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March 2012Vol 3, Issue 3
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We can make a difference
Message From
MCUCD AmeriCorps*VISTA Member 


Eight months ago, I went through the AmeriCorps*VISTA pre-service orientation. The training broadly focused on the concept of "alleviating poverty." As I started to settle in at MCUCD, I found a theme that the trainer had not fully addressed: we are living in an economic reality where a majority of people in our communities struggle financially and could benefit from financial education and consumer advocacy.


In one of MCUCD's brochures, I ran across this quote, "Financial and consumer education is more necessary than ever before to ensure that consumers possess the knowledge and confidence to navigate a complex and unforgiving marketplace. MCUCD aims to provide individuals the resources essential to their stability and long-term success." This idea, tinged with a focused urgency, seems to be central to all of their programs. I am so proud to be serving with an organization that cares so much about the social and economic health of families in Montana, and does so much to address this with the families' future well-being in mind.


Let's celebrate financial literacy month in April! Echoing the MCUCD slogan, it's with our combined efforts that we will make a difference!  


Jami Kirksey  

AmeriCorps*VISTA with MCUCD

In This Issue
Making a Difference
Celebrate Financial Literacy Month
MCUCD Silent Auction
March Consumer Topic
Quick Links  


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Making A Difference


SAFE Program Assists Women in Financial Crisis


Women in Gallatin County have an opportunity to build a more secure future for their families through an innovative new project called SAFE (Securing Access to Financial Education). SAFE provides a free comprehensive financial education class for women in financial crisis to learn about budgeting, credit, and saving for the future. What makes this financial education program unique is two additional features: a matched savings account in which participants' savings are matched dollar-for-dollar up to $250 for a total of $500, and a $300 line of credit for emergencies.


SAFE Program"We are excited to be part of the SAFE project," said Tom Jacobson, CEO of Rural Dynamics Inc (RDI), one of the program partners. "Offering women and families an opportunity to access short-term capital while building for their future is critical to help stabilize someone going through a temporary crisis. We commend the credit unions for taking a lead role in short-term loan products and will do our part to help individuals and families access the financial advising and education they need to thrive."


The SAFE Project is a partnership of the Women's Foundation of Montana, Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (MCUCD), RDI, Rocky Mountain Credit Union and Sky Federal Credit Union. Each partner provides a critical component to the project. The Women's Foundation of Montana, with funding from the Doll Family Foundation, is coordinating the project and providing the funds for the matched savings program. RDI is providing the financial education classes. MCUCD, with members Rocky Mountain Credit Union, and Sky Federal Credit Union, is providing participants with access to a line of credit and a matched savings account.


"Building savings and having access to affordable credit are integral to achieving personal financial security. We're thrilled that the Women's Foundation of Montana developed this innovative SAFE Program to help women in Gallatin County," said Jeanne Saarinen, Executive Director of MCUCD.


Women can learn more about the program and pick up a short application by visiting either Rocky Mountain Credit Union or Sky Federal Credit Union. They can visit the websites of any of the program partners to learn more.  

Celebrate Financial Literacy Month with SAF


Student Assistance Foundation (SAF), a nonprofit organization based in Helena, is celebrating Financial Literacy Month this April by providing free presentations on a variety of financial literacy topics. 


Contact a SAF outreach manager in your area to discuss what is available and schedule an event that will fit your needs. Choose from a variety of topics including budgeting, saving/planning for college, credit basics and credit scores, ID theft, searching for scholarships and much more!

SAF outreach provides education finance planning for students in middle school, high school, college and beyond. SAF is also in your community, presenting at local libraries, the chamber of commerce and other local events. Come meet your neighbors and learn some valuable tools for preparing for college or managing your finances!  


Do you want to provide a financial literacy presentation for your employees but don't know where to start? Afraid of speaking in public? Or perhaps you are part of a group or club in your community that would like to get more information on saving for college? SAF staff are here to help!  

Outreach managers and their contact information can be found on Student Assistance Foundation's website.


SAF's mission is to provide students and families with the knowledge and tools to pursue and fund their post-secondary education. Outreach managers across the state live the mission by providing a range of programs to help students and their families - including grants, scholarships, and community outreach.   

MCUCD Silent Auction


The MCUCD team is looking for donations for this year's Silent Auction, which will be held during the Annual Convention in Billings on April 19.


Every dollar contributed at the Silent Auction goes to support MCUCD's core program areas: Consumer Education, Free Tax Services, Matched Savings Accounts, and Combating Predatory Lending. The Silent Auction is one of MCUCD's few annual fundraising events that contributes directly to funding our core programs and strengthen our mission to improve the social and economic well-being of Montana families. 


Donations are starting to come in, and we already have a variety of gifts. Auction items vary greatly by type and value, so everyone can participate and have the opportunity to support the MCUCD. Thanks to those early birds that have already pledged a gift.   


Consider donating an item(s) to this worthwhile event. Contact MCUCD AmeriCorps VISTA Member Jami Kirksey at (406) 442-9081 ext. 145.

Consumer Topic of the Month

Consumer Protection in the 21st Century

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With technology changing constantly, it's critical today's consumers have the tools to make wise choices. The Consumer Resource Center's March "Topic of the Month," Consumer Protection in the 21st Century provides information to help empower individuals to be savvy consumers.


Visit our Consumer Resource page to access resources for the current "topic of the month," including a newsletter article, poster, resource guide, featured resource, and the same documents from past months. Use them to educate your members, clients and community on consumer topics that will help them through financial highs and lows!