With nearly half of Middle-Class Americans having little or no savings set aside for emergencies and more than four in ten Americans worrying about how they will pay monthly bills, Virginia Credit Union has made financial education a major priority for its members and the community.

The credit union began tracking the number of individuals reached by its financial education programs several years ago after hiring trained educators to lead efforts in the community. The number of individuals reached has increased year by year. And by far, the number reached in 2017 was the most ever.

Last year 24,254 individuals of all ages participated in financial education programs offered by Virginia Credit Union in the community. The number represents an increase of 40% over 2016.

“Helping people learn to manage their money and develop greater confidence with financial matters is central to our identity and mission,” said Chris Shockley, VACU President and CEO. We see financial health for our members as a core value and we look for ways to include it in every member interaction and every community initiative.”

Virginia Credit Union now has four full-time financial education professionals on its staff. The credit union offers weeklong money camps for teens, adult seminars in budgeting and reducing debt, workshops for teachers, and programs to educate first-time homebuyers. Lesson plans designed by VACU Financial Education Director Cherry Dale, a former public school teacher, cover the basics of budgeting, saving, borrowing, reducing debt, and what to know before a making a major purchase, such as a car.

Young people — reached through workshops at schools, public libraries, and nonprofits — accounted for nearly half of the participants. In 2017 VACU launched a pilot initiative with parent-teacher organizations at several Hanover County Schools to promote savings and financial education. More than 540 students were taught a savings lesson and many opened savings accounts with Virginia Credit Union.

Virginia Credit Union is also active with students at local colleges and universities including Virginia Commonwealth University, Longwood University, Reynolds Community College and John Tyler Community College. VACU programs reached more than 1,900 college students in 2017, compared to 1,100 in 2016.

A financial cooperative serving more than 263,000 members, Virginia Credit Union provides a variety of affordable banking services, loans, mortgages, and financial education resources. Virginia Credit Union is an equal housing opportunity lender and is federally insured by NCUA