Greater Nevada CU Transforms Communities Through Fin. Ed.

Michelle Hale, Greater Nevada Credit Union Community Outreach Supervisor

This week concludes Financial Capability Month. The California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues have been celebrating credit unions and the important role they play in financial literacy. In this feature, Michelle Hale, community outreach supervisor at Greater Nevada CU, discusses the credit union’s financial literacy efforts and her role in driving that mission.

Please tell us about Greater Nevada CU’s focus on financial wellbeing.
Greater Nevada CU has been a financial wellbeing supporter for many years. During the pandemic, they saw the growing financial uncertainty. The percentage of Americans who are not financially healthy increased drastically over the past two years. They want to let their community members know that they were not alone, and that Greater Nevada CU was here to assist in the efforts to decrease those percentages.

Greater Nevada CU’s Community Outreach has always offered free programs to the public through Bite of Reality, EVERFI, and Balance. Greater Nevada CU is making its mission to put financial education front and center. Outreach took education a step further and began having virtual classes during the lunch hour. It will be introducing evening classes soon. Greater Nevada CU offers financial education to its business and community partners. Outreach has built a rotating four-week and eight-week curriculum for at-risk community programs like the Eddy House and Casa de Vida.

Greater Nevada CU has built products that could help strengthen a member’s financial future. They have an account that teaches members to save called the "I Can Save" account and first-time homebuyers programs to help borrowers move into their first home. Greater Nevada CU’s consumer lending department has short-term loans that will help members stay away from predatory lenders.

Tell us about Bite of Reality® and other youth financial education programs you deliver in your community.
Bite of Reality will always be my favorite program. The Richard Myles Johnson Foundation has created an incredible program that allows teens to get a taste of adulthood through a simulation. The program has an application that makes it easy for the students to learn during the event. We used this program for students from middle school up to the college level. It is a fan favorite. Once an organization or school finally sees the event in action, they are immediately requesting us to return for an encore performance.

When we are not putting together Bite of Reality simulations, we are teaching Banking 101, classes utilizing EVERFI, and a three-class curriculum on skills, income, and expenses. We have choices of virtual or in-person learning.

What is your role at the credit union, and how does financial education fit into that?
I am the Community Outreach Supervisor for Greater Nevada CU. I supervise, coordinate, and budget the credit union and its affiliates’ community outreach initiatives. With my executive team, I research areas in the community where Greater Nevada CU can "help more people live greater." It is not just about writing a check to an organization. It is about how our internal members can assist through volunteering and partnering with an organization. It is about teaching the community how to make the right financial decisions.

Part of those initiatives is providing education to promote financial empowerment for our community members. My team provides education to many different demographics through virtual and in-person classes. We even tailor programs based on the organization. I could not expand this program without my team and their passion for financial education.

What does the future of financial wellbeing look like and what role do you expect credit unions to play?
I want to take our community beyond financial wellbeing. I want community members to be financially empowered to make positive choices to continue to better their lives. Greater Nevada CU has just received its new Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) certification. I am hoping with this certification Greater Nevada CU can continue to build financial products that can change the lives of individuals who are struggling to find the American dream of being financially secure and buying a home.

Describe a typical (or your favorite kind of) day in your work life.
I think I have my best day swimming through the diversity of my position. April is always my favorite month because it is my birthday month, and we get to celebrate Financial Capability. I love starting the morning by chatting online with my team about our day's schedule. One of the high schools has a Senior Success Day, and we are the start of the program by using the Bite of Reality simulation. Professionally dressed, the students have a career fair right after the simulation. I love interacting and laughing with the students. I see their frustration during the event and see the "aha" moment at the end of the event. I love the smiles of my volunteers as they successfully did their jobs as salespeople. After I concluded the simulation and career fair, I start back to my office. I sit at my desk, work with my team on community events and plan our next adventure.

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