In a Nutshell: Baylands Family Credit Union has a long history of promoting financial stability and literacy among its members and communities. The institution takes a proactive approach to financial wellness, and conducts extensive outreach to equip students from elementary through college with the financial knowledge they’ll need later in life. The credit union also teaches students hands-on money management skills through its specialized youth accounts and makes many of its educational resources available online.
On January 22, 1946, nine employees at the Chesapeake Corporation of Virginia in West Point chartered their own credit union. Their mission: to promote financial responsibility among members by providing consumer-centered products and services. Its first office was on the grounds of West Point Paper Mill, and in 1985 the institution opened a corporate office.
The credit union — now Baylands Family Credit Union — kept expanding its operation, but its mission to help its members and communities remained the same.
“Our operation has expanded but we remain focused on the goal of helping all families live better lives in the counties we serve,” said Frederick Hayes, Business Development Representative at Baylands Family Credit Union.
Baylands Family Credit Union is open to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in nine area counties: Chesterfield, James City, New Kent, King William, King & Queen, Middlesex, Essex, Gloucester, and Mathews. The institution prides itself on personal, compassionate customer service and products that help members build credit and improve their overall financial situations. It also emphasizes financial literacy among children and adults in its service areas.
“We are very proactive and partner with organizations that are doing things at local schools, from elementary to college, to assist and give,” Hayes said.
Baylands Family Credit Union also engages in a range of philanthropic activities. Those initiatives allow the credit union to help residents in its nine-county service area lead healthier, more stable financial lives.
Seeds of Success Offers Proactive Credit Counseling
Baylands Family Credit Union offers Seeds of Success, a credit counseling program, free to its members. In the counseling sessions, members and their families can receive one-on-one advice and guidance on improving their financial situations. A qualified professional helps them track expenses, establish a budget and savings plan, and define incremental financial goals to measure their success along the way.
“For a lot of folks, it’s as simple as basically making a budget and sticking to it,” Hayes said. “For others, it’s a matter of resolving problem areas identified on their credit report.”
The program also teaches them the fundamentals of finance and helps to put them on the path to better financial success.
Baylands Family Credit Union’s door is always open to members who have questions about money management, budgeting, or other financial concerns. The institution also prides itself on its proactive, community-oriented approach to outreach.
“If anyone on our member services team recognizes a member that could benefit from financial guidance, they encourage these members to take advantage of our free solutions-focused counseling. Once the connection is made, a customized plan based on the member’s situation can be created and implemented to put the member in a better financial position,” Hayes said. “Our employees care deeply about members because a lot of them know each other, see each other around town, or grew up together. It’s a family focus.”
And that family approach extends to helping children in the community.
Youth Outreach Fosters Financial Literacy
In Virginia, financial education in public schools is mandated by law, putting the state’s students ahead of other states that don’t include financial literacy in educational standards. However, passing a law doesn’t mean students will retain the knowledge.
“It seems like a lot of them may learn just enough to pass the test,” Hayes said.
Baylands Family Credit Union supplements the school system’s curriculum by partnering with local organizations and building financial literacy early in students’ lives. It aims to reach young people through classroom education and hands-on learning experiences. Both of those approaches equip students with the knowledge and skills to manage their money when they start earning paychecks as young adults.
“Some younger kids just have a concept of ‘money comes from mom and dad,’” Hayes said. “When we do a reality fair with some of these kids and actually go through what it’s like to be an adult, (and to) worry about budgeting for a house and transportation, you see something click.”
Baylands Family Credit Union’s efforts extend beyond the classroom. The institution offers specialty youth accounts that help young people learn through real-world money management experience.
Children up to age 12 are eligible for the Kirby Kangaroo Club, which teaches them about savings through stories, games, and other activities.
“We also try to make sure they leave with a financial literacy coloring book or something tangible,” Hayes said. “We give them something they can take home to both learn and play with.”
Baylands Family Credit Union also offers the Claim Your Youth Program to teenagers between 13 and 18. The program provides enrollees the freedom to handle their finances while still learning about money management.
And for members 14 and older, the credit union offers a student checking account, which is the next step in experiential money management education.
Online Tools Provide Easy Access to Banking and Educational Resources
Baylands Family Credit Union has a reputation for personal, hometown service, but it’s also keeping up with digital trends in banking and education.
That’s why the credit union offers the FoolProof financial education and consumer literacy program, which is free to members and the public. The FoolProof program includes a set of modules tailored to the needs of young adults, college students, parents, children, and public school teachers. Each lesson contains modules that address specific topics, and users can complete all the modules or select those that are most relevant to their goals.
The program includes educational articles on various topics that can impact a member’s financial well-being.
Education is only part of the digital shift in the financial industry. Another significant component is easy access to online money management tools. Baylands Family Credit Union maintains an online banking platform and mobile app that help members manage their funds without visiting a branch. The credit union is also working to improve virtual service as more people shift to online banking.
“We’ve been doing some different things to upgrade, but one of the biggest things people have been taking advantage of is remote deposit capture,” Hayes said. “You don’t have to come in person to cash a check. You can use this feature to deposit the funds safely. It’s a very secure method.”
Baylands Family CU: Community Care Beyond Finances
Over nearly seven decades, Baylands Family Credit Union has stood by its members and its communities. Today, it continues that tradition through its products, educational resources, and commitment to philanthropic work.
Cancer research, in particular, is an important cause for Baylands Family Credit Union and its employees. Organizations that have benefitted from the credit union’s assistance include Susan G. Komen of Central and Eastern Virginia and the American Cancer Society.
“Cancer’s something that’s affected everyone,” Hayes said. “Staff members find empathy and a desire to get involved due to personal experiences, so it’s a cause a lot of people can get behind.”
Baylands Family Credit Union participates in food drives to benefit the Chesterfield Food Bank, collects gift cards for children around Christmas, and runs a coat drive in partnership with a local electronics company. Some Baylands Family Credit Union branch offices also host Angel Trees, which allow members to select a card from the tree and donate the listed item to a child at Christmas.
“We’re always involved doing something with the community and trying to do something with philanthropy,” Hayes said.
Those charitable efforts dovetail with the institution’s goal of empowering members to lead healthier financial lives. Virginia communities can thrive and prosper when its residents can not only afford their basic needs but when they appropriately manage their money.