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Pandemic Response Strategy

Cornerstone Foundation understood the need to take care of Cornerstone-region credit unions and their staff during this unprecedented time. We are proud of our traditional disaster relief efforts and our ability to spring into action when natural disasters strike our region and elsewhere. However, the public health crisis of 2020 was more far reaching than anything we have ever experienced and did not meet our current criteria for disaster relief.

Therefore, we started with the discovery phase of understanding what problems need to be solved today and in the months and years to come. We asked, How can we help in a way that has a ripple effect, spreading from credit union staff to members, using immediate and long-term assistance? In doing so, we also wanted to keep our purpose constant and stay true to our mission of empowering people to improve their financial well-being.

The Foundation’s Pandemic Response Strategy was partially powered by:

Cornerstone Resources
CUNA Mutual Group
Catalyst Corporate FCU
CO-OP Financial Services
CU Solutions Group

Components of the Pandemic Response Strategy

ficep pandemic strategy

Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP)


Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC) Toolkit


Free one-on-one financial counseling


If you have any questions about the Pandemic Response Strategy, please refer to the FAQ.

ficep pandemic strategy

Financial Counseling Certification Program

The Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP) is an enhanced and unique training program for credit union staff that combines the convenience of a self-study program with group hands-on learning. Students learn the skills and knowledge necessary to assist and empower members to improve their financial well-being. Upon completion of the 8-module program, graduates become Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors (CCUFC), which will enable them to reap these benefits:

  • Acquire skills to help those experiencing financial difficulties
  • Reduce delinquencies and charge-offs
  • Grow product and service revenue
  • Demonstrate the credit union difference
  • Attract new members

The Foundation offered two program options: standard or accelerated*.

Accelerated: May 18 through the week of July 24

Standard: June 22 through the week of Nov. 6

Unfortunately, the deadline has passed to participate in the FiCEP program offered through the Pandemic Response Strategy. We are pleased to report that 324 credit union professionals have received their Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor designations through this offering!

2021 program offering: As the pandemic continues, the Cornerstone Foundation understands the increasing need for members and consumers to seek financial counseling. To help you and your credit union meet these needs, the Foundation is offering the FiCEP program for half the cost in 2021. Get more details and register.

If you have questions, please contact us.

* Student understands that, barring extraordinary circumstances, they must complete the full program in the provided time frame (applicable to the pandemic response strategy offering). If not completed, the student will be responsible for reimbursing the Foundation for the original cost of the program, $550.


Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC) Toolkit

There are approximately 1,000 Certified Credit Union Financial Counselors (CCUFCs) in the Cornerstone region. The Foundation provided a CCUFC Toolkit containing resources to help counselors guide their members through these trying times.

The goal of the CCUFC Toolkit is to: 1) empower the CCUFC to be as effective as possible, especially in this time of uncertainty, and 2) continue to build upon their skills and knowledge as they help members navigate their individual paths to financial health.

The toolkit covers the following elements, which are all intricately connected:

  • Finance
  • Coaching
  • Counseling
  • The cycle of change
  • Building relationships



Free one-on-one financial counseling

BALANCEThe Foundation has partnered with BALANCE to offer all 30,152 staff members in the Cornerstone region the opportunity to receive one-on-one coaching with a licensed financial coach/counselor for one year. Participants in this service will receive:

  1. A toll-free hotline (888-456-2227) for credit union staff and their dependents to call with money management questions, schedule appointments for free budget counseling, or request information on a wide variety of financial issues. ** During their first call, credit union staff will need to state that they are with the Cornerstone Foundation, not their credit union.
  2. Free, comprehensive, one-on-one money management, budget, and debt counseling to be provided by telephone.
  3. Educational materials and resources in electronic format to assist with personal finance education and personal financial wellness.
  4. Two free monthly educational webinars.
  5. Credit reports at participant's cost, with access to certified credit report reviewers to clarify content, answer questions, and provide tools to assist with fraud and/or legitimate dispute issues. Participant will be encouraged to request a free credit report. If participant is unable to receive a free credit report, the participant will be charged the current contracted price between BALANCE and the credit reporting agency.
  6. Debt solutions at participant’s cost.
  7. Access to the BALANCE housing department for participants who need special help with housing issues, from first-time home buying to foreclosure prevention.

YES, I would like to offer this service to my credit union staff! What’s next?

  1. Provide the toll-free hotline to staff immediately, OR
  2. To learn more, watch the educational webinar (Password: 8b^gg2$$) or view the flyer, then provide the hotline to staff.

This offering will be available to all credit union staff until Apr. 30, 2022.