What is a CUDE?
In 1982, the CUNA Foundation, now known as the National Credit Union Foundation, received a grant from the United State Agency for International Development (USAID) to initiate the DE Program. The early focus of the DE program was to understand global development issues that related to building family financial stability and security in developing countries. 16 development issues were identified and incorporated into the training including such issues as hunger, adequate housing, health, appropriate technology and women in development.
My DE experience began in 1986 when I was a drive-up teller for a small credit union in a very rural community. At that time, the development issues seemed far removed from my work in the credit union. However as the week wore on and in the many years since, I have come to recognize that credit unions are development organizations that have the capacity to truly change the lives of the members they serve.
It may sound corny to say DE changed my life – but it did. During my DE training I had the opportunity to talk a young man from Zambia, a butterfly shaped country in Africa. He told many stories of his work with members and over the hours we spent together he awakened a desire in me to make a difference in developing economies. I promised that I would one day visit his country to work with him and his credit unions. Well, I never made it to Zambia (yet), but I did make it to Senegal and Kenya, and the Philippines, Afghanistan and Ecuador as well as many other countries to carry out my personal DE mission – to bring financial services to those that need them the most. My story can be replicated hundreds of times, as each DE brings back their own mission to their community, their country and their credit union. Today, there are DE programs in 7 different countries/regions including Australia, the Philippines, Asia, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, Europe and the US.
While the DE program continues to delve into development issues that affect developing economies, the primary focus of today’s DE Program, is to understand local development issues and how these issues affect our members and the communities in which they live. Through facilitated discussion, group case studies and problem solving, the DE trainees focus on societal development issues, credit unions social mission and the international credit union operating principles. Motivated with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to their credit union/credit union organization, DEs return home with a passion and desire to serve others and help them achieve their financial dreams – for DE is not about the program – it is about what people take away from the experience and how they use what they have learned to make a difference in those things that are within their immediate control.
Just last week, the fall class of 2012 was held with 42 credit union professionals with varying roles and responsibilities in attendance. Oklahoma’s own Cynthia Campbell (Tinker FCU) was among the group to receive their DE designation. When asked about the program Cynthia said ““DE Training confirmed my career calling. Taking time to remember the operating principals that founded the credit union movement, and then realizing that they are as true today as they were in the beginning is powerful! I am prouder than ever to work in the credit union movement. I have returned to the work that I love - financial empowerment - with a renewed sense of purpose because I have been reminded that my role as a financial educator allows me to live several of the operating principals (service to members, building financial stability, ongoing education, social responsibility) each day. I have always been passionate about financial literacy but DE Training has helped me connect this passion to the credit union movement more fully.”
To learn more about the DE program visit www.ncuf.coop National Programs or contact Lois Kitsch at email@example.com. Scholarship opportunities are available through the Oklahoma Credit Union Foundation.