NOTICE: We're moving sites soon! Any discussion posts made after 8PM on Sunday (2/11/2018) may not carry over to the new site.
  1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar


Conferences·Crash·Crash Event·Crash the ACUC·CUNA·Filene·Finance·Gen Y·Ideas·Innovation·Leadership·Meetups·News Release·Professional Development·Updates

Denver, we’re coming for you!

In just under 6 weeks we’ll be in Denver, CO. where we will join credit union professionals from all over the world at the co-chosted World Credit Union Conference and America’s Credit Union Conference by World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

Remember, everything we do is made possible thanks to CUNA! Crash Denver is happening thanks to Fiserv.

We’ll be calling our little excursion; Crash Denver. At Crash Denver, our Crashers will be put through their paces to help build a new credit union business model aimed at the next generation of consumers! This is an exciting opportunity for our group to really put something together which can have real impact in our industry.

We have also been warmly invited to join WOCCU’s World Young Credit Union People program for their events – so our Crashers are certainly going to be working hard!

We will have a reception on Tuesday night of the conference too, which all are welcome to attend. Watch this space!

In the mean time, why don’t you look below to meet our Crashers:

Abram Rodriguez, Border Federal Credit Union, Texas

Alycia Kaiser, Limestone Federal Credit Union, Michigan

Amanda Carrozza, Eagle One Federal Credit Union, Pennsylvania

Amberlee Payne, High Plains Federal Credit Union, New Mexico

Chad Maheux, Seasons Federal Credit Union, Connecticut

Dainelle Riley, USF Federal Credit Union, Florida

Denice Saucedo, North Side Community Federal Credit Union, Illinois

Ryan Manis, Kohler Credit Union, Wisconsin

Shelley, Ennis, New Castle County School Employees FCU, Pennsylvania

Spence LaCroix, Jefferson Financial Credit Union, Louisiana

Collaboration·Crash the ACUC

Gaining trust just got a little easier!

Take the words Truth and Trust and drop the endings, but hang on to them. What do you get? Tru! Tru is another meaning to the “doing” you should be focusing on in life. A group of 15 young professionals from credit unions all over the U.S. and Canada were chosen to make an impactful action in this world. We call ourselves Crashers. We crashed a conference last June 2012 called the ACUC (America’s Credit Union Conference), but had this fantastic opportunity of designing a prototype to help the under banked. Now, I know these opportunities to collaborate with people your own age and potentially make a huge difference do not come by this easy. Our goal was to make the consumers lives better by providing the most financially sound solution for their needs.

We could’ve sat in a boring meeting sitting around and brainstorm ideas from paper, but we never would’ve had that “spark” that ignited our thoughts. You may ask what this spark is… well…it can be summed up in two words: design thinking.  Going outside the limitations of pen to paper. We could talk for days about design thinking, but I’ll give you a quick cheat summary.

We’ll start with our definition: “the process by which designers, researchers, and practitioners come together in an effort to find practical and creative solutions to problems of human understanding.” I’ll help by breaking it down a little more. As design thinkers we seek to understand the human behavior by immersing ourselves in the lives of people by simply talking to people with in-depth interviews, observations, shadowing, and the cataloging of material environments. I am going to throw this word out there and if you don’t know it, that is fine. Ethnocentrism. Make this word part of your world but don’t follow it because trust me, it changes your views. It simply means, judging another’s culture solely by values and standards of ones own culture. BEWARE OF THE DOG! We’ve all seen those signs… well BEWARE OF ETHNOCENTRISM! You don’t want to start thinking because it’s going to limit you from understanding someone.

Our group of 15 Crashers had the amazing opportunity to actually video tape our week in beautiful San Diego working with each other and staying away from ethnocentrism. We examined what solutions already existed in the world as well as interviewing real people. We met with 6 different people with 6 different views on financial institutions to hear their stories and get a glimpse of their situation and lives. We took the observations and placed them on post it notes all over the room. This was a different way of brainstorming and gave us the chance to look outside of the box. After all of the design thinking changed the room’s atmosphere, we decided on one idea and voted on it. That idea became the amazing concept of Tru Circle solution.

Tru Circle isn’t just a name; it’s the way of helping the unbanked. It’s the alternative lending product for credit unions allowing them to help the unbanked to obtain credit, while steering clear of high payday lender fees and other predatory lending practices.  We need to help the unbanked. We wouldn’t be able to reach our human base solution and develop a prototype without the design thinking process. Truly, changed my mindset and my way of thinking. You should try it; it makes a difference.

