In a time when financial institutions are failing — 120 nationwide to date — and becoming increasingly less involved or concerned with the communities they are in or around, there is a shining star in our own backyard that continues to prove that a company is only as good as the community it serves.

On the heels of being named Michigan’s 2009 Outstanding Credit Union of the Year, Communicating Arts Credit Union (CACU) has been awarded the statewide Louise A. Herring Award for Philosophy in Action for its financial and community outreach efforts in the Detroit and Highland Park area and the Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award for its support of Detroit’s Academy of Finance (AOF).  Both awards are sponsored by the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).

“We are extremely humbled and honored to receive these coveted honors,” said Hank Hubbard, CACU president.  “CACU is and will continue to be an organization of service.  An organization determined to give whole-heartedly to its members and the communities in which they live.  ”

The Louise A. Herring Award recognizes credit unions that, in day-to-day operations, demonstrate the credit union philosophy of “people helping people” in an extraordinary way.  CACU won in acknowledgment of its financial outreach efforts to the citizens of Highland Park and its innovative, out-of-the-box community-focused and financial literacy initiatives.   In 2008, the organization opened its doors to a full-service branch — the first one in the city in 20 years — that provides first class, internal programs that are focused on its membership and create services that benefit its members such as:

Save to Win — This exciting product implements the concept of prize-linked savings, and for each $25 a member deposits into this special account, they receive an entry into a drawing for $100,000. It is similar to playing the lottery while keeping the money used for the ticket.

MyPayToday — CACU’s payday loan alternative allows up to two months for repayment, which helps it members avoid falling into the pay day loan trap.  With CACU’s 18 percent interest as opposed to 300 to 400 percent other lenders charge, members save an average of $300 per year.

“Communicating Arts is a very deserving recipient of the Louise A. Herring Award with its community commitment and support for programs like ‘Invest in America’ and Save to Win,” said David Adams, president and CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League.   “By obtaining a Community Development Financial Institution grant, CACU continues its commitment to serving people of modest means as well as the rest of the credit union’s field of membership. The credit union is a great example of how smaller credit unions can be progressive, innovative and committed to service.”

Established in 1987 to promote social responsibility among credit unions, the Dora Maxwell Award is named after a credit union pioneer who worked to improve the living standards of the poor and needy. The award program honors credit unions that go above and beyond the norm in providing financial services by being active in community projects and activities. CACU’s entry was based on its longtime support of the Academy of Finance (AOF), a high school program through Detroit Public Schools that aims to help inner city kids through school while exposing them to the working world of finance.

CACU has been a longstanding, key advocate and supporter of the AOF, a national program overseen by the National Academy Foundation in New York City. The program provides students with exposure to role models in business and finance through classroom presentations, mentors, paid internships, special events such as a pre-internship conference, job shadowing and class trips. The program also offers training in soft skills such as professional dress and office etiquette.

“The National Academy Foundation (NAF) knows first-hand that CACU has gone above and beyond in the area of social responsibility,” said JD Hoye, president of the National Academy Foundation.  “CACU has been involved with NAF’s Academy of Finance at the Golightly Career and Technical Center in Detroit since 1995. President Hank Hubbard has served in many roles for the academy, including Advisory Board co-chair, classroom speaker, mentor, trip chaperone, internship provider and supervisor, and community advocate. NAF truly appreciates the support of CACU in helping prepare high school students for college and careers.”

The award selection committees praised CACU for its community outreach efforts overall.  The organization is involved with numerous Detroit area organizations, including the Highland Park NAACP, Project LoveShare, and Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries, among others.

Opening its doors in Detroit in 1935, CACU has established itself as a household name and financial institution of choice by committing itself to the needs of the community it serves.  Serving those who live, work and worship in the city of Detroit and surrounding areas, CACU has demonstrated that the idea of selflessness is alive and well.

“CACU is one of the only financial institutions in Michigan that is solely dedicated to the Detroit community,” said Hubbard.  “We are not looking to expand into the suburban areas because we realize that we are reaching the demographic that really needs us.”

As the state award winner of the Louise A. Herring Award for Philosophy in Action and the Dora Maxwell Award, CACU will now compete for the national titles which will be announced later this year.    
For more information on CACU, please visit

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