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Early Birds Catch the Members!

Synergy and O Bee Pursue Distinction via First-Mover Advantage

Synergy Federal Credit Union and O Bee Credit Union prepare to introduce to their respective regions, San Antonio, Texas and Olympia, Washington, The Berenstain Bears Financial Literacy Program. Both credit unions seek competitive advantage to acquire recognition by providing young members and their families valuable financial education via the trusted and iconic Berenstain Bears.

Washington State chartered O Bee Credit Union is embarking on a five-year plan to emphasize the program’s sound money management concept Save, Share, Spend, Earn in its region of operation, which includes Thurston, Pierce, and Lewis Counties. O Bee’s efforts will include collaboration with elementary schools and youth organizations.

“Everyone loves the Berenstain Bears. This emotional connection will be a gateway to real financial education for our younger members. It’s a fun way to introduce saving, sharing and budgeting money for the future,” said Lee Wojnar, VP Marketing at O Bee.

Synergy, a multiple common bond federal credit union primarily serving the petroleum refining industry, is introducing the program through a Cub Account campaign this fall. Their long-term goal is to keep young members engaged while bolstering financial literacy among all members. “Both our board of directors and staff members were extremely excited about introducing The Berenstain Bears Financial Literacy Program and Cub Accounts to members,” said Casidhe Meriwether, Director of Marketing & Business Development at Synergy. “People really love those cute little Bears.”

Credit Union Network for Financial Literacy (CUNFL), the program purveyor, has been fielding inquiries from dozens of credit unions across the country since its rousing debut at CUNA’s America’s and World Council Credit Union Conference. The Berenstain Bears Financial Literacy Program has both educators and marketers abuzz about the limitless possibilities.

“Several education-based credit unions expressed interested in the program simply to acquire resources for teachers,” said National Director Rick Durante. “Ironically, neither Synergy nor O Bee is an educators’ credit union, per se, but each has a vested interest in financial literacy.”

In addition to acquiring the rights to use The Berenstain Bears in conjunction with financial literacy, the much sought after resources include turnkey lesson plans, activities, ready-to-use graphics, and youth account branding.

The need for and successes of targeting early learners is well documented. “We are not reinventing the wheel,” Durante said. “We’ve simply created a program around universally recognized characters.”

In addition to The Berenstain Bears Financial Literacy Program, CUNFL commissioned and published The Berenstain Bears Visit the Credit Union, an authentic Berenstain Bears book available only through participating credit unions. The 2015 publication follows the cubs inside the credit union during a class field trip where they and the reader experience the operations of a financial institution. Like the children that participate in the financial literacy program, the cubs learn that a credit union is a safe place to keep money and a place where they can watch their savings grow.

CUNFL also makes available to participants the credit union edition of the The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble With Money, which replaces all bank references from the original 1983 edition with credit union references.

Contact CUNFL for more information.