Collaboration·Community Development·Crash the ACUC·NCBA

A Bunk Bed Challenge…

Have you ever been a part of a bunk bed challenge? Well, now you are.

Crissy Cheney (wife of Bill Cheney, CEO of Credit Union National Association) first introduced The Cooperative Trust to a project near-and-dear to her heart during a Crasher session at ACUC in San Diego this past June. She asked for our help and we agreed to get the youth movement involved.

An orphanage in rural Kenya, called the Busia Compassionate Centre, houses 90 orphans and more than 150 foster children. Needless to say–but I’ll say it anyway– without such places, these orphaned children would have nowhere else to turn.

The World Council of Credit Unions together with the international credit union movement stepped in to provide critical support when no one else would. Now in their third year of this initiative, they’re focused on helping the orphanage become sustainable in meeting the children’s basic needs.

Personal space and a safe comfortable place to sleep is perhaps one of the most basic of basic needs. When Crissy told us our donations could easily provide these essentials, we set a goal of raising $500—enough to buy the orphanage 2 bunk beds (and mattresses).

Many of the Crashers donated right away that sunny day in San Diego. Then we spread the message to others in the Trust community and got more donations. After the USA Cooperative Youth Council meeting at the NCBA Conference in Seattle this October, we asked again and were amazed by everyone’s generosity as even more donations came in. THANK YOU to those who contributed so far—because of you, we met our $500 goal! How cool is it to say we all bought 2 bunk beds for kids in Kenya?!

A lot cooler than saying I bought a sandwich and a latte, that’s for sure. But not as cool as saying we bought 4 bunk beds for kids in Kenya. So here’s my bunk bed challenge: can we spread the word and donate another $500—raising our cooperative effort to $1,000 by the end of January? Based on the success we’ve had so far, I have a feeling we can!

Here’s how donations work: WOCCU is keeping track of the total funds we raise for the orphanage. Go to:, fill in the form and in the Comments section, include “Busia Building Trust.” Then we’ll keep you posted on the challenge here and on Twitter (@trustdotcoop).

Crash the ACUC·Professional Development

Crash the ACUC Recap: Presentation Style

We’ve posted a number of updates from Crash the ACUC, but had two additional and more formal recaps we wanted to share.

Collaboration·Crash the ACUC·Innovation

Show and Tell from Crash the ACUC

The ACUC Crashers are coming home with a little show and tell!  Well – a lot to show and tell.

The team of under-30 year olds (myself included) that “crashed” the American Credit Union Conference in San Diego on June 16 spent their free time from the conference coming up with better ways to serve our UU community…You know – the underbanked and underserved.

Our solution spawned from a series of research assignments, including individual hour long interviews with 7 different locals that fit in either (UU) category.  Internet research is great, but having someone sit in front of you and explain why they have lost faith in the financial services industry, or have decided to go it alone makes you want to push the Panera Bread aside and listen up!

Surprising enough – the similarities between the 7 individuals jumped right to the front.  They all experienced some sort of personal hardship, including death, abuse, or even STD (sexually transmitted debt – thanks @mstorck), were forced to lean on others in their community to make ends meet (which they thoroughly enjoyed), were extremely philanthropic, and were some of the most creative people we have ever met.  To give you an idea of their creativity and philanthropic spirit – one interviewee fixed up donated motor homes and passed them along, while another reconditioned thrown away furniture by applying wallpaper to them.

What did we get from all this?

The Tru Account.  The deposit/lending circle that lets the participants lean on each other, instead of the financial institution.

How does it work?

The Tru Account is a product that allows up to five personal friends to add equally to a joint savings account through automatic payroll distributions until it reaches a minimum threshold – say $500.  At this point, someone in the circle may use the funds to take out a secured loan.  There is no risk to the financial institution – and the community gets to formally place faith in their friends.  Once the funds are paid back, or the account reaches another benchmark, someone else in the group can borrow against it.  This process will not only engage a demographic that is not currently utilizing credit union services, it will assist in establishing, or re-establishing a positive pay history for all of the participants.

Participants will sign a “Trust Contract” to enroll in the program that will outline the commitment they are receiving from the credit union, as well as the risks and benefits of borrowing money from/with their fellow participants.

Why will it work?

