These vital programs not only save Montanans dollars, they reinforce that
credit unions are the best option for consumers. The VITA program embodies
so many credit union principles; it's a natural fit for credit unions!"
The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) raises charitable funds, runs innovative programs, and
makes impactful grants for America\u2019s credit union movement. NCUF\u2019s mission is to \u201cpromote and
improve consumers\u2019 financial independence through credit unions.\u201dAmong the NCUF programs
achieving this mission:
REAL Solutions\u00ae is the signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation. REAL \u2014 \u201cRelevant, Effective, Asset-building, Loyalty-producing\u201d\u2014 Solutions\u00ae works to help credit unions offer a wide range of products and services that have proven successful in serving working families with low wealth and modest means. Using product/business models created and tested by credit unions, REAL Solutions\u00ae disseminates information to credit unions through special meetings, anonline impact center at
program, REAL Solutions\u00ae was adopted in 30 states and is saving members tens of millions of dollars. It
has now become a documented business strategy for credit unions to grow their memberships by
serving the underserved. Real people with real needs are finding REAL Solutions\u00ae at credit unions.
(MCUCD), a nonprofit organization working to foster financial independence for all Montanans. Jeanne and her team work with credit unions across the state to implement empowering programs that improve the social and economic well-being of Montanans.
Jeanne has 20 years of credit union service in Montana, and has been Executive Director of MCUCD
since its inception in 2003. Under her leadership, MCUCD has garnered more than $1 million in grants
and contributions for MCUCD and partner projects, and its programs have reached over 50,000
MCUCD was recently awarded the 2009 Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Organization by
the National Credit Union Foundation. This award is given to recognize emerging leaders of the credit
union movement who are blazing new frontiers to make personal financial independence a reality.
c/o National Credit Union Foundation
601 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20004-2601
Phone: 800.356.9655, x6770
REAL Solutions\u00ae, the signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF),
provides support, tested business models and tools to leagues and credit unions helping them
to provide new and additional financial products and services to families of low-wealth and
modest means. To date, over 700 credit unions in 34 states and 32 state-level trade
associations are actively seeking to reach emerging markets including immigrants, young
people, persons with disabilities and low-wage households.
To bring information to leagues and credit unions in the timeliest fashion, NCUF hosts an online
impact center athttp://realsolutions.coop, full of REAL Solutions\u00ae product innovations, case
studies, and tested business models. Some of our state leagues/associations also feature Web
sites to give their participating credit unions access to the most up-to-date state-specific
This article is the fourth installment in a monthly series of interviews designed to provide REAL
Solutions\u00ae League Liaisons and other league staff up-to-date strategies used by their peers to
grow their REAL Solutions\u00ae efforts. This interview describes the efforts of the Montana Credit
Unions for Community Development (MCUCD) and REAL Solutions credit unions to develop a
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for Montana consumers. Please learn more
from this interview with Jeanne Saarinen, MCUCD Executive Director, and Robert Coble,
MCUCD VITA Program Manager.
MCUCD began its formal partnership with REAL Solutions in the summer of 2007, after
attracting sufficient grant funding to support the program. The Kellogg Foundation and
Consumer Credit Counseling Services of Montana provided $45,000 to enroll in REAL Solutions
and hire staff, and NeighborWorks Montana provided $20,000 toward a guarantee fund to
reimburse 33% of credit union losses on their payday loan alternative products.
In September 2007, in conjunction with the statewide Annual Montana Credit Union Network
Systems Conference, MCUCD and REAL Solutions field coach Nancy Pierce led the
introductory meeting of Montana\u2019s efforts to combat predatory lending.
\u201cFive of the seven credit unions in my community collaborate to provide VITA sites. It\u2019s a
great gift to the residents of Butte and a marvelous opportunity for us to showcase the
credit union differences \u2013 people helping people, cooperation, and outreach to
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?