Telhio Credit Union Celebrates 90 Years of Service to Members, Communities, and the Credit Union Mission

Telhio Credit Union Celebrates 90 Years Of Service To Members Communities And The Credit Union Mission

In a Nutshell: Television viewers can learn about Telhio Credit Union through the PBS “Opportunity Knock$” financial reality series. The Telhio team offered a low-cost personal loan to help a struggling family stave off eviction. It’s a microcosm of the assistance Ohio-based Telhio has routinely offered throughout its 90-year history. As a federally certified Community Financial Development Institution, Telhio offers products to boost households and businesses, financial education to build skills, and time and energy to uplift communities. It’s an essential resource for more than 70,000 members and communities throughout Ohio.

When a family in Ohio fell several months behind on rent payments and confronted possible eviction from their home, Telhio Credit Union stepped in with a low-cost personal loan to consolidate their debt and get them back on their feet.

There’s nothing particularly unusual about that. Telhio’s mission is to help people. Only this time, it happened on TV.

Founded in 1934 (the same year the credit union movement in America started), Ohio-based Telhio has a 90-year history of helping members and communities turn troubles into triumphs.

Telhio started as the credit union for the regional telephone company based in Ohio’s capital, Columbus. It began expanding its charter in 1987 and is now open to anyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Central and Southwest Ohio.

Telhio Credit Union logo

More than 70,000 members value Telhio as a product and service provider dedicated to serving people from all walks of life.

Telhio targets low-income constituencies because it is a federally certified Consumer Financial Development Institution (CDFI). It is known for its community contributions, financial education, volunteerism, and philanthropy.

It is Ohio’s top credit union lender through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the number two credit union SBA lender nationally.

When the “Opportunity Knock$” financial reality television series approached the Telhio team, it was natural to say yes.

“Opportunity Knock$” broadcasts nationally on PBS stations and streams on the PBS Passport app. Each year, the series follows the stories of six American families as they confront and overcome financial challenges.

A Telhio personal loan helped Wes and Maegan provide continuity to their family of five as they juggled their finances and learned to budget and save.

“PBS approached us based on our reputation and experience as a CDFI,” said Nick Biratsis, Telhio’s VP of Marketing. “Working with Wes and Maegan was about establishing a genuine financial relationship, which they didn’t have until we came along.”

Encouraging Homeownership and Business Development

That’s the credit union’s mission: members helping members and communities to make life better for everyone. Telhio is an exemplary member-owned credit union with a strong record of service.

As not-for-profit financial institutions, credit unions routinely offer products at a lower cost than traditional banks. Telhio stands out with products to boost struggling families and turn challenges into progress.

A highlight is Telhio’s participation in Ohio Homebuyer Plus, a state program that provides savings accounts with an ultra-high 7.75% APY to assist Ohioans on their homebuying journey.

Nick Biratsis is Telhio’s VP of Marketing.

The accounts are tax-advantaged so prospective homebuyers can use them for a new home’s down payment or closing costs. Telhio was one of the first credit unions in the state to sign on with Ohio Homebuyer Plus.

Participants are eligible to contribute to the accounts for up to five years. They can start with as little as $100 and build to $100,000. When this article went to press in May 2024, Telhio offered a $1,500 closing cost credit to Ohio Homebuyer Plus participants.

“Maybe you’re not quite prepared to buy a home because you need more savings to make such a major purchase, or you’re still building your credit history,” Biratsis said. “Ohio Homebuyer Plus is great because it allows you to build toward your homeownership goal.”

Telhio SBA loans include working capital loans to finance a company’s everyday operations. Telhio participates in SBA Express, which provides loans with a faster review process that businesses use for lines of credit.

The credit union provides SBA 7(a) loans that businesses use for general purposes or to start, renovate, or expand. It provides long-term fixed-rate 504 loans to finance real estate, building, and machinery purchases at below-market rates.

“Our goal is to be the primary financial institution for personal and business,” Biratsis said.

Educational Resources Help Members and Communities

Credit unions have taken on some of the responsibility for financial education that traditionally fell to families. As social life and financial challenges have grown more complex, more families are turning to credit unions for advice.

Telhio is no exception. It offers various resources to help members, consumers, and communities improve their financial standing.

Credit Score is a prime example. Credit Score is a web app that provides members with daily credit monitoring and alerts to identify and report credit bureau errors. With personalized, money-saving offers, it helps members learn the factors that impact their score and how they can improve.

Opportunity Knock$
Telhio helped an Ohio family get back on its feet in the PBS financial reality series “Opportunity Knock$.”

“That’s one I use all the time,” Biratsis said.

Telhio’s partnership with Greenpath, a nonprofit money management and financial education provider, offers members free financial wellness and debt management services.

Members facing debt challenges, foreclosures, and other crises can work directly with Greenpath to receive counseling, coaching, and opportunities to improve their situation.

The Money Mammals Kids Club is a savings account targeting youth. It encourages savings and education for children ages 11 and under by rewarding them with a card punch every time they make a deposit. They get a special prize after they collect 12 card punches.

“That one is about teaching and providing resources not just to children but to parents to help them coach their youngsters on saving and why making wise decisions with your money is important,” Biratsis said.

Telhio’s blog, which is accessible to the public, contains articles on financial education. The credit union goes out in the field through its Workplace Banking team, which provides free seminars and workshops to select employer groups. Telhio’s mortgage team stages financial reality fairs in local schools through a program sponsored by Ohio State University.

“It really hits home with the students because they have to figure out what it’s like to be a real-life adult,” Biratsis said.

Building a Better Future for All

It’s all part of a tradition that began in 1934 when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Credit Union Act into law and started the American credit union movement.

Telhio has worked ever since to better members’ lives, energize communities, and level the playing field to give everyone a chance to compete.

April is National Credit Union month, and Telhio matches Youth Savings Accounts dollar for dollar up to $25 every April. The credit union contributed nearly $17,000 to Youth Savings Accounts in 2024, providing well-earned rewards.

Contributions extend to volunteerism and philanthropy. The Telhio blog presents many stories of selfless community service.

For example, Telhio donated over $8,000 in 2024 to support an animal adoption effort in partnership with a local radio program and station.

Telhio employees have donated wish-list items to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio (RMHC) in return for tickets to the Ohio State Fair. The effort in fall 2023 resulted in 12 pallets of essential items going to the RMHC.

The credit union has offered scholarships to youth pursuing higher education, volunteered to enhance the local environment, and supported youth financial education through participation in the National Financial Bee.

“We partner with many local charities and organizations,” Biratsis said. “Spending sponsorship dollars to benefit youth and families is a priority.”

In 2024, Telhio welcomed a new CEO, Derrick Bailey, who brought unique personal energy and focus to the credit union. It opened a new headquarters in Franklinton, a redeveloping area in Columbus. Telhio’s decision to locate its headquarters there signaled its commitment to Franklinton’s prosperity.

In these and many other ways, Telhio helps members and families as it helped Wes and Maegan of Opportunity Knock$. Sometimes, a family needs a little help to make ends meet. Telhio is perfect for the job.

“We’re here to bridge the gap for those who need our services,” Biratsis said.