We were told over and over again that their trust was strongest in their community, not “the man.”  By allowing the participants to choose who they enroll with, it shifts control back to the members.

Taking peer-2-peer to the next level

We are well aware that peer-2-peer lending is not new.  We found other examples of this occurring in the US, and all over the world.  Our Tru approach to circle lending brings users into the financial services world on their terms, while educating them on the proper uses of financial products.

Participants will be assigned a (credit union employee) coach, and receive financial education while they are participating in the program.  The formalized program will allow for successful borrowers/circles to educate others and continue to facilitate their desire to help others – that is what we are all about, too!

Plus, our program places an emphasis on graduation rates and credit score migration.  We do not want the same individuals to be in the program for extended periods of time.  Our goal is to get these new members fully involved in our credit union, and ultimately provide them the benefit of the additional products and services they have not been able to access in the recent past.

It took us 1 day to come up with this crazy scheme, and a few more to knock out the details.  Stay tuned as we publish more information and drag everyone along the journey of pitching this concept to an eager credit union.

Want to meet the masterminds behind the Tru Account?  Visit the Meet the Crashers page!

Collaboration·Crash the ACUC·Professional Development

Our two cents from Crash the ACUC

I think it is quite clear – “Crashing” is a lot more than just attending another conference.  Below are quotes from the recent attendees of the Crash the ACUC session.  I’ve trimmed up the content a bit and have taken the liberty of highlighting what I think is most profound…Overall flavor – productive and enjoyable!

Heather Haselwood

I could talk about what I learned about credit unions and how this was such a great opportunity all day. But I think we all learned a great lesson here on collaboration, especially on prototype day.

We learned that in order to design something successful (whatever that means to you), you’ve got to have people in the room with opposing viewpoints, and you’ve got to have the bridges between the opposers. We could have easily divided and come up with two failed prototypes. One version that our intended audience would never want to participate in, and one that we could never conceptually sell to credit unions because there’s no viability. We knew that. But we also had human bridges that made navigating those opposing viewpoints much easier.

Those people who were comfortable discussing between the two groups? Those were the bridges that made our collaboration possible.  I also think that we all deserve some praise for the fact that no one took anything personally and everyone was extremely respectful. We were also able to drop pet ideas we each personally had, and say, “You’re right, let’s work your change in.” Which sad to say, is in my opinion pretty damn amazing and atypical. And I think we should be proud about that specific fact. We lived up to the name Cooperative Trust, and it’s a model that can be replicated back home by having the right viewpoint distribution in the room.

Chris Bower

I believe that we truly designed something special. It may not be 100% original but it’s not 100% out-of-the-box either. It took all viewpoints (internally and externally) (CRASHERS & interviewees) to really start to understand the target market we set out to serve. I also think that we developed a scalable idea.  This can benefit the $10m CU and the $5b CU (potential) membership. It was great to work with each and everyone of you. Thanks for a great week!!!

Peter Schaefer

I am proud that we came up with an idea that will genuinely have an impact on the UU segments. Brandon was right in that we could have chosen the easier idea, but with so many amazing people (Crashers and guests) around it was to our benefit that we go for the big, hairy goal. It was a unique opportunity to use everyone’s special set of skills (just like Liam Neeson). In retrospect, I would have been disappointed had we only created a trust contract or something similar. Instead, we came up with a plan, while not 100% original, that could truly change lives.

It was great to see someone rein in the group when we started going off topic or strayed from our primary objective. This was most definitely a team effort.

Corlinda Wooden

This week has been simply amazing and I am truly grateful for the opportunity. This was by far the best conference and Crasher experience I have ever attended. It was wonderful to get to know and collaborate with so many amazing people who have such a strong passion for humanity and the credit union movement.

Sunday was such a unique learning opportunity for us to learn new human design strategies and then actually be able to apply them with interviewees from the public as well as the rest of the week with each other while we created our TRU Circle prototype. At the end of our time together I felt a gamut of emotions ranging from pride for our accomplishments, exhaustion from our hard work (and play), and invigoration for the future. I am excited to apply everything I have learned back at home. Thank you everyone for contributing to this Pantherific experience.

Dillon Tardiff

The word Crash to me was: bringing ideas together and challenging each other to solve one problem. The experience that I had at Crash the ACUC was one for the books. I have never experienced a group of people who worked well together to try and better people in this world. Julie said, “beware of ethnocentrism; judging another’s culture solely by values and standards of ones own culture”. This quote was the basis of our problem on how to help the underserved. Instead of us discussing ideas of what we thought the underserved were and how they got there, we really couldn’t relate. Once we had the opportunity to interview people who are affected by financial institutions we started to get these “ah hah” moments.

