot of work to become certified volunteers--enduring training, IRS certification, and countless other minute details to help those in their communities. They are truly an awesome group to work with!


I hope you and yours have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Rachael Milne
VITA Program Manager

In This Issue
Making a Difference
MCUCD Fall Fundraiser
November Consumer Topic
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Making A Difference


Montana's First FiCEP Class

First FiSEP Group take photo after their certification exam
Montana's first credit union FiCEP class poses, along with
Mark Lynch, their REAL Solutions mentor.

Knowing the consumer need for trustworthy financial guidance while tight credit union budgets often restrict the number of staff able to attend a live training school, Montana Credit Unions for Community Development offered a unique guided self-study financial counseling training program this year that resulted in 19 new Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors from 11 Montana credit unions.  


Combining the lower cost and convenience of the Credit Union National Association's self-study Credit Union Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP) enhanced with webinars and local in-person training and networking, the training enables credit union staff to become more confident in helping members build stronger financial futures. Read more about the enhanced FiCEP program here.


With the help of a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation's REAL Solutions program, MCUCD was able to launch the FiCEP program this year. The guided self-study portion provides bi-weekly interactive webinars on each of the eight FiCEP modules and two live training and testing sessions over a four-month period resulting in participants earning their designation of Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor.


"Financial counseling is something all credit unions should be offering to their members," said Sue Smith, CEO at Ravalli County FCU in Hamilton, MT. "Thank you for providing the opportunity to help us achieve our goal of providing the valuable assistance to our membership. 


 MCUCD's goal is to increase the number of credit unions providing financial counseling to assist Montana residents to successfully manage their money and avoid financial issues such as loan defaults and foreclosures. MCUCD will be working with the credit unions to track the program's impact among their members.


The 19 newly Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors (CCUFC) join Missoula Federal Credit Union's Debra Casper, who earned her designation just over four years ago and has been offering the service to members since. 



MCUCD will continue to increase the number of certified credit union financial counselors in the state with the next session beginning in early 2012 in partnership with NCUF's REAL Solutions program. If you are interested in the FiCEP program, please contact Karen Smith. 





Montana VITA Partnership Receives Support from the IRS

How often do you get to say "Thank You!" to the IRS? How often do you RECEIVE money from the IRS rather than paying them? Well that was the news the Montana VITA Partnership received earlier this month, announcing the award of a federal grant to fund the expansion of our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program in Montana!


Denise Jordan of District 7 HRDC in Billings said it well about the award - "This grant opportunity is so much bigger than just one award. It gives our collaborative partnership the ability to strengthen our access to free services and help the neediest of families reclaim as much of their hard-earned income as possible." 


The Montana VITA Partnership is a coalition of organizations and volunteers around the state providing free tax assistance to low and moderate income taxpayers. MCUCD is honored to partner with the aptly named Montana VITA Partnership (the acronym, after all, is "MVP"). Coalition members and supporters include:VITA - 1040

  • 22 credit unions state-wide
  • Community Action Agencies/HRDCs in Kalispell,
    Billings and Havre
  • MSU Northern, MSU Billings, Fort Belknap College,
    and Flathead Valley Community College
  • Rocky Boy Tribal TANF and Fort Belknap 477 Program
  • Various libraries, community development corporations, churches, and county agencies across the state
  • Montana Department of Revenue
  • Montana Legal Services Association
  • AARP Tax Aide Montana
  • AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, 166 volunteer tax preparers across Montana!

This is the first time the IRS has funded the Montana VITA Partnership. We stand ready to meet the challenge of meeting the grant goals, which include preparing 4,850 tax returns for low and moderate income Montanans. If you are interested in being involved in VITA, please visit or contact MCUCD's VITA Program Manager Rachael Milne.

MCUCD Fall Fundraiser


Minute to Win it!

Janice Lehman - M2WI Fundraiser
Jeanine Blehm (Big Sky FCU) watches closely as
Janice Lehman (SEG FCU) yanks index cards
without toppling the cups.

MCUCD's annual FUNdraiser was held at the Montana Credit Union Network's Fall Forum last week in Bozeman. The MCUCD team hosted the event, based around the popular game show "Minute to Win It". The $25 entry fee went directly to support MCUCD core program areas: Consumer Education, Free Tax Services, Matched Savings Accounts, and Combating Predatory Lending. 


Credit Union colleagues from around the state competed amongst one another for the chance to win Montana-themed prizes. Liz Turner from Badlands FCU triumphed as the grand prize winner, being the sole competitor to win all 5 games. Eight other remarkable participants made it into the tournament, whose battle consisted of bouncing ping pong balls into a buckets secured (mostly) to their head. 


The fundraising evening included the "Minute to Win It" event, as well as a "Heads or Tails" Raffle, which collectively raised $1,700 for MCUCD. The event would not have been possible without the generous sponsorship from CUNA Mutual Group. Thank you, Casey Boyer of CMG!  A big thanks to everyone that participated and made the evening so entertaining.  As you know, your participation supports the work of MCUCD, improving the social and economic well-being of Montanans.

Consumer Topic of the Month
Having a Debt Free Holiday
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Black Friday, one of the largest shopping days of the year, is just over a week away! As the holiday shopping season begins, MCUCD has put together resources for everyone to help plan financially for the season and make good, sound decisions.


Visit the Consumer Topic of the Month to learn more about what you can do to shop smart this holiday season.