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Development Education (DE) Program Celebrates 35 Years
Thursday, July 20, 2017 6:45 AM


Alumni of Foundation’s CU Philosophy Training Gather at Tampa Workshop

Nearly 100 certified Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs) gathered in Tampa, Fla., recently to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Credit Union Development Education (DE) Program. The popular philosophy training program from the National Credit Union Foundation started in 1982 and continues to educate credit union professionals from around the world every year.

The 35th anniversary was recognized during the annual DE Workshop for CUDEs that took place July 11–13, in Tampa, Fla. This year’s workshop was focused on diversity with a special emphasis on all areas of inclusion. In addition to the sessions, CUDEs in attendance raised money to help the Pinellas Hope Shelter furnish 14 recently built apartments for homeless veterans in the area and went onsite to assemble the furnishings. CUDEs also surpassed their fundraising goal, with additional funds going to support more of the homeless Tampa population transition into permanent housing. 

Watch a short video overview of the project.

“The DE Program has grown and improved over the last 35 years, with the focus on helping people gain a new understanding of how to promote cooperative principles and credit union values as distinct advantages in today’s competitive financial services marketplace,” noted Lois Kitsch, national program director for the Foundation. “Every year, we see new CUDEs become passionate advocates of the credit union philosophy, which boosts employee motivation, creativity, and a deeper commitment to their credit union organization and the movement.”

DE Training Class
Attendees of an early DE Training class gather at the St. Benedict Center (now, Holy Wisdom Monastery) where the training was held in Middleton, Wis.

The DE program began in 1982 with a grant to the CUNA Foundation, now known as the National Credit Union Foundation, from the U.S. Agency for International Development (U.S. A.I.D.). At the time, Senators Biden and Pell sponsored legislation which allocated $1 million annually to be used by private voluntary organizations in the United States to fund programs that educate the U.S. public about major development issues related to hunger and economic development, primarily in developing countries. Eighty-eight programs received funding over time, but the Credit Union Development Education (DE) Program is the only one still in existence.

“I was the first CUDE at Coastal FCU, in 2003—or, the ‘best class ever,’” said Chuck Purvis, president/CEO of Coastal FCU in Raleigh, N.C. “My project after the training was to infuse what I learned into our management development and advancement program. Today, we have over 20 CUDEs at Coastal, and my entire senior management team will be CUDEs by the end of the year. The DE program teaches the ‘heart’ of the credit union movement, so I’m using the DE program to ensure that the credit union principles and philosophy will drive decisions at Coastal long after I retire."

Upcoming DE Trainings
The Foundation is holding four DE Trainings this year, all taking place in Madison, Wis. The September and November training sessions are sold out, but the Foundation will be holding another four trainings in 2018. Anyone who is interested in attending a future training can email to be put on a list to be notified when registration is open.

During the week-long program, participants are involved in group exercises, field trips, and discussions with speakers from around the credit union system, and they are required to complete team projects proposing solutions for credit unions to help alleviate or eliminate challenging situations in any given area.

“DE Training was like hitting the refresh button in teaching us how dig deep into our roots, allowing us to rediscover our foundation and purpose,” said Raffo Wimsett, June 2017 DE Training graduate and business development representative senior at Commonwealth Credit Union. “Sounds simple, but with life constantly interrupting, DE strategically slows all your day-to-day worries down by opening your mind to an even bigger picture—our mission! Something we often forget.”

More about the DE Program
The mission of the Credit Union Development Education (DE) program is to promote credit unions’ social responsibility and domestic and international development through interactive adult education and professional networking. By linking credit unions’ past and present, the DE program brings renewed relevance to credit unions’ seven cooperative principles and the philosophy of “People Helping People.”

Since 1982, more than 1,700 credit union advocates from over 35 countries have graduated from DE Training to become Credit Union Development Educators (CUDEs). Once they earn their CUDE designation, people return to their jobs with a sense of personal enrichment and renewed energy to share what they have learned. This growing corps of credit union advocates devotes professional and volunteer time to spreading the credit union message to audiences throughout the country. For more information on the DE program, visit under “How We Help.

About the National Credit Union Foundation (
The National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation) is the charitable arm of the U.S. credit union movement and works as a catalyst to improve people’s financial lives through credit unions. Through grants and programs, the Foundation is strengthening financial well-being, igniting passion and instilling knowledge about the credit union difference, and uniting resources to help credit union people during disaster. Donations to the Foundation ultimately enable credit unions to help their members reach life-changing goals and achieve financial freedom.