One thing that stood out for me was the word community. People rely on others who are in their community to help out and all of us “crashers” come from different areas and acted like one community working together to help others. I am very thankful to those who gave me the chance to work with others to design think, something that hopefully will change the word “banking”. I know this is a great beginning to the TRU Circle Project and I am very excited to see the future. The bond that we created just within a few days shows how great the future is and we can one day help more people.

Richard Reinders

I too would like to thank everyone for being a pretty great bunch of people. It truly is not easy to stay civil when you have all the makings of a blow up (hunger, exhaustion, passion) so that was pretty amazing. The next think tank meeting at our credit union is tomorrow and it would be nice to have that same spirit live on. Let’s keep active on this forum as a team and keep the idea moving to at least a pilot.

Emily Nail

When I won the chance to go to the ACUC, I thought- Awesome- a trip to SanDiezzy! After the trip however, I think, wow- we are servers of financial conveniences. I, being newer into the CU movement, have never experienced the aha moment sitting in a “Bankers” meeting- but did this past week when I sawour group and several others at the conference wanting to serve. Not only did we come up with a great project to serve, but we never really discussed “how can we make money” or “how profitable can we make this product”. It is just not CU jargon and I really like it.

Like everyone else second (or third or fourth) the thank you to everyone for providing such a great learning opportunity and having fun during the process. I truly am blessed for having such a phenomenal opportunity to take advantage of!

Josh Logemann

I would like to start by saying thank you to everyone. One of the things I enjoyed most about Crashing the ACUC was getting to know everybody each day, and working with such a passionate team. Echoing what was said from earliers posts, collaboration and hard work are two key words that I will take away from this trip. Even though we all had many different ideas of how to solve our problem, we all worked together as a team with one final goal in mind. Another highlight of my trip was interviewing our volunteers. This is something that I will never forget. I will always keep (our interviewee) Susan’s story in the back of my mind when speaking to credit unions, and how we can improve our business of helping people.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity.

Sarah Glegorio

Crashing the ACUC in San Diego with all of you was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was awesome to see the big picture credit union movement a step back from the daily grind of nitty gritty details. I don’t think I would have ever gotten such a comprehensive glimpse at the CU movement otherwise.

The teamwork was none other than stellar. I am very impressed by and honored to call my fellow Crashers my colleagues. The energy, dedication and motivation displayed by everyone was and is amazing.  I really appreciate that everyone took ownership of the project and really stepped up to make it happen by finishing out a 14 hour day. I also really appreciate that everyone voiced their opinions throughout the week thus allowing us to take into consideration a myriad of different perspectives to arrive at the best possible decisions. Let’s keep the collaborative momentum going!

Karina Farr

What a rare opportunity we had last week in San Diego. Of all the conferences I’ve attended, this was the best by far because of the Crash group. There is always wisdom and insight to be had from the keynote speakers and break-out sessions, but I often forget the messages within days of getting home. This time though, so much has stuck with me. Having the group of you to discuss, reflect, debate and work with as we tackled a deep and broad issue made the whole experience so much more impactful. We were trying to apply what we were hearing immediately to the problem we were solving. Similarly, I feel like the relationships between us are real. We weren’t just a group of conference attendees sharing meals and making small talk — we got to know how each other think, where each of us excel and how to built off of the diversity of views and opinions to make our project stronger. Thank you all for an incredible experience.

Mike Akers

My general rule of thumb is that a conference should provide a minimum of 2-3 little ideas or concepts to be worth your while. For this conference to have resulted in a full blown product that was created to provide access and financial development for the underserved is a credit unionizers dream!

I learned about the opportunity with the Cooperative Trust network only weeks before the actual conference, so I went in not fully realizing the scope of the commitment/opportunity. I was not only impressed, but also slightly intimidated by the eclectic group of “Crashers” upon entering our first session. I am typically the outspoken, over-involved participant, and this time there were 14 more people just like me! Despite our 15 strong personalities (each having it’s own voice and approach), we were an extremely cohesive group and never got shaken by obstacles or objections. We constructed a way for locals to help other locals (sound familiar), and outlined the program from start to finish in a few (long) days. If we could all get our CUs to move that fast, the banks would really be in trouble! I feel like the Cooperative Trust did an excellent job of finding a group of individuals with different backgrounds, opinions, and experiences, although each of us knew the meaning and power of teamwork. The results were truly awesome.

