In a Nutshell: As its name implies, edU Federal Credit Union prioritizes financial education and the well-being of teachers and students. Its Bank at School program provides students with classroom instruction and hands-on experience with savings and money management. The credit union offers specialized savings accounts to help guide young people to financial prosperity and also works with local charities to support families with children facing prolonged medical treatment at area hospitals. For that dedication to its Delaware service areas, edUFCU has earned our Editor’s Choice™ Award for Community Commitment.
Each year, incoming teachers and support staff working in New Castle County, Delaware, attend professional orientations that prepare them for the upcoming school year. But, besides professional resources, they also receive a little education themselves — on personal finance.
Jennilee Gaskins speaks to them about their local, education-focused credit union, formerly known as New Castle County School Employees Federal Credit Union. Today, the financial institution is known as edU Federal Credit Union — but, despite its name change, it remains just as dedicated to education.
“It was always a credit union open for school employees and educators within New Castle County. We still stay true to those roots, we just expanded to also include the students in the schools,” said Gaskins, Marketing Coordinator at edUFCU. “Our old name was more targeted to staff, but once we added the students in, we wanted something a little more accommodating to everybody who’s in our field of membership.”
Chartered in Wilmington, Delaware, in 1953, edUFCU now serves nearly 10,000 members and holds $43 million in assets. Credit union membership is open to school employees, their families, and public school students. According to its website, edUFCU allows those members to “pool their money and make mutually beneficial loans to each other.”
And that mutual benefit doesn’t end with practical financial concerns. edUFCU also takes its mission further through its Bank at School Program and in-school branches. The credit union also offers discounts and specialized accounts designed to help members save money and engages in volunteerism through the Ronald McDonald House — among other local charity work.
For its dedication to improving the well-being of people in New Castle County, Delaware, edUFCU has earned our Editor’s Choice™ Award for Community Commitment.
Bank at School Program Provides Hands-On Experience with Personal Finance
The Delaware Bank at School Program teaches elementary and middle school students about financial management through direct, hands-on banking experience. It currently operates in 21 schools across five participating districts.
“We’re preparing them for what it’s like to bank in the real world,” Gaskins said. “We open savings accounts for them, and they can make deposits with us the way they would expect to at a financial institution.”
The program grants teachers access to lessons that impart the advantages of saving and aligns with Delaware State Standards in Economics. Through those exercises and hands-on banking experience, students learn to save and spend wisely. And some get even more in-depth, practical experience by serving as bank tellers in their Bank at School Credit Union branch.
“We have branches in three of the high schools — full-service branches where the students are doing that as part of their class to earn required hours,” Gaskins said. “It’s kind of like an internship program for their business and banking pathways in high school.”
Each student who participates in the Bank at School program opens an edUFCU Youth Savings Account. The accounts are non-custodial and held in the student’s name. There is no charge, but students must have parental permission and make an initial deposit of $1.
“They are regular savings accounts with the same full access that any of our members would have,” Gaskins said.
Students can make deposits once per week when an edUFCU service representative comes to their school, and they receive prizes as incentives for saving. They can also always deposit and withdraw at the credit union’s main branch or its Christiana High School Branch. And the accounts have no restrictions on the frequency or amount of deposits, enabling students to begin practicing positive saving habits no matter their financial situation.
Discounts and Perks Help Make Money Go Further
The benefits of credit unions are well-known; they are nonprofit institutions that pass savings along to members in the form of lower loan rates, higher dividends, and fewer fees. But edUFCU offers additional discounts and deals on common services to help its members realize even greater savings.
Members can take advantage of discounts with Liberty Mutual on auto, home, renters, and life insurance. And deals through Horace Mann Insurance can help them save money on auto, property, and life insurance as well as other financial services. The credit union’s income and estate planning partners can help members save on long-term care insurance.
Homebuyers also have a variety of options through edUFCU affiliate Go Mortgage’s loan programs — including conventional, FHA, rehab loans, reverse mortgages, VA loans, and others.
Finally, edUFCU offers its members discounts through LoveMyCreditUnion.org programs. Deals include 10% off select monthly data service plans from Sprint PCS and savings for shopping online. Members can also receive discounts on TurboTax software and even movie tickets from Regal Cinemas. The tickets cost only $9 at edUFCU branches and are good for any movie at any time.
edUFCU offers Club Accounts are designed to encourage adult account holders to meet monthly savings goals.
“We have Christmas Club, Teachers Club, and Vacation Club,” Gaskins said. “And they have a little bit better interest rate than normal savings accounts.”
Each of these club accounts disperses on a different date each year. Vacation Club funds release on April 1; Christmas Club on November 1; and Teacher’s Club on August 1. Despite their name, the Teacher’s Club Accounts are open to anyone, not just teachers, who are saving up for expenses at the start of the school year.
Volunteerism Supports Children and Their Families in Their Time of Need
When children are injured or incur serious illness, the life-saving treatments and cures they require can entail traveling far from home for weeks — or even months — at a time. Unfortunately, receiving this specialized care can also mean separating husbands from wives and children from parents at times when they most need one another’s care and support.
The Ronald McDonald House offers an alternative. The organization provides low or no-cost housing to the families of sick and injured children, enabling parents to stay with their children during prolonged medical treatment. Residents of Ronald McDonald Houses enjoy private bedrooms, communal playrooms, and daily home-cooked meals.
At the Ronald McDonald House in Wilmington, members from different organizations volunteer to prepare residents dinner each night. Several times each year, edUFCU takes responsibility for delivering hot, fresh meals to families in need.
“We normally prepare a meal for the families that are staying at the Ronald McDonald House maybe four to five times a year. The staff here goes in and does that as a way to give back,” said Gaskins. “We buy the groceries, cook, and we serve meals for the families.”
edUFCU volunteers donate their time and care to ensure that families can enjoy fresh, wholesome food during trying times. Through its efforts, the credit union supports both the children and their families in a time of need.
edUFCU: Focused on Volunteering and Community Involvement
Further evidence of edUFCU’s commitment to community wellness can be seen in its volunteer efforts. In addition to the Ronald McDonald House, the credit union also supports other charitable organizations in the communities it serves.
“We’ve had plenty of community involvement in some other areas in the past,” Gaskins said.
In previous years, edUFCU branches have conducted a variety of drives to support local charities. They have solicited donations for the Children’s Miracle Network, collected blankets to donate to local nursing homes, and conducted holiday canned food drives for a local food bank.
“That’s something we have the opportunity to get back involved with,” Gaskins said. “I think we will pick up even more charitable opportunities this year.”
That means New Castle County residents can expect to see a greater edUFCU presence in the community along with the same member-focused programs educators, students, and support staff have come to expect.
Its discounts and specialized accounts help teachers and students improve their savings, and its financial education teaches them to better manage their hard-earned dollars.