Credit unions in Missouri make financial education a top priority. One example is the CU Excel Center, located in north St. Louis County, which focuses on helping low-to-moderate income residents improve their standards of living. Since opening the CU Excel Center in June 2012, the St. Louis Community CU Foundation and its partners have reached more than 2,200 people with free financial literacy and life skills educational opportunities.
“The CU Excel Workshop has made me realize the seriousness of my financial situation and pushed me to focus on resolving the problems,” writes one attendee of the free classes hosted at the CU Excel Center. “I will definitely apply this to my everyday life.”
Pre- and post-test measures show class attendees have shown a 50 percent increase in basic financial literacy from the time they enter to the time they leave the CU Excel Center.
Course topics touch on a number of areas essential to daily lifestyles, such as budgeting, credit building and/or repair, managing stress effectively, savings accounts, business services, professional development and continuing education. Dedicated subject matter experts including a full-time financial educator and community outreach specialist, social services/community representatives and bank partners teach classes. Classes are offered free of charge to the community.
In addition to the group classes, one-on-one counseling sessions are available for attendees. These are personalized sessions that assist members in various aspects of their lives—from budgeting to strategies on how to reduce debt. Many of the participants find the program as that first major step towards reaching a more stable financial situation.
“I’ve gained a great deal of money smarts from the sessions,” writes Angela H., a participant of the one-on-one coaching program. My financial path looks bright and I’m well on my way to achieving financial stability.”
To maintain the building and its resources, St. Louis Community CU Foundation partnered with several local businesses, and received generous support from both St. Louis Community Credit Union and Carrollton Bank. Representatives from these businesses also teach classes, and provide essential information for a healthy financial lifestyle.
"As a presenter, I was able to deliver valuable information to the community at no cost," says Christin K., business development manager for Enterprise Car Sales. "Not only was the content of this presentation very important, but community members in attendance were able to ask questions and were given contact information for any future questions that may arise.”
Backed by a rich history of financial education, the St. Louis Community CU Foundation and St. Louis Community Credit Union have reached upwards of 20,000 people. The CU Excel Center is located at 95 North Oaks Plaza in St. Louis. The St. Louis Community CU Foundation and Carrollton Bank made the 2,400-square-foot facility possible.
Pictured (top): Financial Education & Community Outreach Specialist Jaison McCall delivers a class on the importance of credit at the CU Excel Center.
Pictured (bottom): The exterior of the CU Excel Center