Thanks so much for the experience!  “Crasher” is a title I wear with pride!

Meghan Stork

Crashing the ACUC is a journey quite difficult to put into words. Throughout the Crash I kept a few notes of my emotions, and I am still finding it hard to articulate correctly. My emotions ranged from curious and inundated to touched and exhausted. Somehow I was never tired of “crashing,” and by the end of the week things were clear. If I had to choose one word to describe this experience, epic would be it.

I cannot say enough how much I learned and developed from this experience. I took so much from the conference as to how the structure of the credit union works. I am still in admiration of how many amazing people were at the Crash sessions and the amount of planning that went into this. Design thinking with Julie on Sunday was a powerful experience; interviewing real people changed my perspective immensely.

Collaboration left a huge impression on me, so many different ideas and such a diverse team, yet we created a respectful and safe environment to voice and challenge our ideas. This led us down a path to an amazing project to help the underbanked and underserved market. Which, by the way, I am so proud to be a part of! I’m honored to call myself a “2012 ACUC Crasher,” and without sounding like a cheezeball, I have made friends with a cream of the crop group. I am looking forward to what is in store for all of us. Thank you so much for sharing this opportunity with me!

What’s Next

This length and content of this post is in a way, reflective of the week we had in San Diego: long and meaningful.  On behalf of the rest of our team, we can’t wait to share more details on the product we are developing.


Community Development·Crash the ACUC·Ideas

Homework for our ACUC Crashers

Father’s Day this weekend will look a little different for some members of our community.  Crashers attending this year’s ACUC in San Diego will be spending a full day on Sunday in a workshop facilitated by Julie Norvaisas.  Through her direction, we’ve been able to get the group geared up by giving a few homework assignments.  Get caught up by going through the three assignments below.

Homework #1

Check out this video (TED Talk – Tim Brown – IDEO) on Design Thinking, from a designer’s perspective:

A few things to ponder after watching:

What is our question?  We will focus on this question to guide us: “How might Credit Unions reach out to those among us who are currently unserved or underserved by traditional financial institutions?”

Of course, many more questions will follow this core question of ours.  Who are these people? Why are they un- or under-served? What are they doing now to manage daily tasks involving money? What are motivations, values, needs? What are opportunities? We’ll consider all this and more.

Homework #2

Get smart by doing a little Secondary Research.

LEARN AND SHARE 3 findings about this market in or across any of the topic areas below, that will help give us a baseline understanding.  A few starter-questions for each topic area are listed below, but don’t feel limited by them. Seek answers to the questions you have!

  1. History: How have people come to be un- or underserved by financial institutions? How did people manage their money 100 (or 1000!) years ago? Can we learn anything from a look at how people and financial institutions in other countries or cultures manage and have managed money?
  2. Competition: Who is out there in the world right now to serve UUs? Who are the players? What can you glean about their strategies from their marketing and products?
  3. Tools/Products: What are UUs doing and using now to meet their money-management needs? What products and services serve them?
  4. Trends: What’s the word on the street? What are new and innovative financial (and other related or adjacent) products and services that might serve this market?
  5. Technology: What consumer technologies and solutions are being used and emerging that we might be able to use in our concepts? What about technologies being used at financial institutions?
  6. Market: How big is the UU market and how do people commonly think about segmenting or categorizing it?

Homework #3

Write 5 to 10 questions.

Imagine that you are sitting with an individual who is unserved or underserved by traditional financial institutions.  Picture this scenario very vividly – you never know, it might just happen! What do you want to ask them?  Don’t worry too much about crafting them too carefully – we’ll gather everyone’s questions during our workshop and talk about asking good questions and interviewing techniques. Just stick to the things you are really curious about!

As you write, consider this quote from anthropologist and ethnographer Clifford Geertz: “Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun… I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretative one in search of meaning.”

What’s Next

Our group of fifteen heading to ACUC this weekend have had their schedules packed before hitting the road.  As they catch up on sleep and prepare for their busy week ahead, share any additional thoughts or questions you have below.  We’ll be on the lookout for feedback before our workshop on Sunday.

Watch out San Diego, the Crashers are coming!

To start connecting please log in first.