In a Nutshell: Credit unions are known for offering personalized levels of service not always seen at their big banking counterparts. Genisys Credit Union in Michigan takes its service to the next level by prioritizing ongoing financial literacy efforts for members and non-members alike. The credit union also extends its educational philosophy to children of all ages with a youth club divided into different grade levels and by offering scholarship opportunities. Genisys also demonstrates an impressive commitment to community service, volunteering more than 5,000 hours per year and sponsoring close to 1,000 community events. We are recognizing Genisys Credit Union for its dedication to financial literacy and community involvement with our Editor’s Choice™ Award for Community Commitment.
On a chilly February morning in Auburn Hills, Michigan, Genisys Credit Union employees, family members, and friends took to the streets to walk in the Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency (OLHSA) Walk for Warmth campaign.
This year, the Michigan-based credit union raised a record $40,315 through events leading up to, and during, the walk. Funds raised in the annual OLHSA event go toward heating homes for area residents in need.
Genisys has raised more than $400,000 to assist low-income residents with utility bills during the 20-plus years it has been participating in the community walk.
And that’s just one example among many of how Genisys Credit Union contributes to the communities it serves.
“Each year, Genisys team members contribute nearly 5,000 hours and sponsor over 975 events to benefit everyone who lives or works in our communities,” said Heather Pizzala, Vice President of Marketing for Genisys. “We are committed to making our neighborhoods prosperous and enjoyable places to live.”
In addition to its deep community involvement through volunteerism and community events, Genisys also works to deliver continuing financial literacy to both members and non-members in its service areas.
We are recognizing Genisys Credit Union with our Editor’s Choice™ Award for Community Commitment for its demonstrated efforts to educate and improve the communities in which it operates.
“Genisys Credit Union is a nonprofit financial institution owned by our members, so we operate to meet their interests, not stockholders,” Pizzala said. The organization was founded in 1936 and now serves more than 200,000 members throughout Michigan, and in parts of Minnesota and Pennsylvania.
“Genisys believes that financial literacy should begin early and be reinforced often,” Pizzala said. And the credit union supports this philosophy in a wide variety of ways.
The institution offers a weekly blog series with a sole focus on financial education on everything from credit scores, things to consider when buying a car, ways to build a better budget, how to save for college, and more, she said.
Genisys Credit Union members also gain free, unlimited access to financial education and budget assistance through a partnership with the GreenPath Financial Wellness service. GreenPath has been providing comprehensive education and exceptional service to individuals for more than 44 years, according to the Genisys website.
The credit union also provides members with access to Right at Home, a website that provides resources and information on mortgages — from first-time home buyers to those who may be in danger of losing their home to foreclosure.
Additionally, Genisys holds various homebuyer seminars throughout the year to help guide people through the home buying process and understand the programs that are available to help finance the home of their dreams.
“We also offer eBooks that take a deeper dive into understanding credit, buying your first vehicle and buying your first home,” Pizzala said. “These eBooks are emailed to our members as well as available on the website for additional exposure and use.”
Pizzala said Genisys likes to position itself as a resource for all things financial, for everybody.
“We feel financial literacy is so important that we try and reach out to everyone in our area — not just members,” she said.
Genisys not only offers its educational resources and financial services to adults, but it also facilitates numerous offerings geared toward children of all ages to help them get an early start on financial literacy.
“We offer one youth club, but we group the children into different age categories,” Pizzala said. “This allows us to tailor the information that is sent to our youngest members to help them learn about money, savings, budgeting, and loans at the right age and in an age-appropriate format.”
The Moola Moola Club is designed as a fun way to learn about money and the importance of saving for children 0 to 6 years old.
Moola Moola Club members are able to select a treasure chest prize when they visit a Genisys branch to make a deposit.
For children ages 7 to 11, the Wealth Warriors Club account also emphasizes the importance of saving and provides members with a mailed newsletter offering real-life financial information, tips, and advice.
Finally, Money Fit is geared toward members ages 13 to 18. This account includes a newsletter as well, plus more detailed resources to help guide young people in the right financial direction as they prepare for the real world.
The youth club currently offers a high-yield interest rate of 5.12% annual percentage yield up to a $500 balance. This competitive interest rate allows the funds to grow quickly and get the children excited about saving money. Each of the youth accounts also come with an eAllowance feature in which members’ allowance can be deposited directly into their accounts.
“We also offer several youth promotions throughout the year to encourage and reward saving,” Pizzala said. “Some of our locations partner with the local schools to be part of career days or a financial literacy week to help the kids to have fun while learning about money and the benefits of saving it.”
The Genisys website also featured a Parent Corner that features resources to help facilitate conversations between parents and children about various financial topics.
The credit union also supports students working toward receiving a higher education with a variety of scholarships, including the Diane Addington Scholarship and the Fran Anderson Making a Difference Scholarship.
Pizzala said Genisys Credit Union’s commitment to its communities has never been stronger, as evidenced by the thousands of hours Genisys employees and their families volunteer each year and the nearly 1,000 events it supported in 2018.
In addition to the OLHSA’s Walk for Warmth, she said other recent events include the Lighthouse of Oakland County’s annual Hunger Walk, multiple Food Bank of Eastern Michigan events, numerous parades, community park events, and health fairs.
“We also enjoy strong relationships with the Detroit Zoo and our local parks and recreation organizations,” Pizzala said.
The credit union’s community efforts are made possible through its Making a Difference program.
“Genisys Credit Union is committed to making a difference and would like to invite you to become actively involved with us to Make a Difference in our local communities,” according to the organization’s website.
The Making a Difference page includes a calendar of upcoming community events that Genisys is involved in. In June alone, the calendar features 71 events that people can take part in across the credit union’s service area.
The page also links to a request form for organizations and charities interested in partnering with Genisys for future events.
Around the holiday season, Genisys is particularly active in giving back. In November and December of 2018, the credit union raised more than $11,000 for the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. It also helped collect thousands of coats in November during the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Coats for the Cold initiative.
Genisys also adopted several families from Lighthouse of Oakland County and Macomb Community Action, and employees purchased and donated clothes, toys, and gift cards to help make the families’ holidays a happy time.
“Genisys is always looking or new ways to help and support our communities,” Pizzala said. “Watch our Making a Difference page on our website to see any new upcoming events.”