New, free financial literacy program available for K–12 children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New, free financial literacy program available for K12 children

Riverdale, Utah – Feb. 17, 2021 – In an effort to help youth become financially savvy, America First Credit Union is launching FUNDamentals, a customizable, financial literacy program created for kindergarten through 12th grade students and teachers.

“Our goal is to make financial literacy easily accessible to educators and students,” said John B. Lund, president and CEO of America First Credit Union. “FUNDamentals is designed to make learning about finances fun and engaging. By teaching youth about money matters, we can help put them on the path to financial success.”

The program includes various full-lesson plans for Kfifth and sixth12th grades covering topic areas that address 10 of the most important critical life skills, including spending, saving, getting a loan, and other financial subjects. Each includes engaging animated videos, handouts, presentations, lesson plans, printable certificates, and other useful resources to inform students while keeping them entertained. Lessons are aligned with national standards of Common Core Math and Common Core English Language Arts requirements. Compared to other programs on the market, FUNDamentals is free, has up-to-date information, and offers specialized content catered to youth.

“Most financial lit programs cost the schools money and America First Credit Union’s FUNDamentals program is completely free,” said Lund. “Our program will help school districts save the money they would have spent on financial literacy and instead invest that toward other student needs.”

Understanding that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever, the program, including scheduling virtual guest speakers who can teach the curriculum, can be done online. Teachers can request access to the program by visiting education.americafirst.com. This will allow access to our password-protected FUNDamentals portal. Once access has been granted by credit union staff, school districts and teachers can log into the online portal to use and customize the content.

Those wanting additional financial instruction for students can request a free virtual or in-person visit from a guest speaker by completing the form at education.americafirst.com.

According to Charles Schwab, 63% of Americans want to prioritize financial education. A lack of financial knowledge has severe consequences, including impacting relationships, emotional states, health, lifespan, lifestyle, career and enjoyment of life.

Editor’s Note: Credit union representatives are available for interviews. Email Jennifer.Lopez@rrpartners.com to coordinate.

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ABOUT AMERICA FIRST CREDIT UNION

Proudly celebrating 81 years of servicing members and a long-standing history, America First Credit Union has become one of the largest, most stable and most progressive credit unions in the country, and has remained a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative financial institution. Today, America First has 128 locations, and is the eighth largest credit union in assets in the United States with over $14.4 billion, and the sixth largest credit union in membership in America with more than 1,165,985 members.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Nicole Cypers
America First Credit Union
801.827.8655
ncypers@americafirst.com

Jennifer López
R&R Partners
702.318.4203
jennifer.lopez@rrpartners.com

America First Credit Union Expands to Northern Nevada

America First Credit Union Expands to Northern Nevada

LAS VEGAS – February 10, 2021 – Carson City area residents now have a new option for credit unions. America First Credit Union (AFCU) will open its first branch in Northern Nevada and 17th branch in Nevada on Feb. 16.

The 2,200-square-foot Carson City branch, located at 956 Topsy Lane Suite 101, Carson City, NV 89705, offers a walk-up ATM and four teller stations. Located in the Carson City Plaza off Interstate 50 and S. Carson Street, the new branch is 3.7 miles from the Nevada Legislative building.

“We are thrilled to add this spacious branch to expand our footprint in Nevada,” said Alexander Wager, AFCU Carson City branch manager. “Our branch fills a hole in the credit union market. My team and I are enthusiastic about the opportunity to meet new members, welcome prospective members, and contribute positively to the community.”

The lobby will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. The branch will be a full-service location, offering all products and services, including personal accounts, financial counseling services, auto and recreational vehicle loans, mortgages, and business solutions. The branch is equipped with a spacious lobby that enables social distancing, plexiglass at all teller stations, and floor markers.

AFCU will debut its branch via a virtual tour on Feb. 16 at 8 a.m. PT on the americafirst.com branch locator page (www.americafirst.com/about/contact/branches.html) and its social platforms. Viewers will receive a virtual tour of the branch location, meet the branch manager, and learn about amenities and details for the online promotion.

To mark the opening, new and prospective members are invited to partake in a virtual celebration, complete with raffle prize giveaways. One lucky individual who enters online or in-branch between Feb. 16 to Feb. 20 will win a $500 AFCU visa gift card and Saranoni luxury blanket. AFCU is offering a $25 match to every member who opens a new savings and checking account between Feb. 16 to Feb. 20.

The credit union will host a small, socially distanced, private ribbon cutting on Feb. 19 with the Carson City Chamber of Commerce and city officials to celebrate the expansion in Northern Nevada.

Managing the leading, not-for-profit cooperative financial institution branch is Alexander Wager. Wager, who previously served as a U.S. Bank client relations consultant, earned U.S. Bank’s 2019 Top Banker, an internal distinction awarded to only 5%. This Orlando native has been a Nevada resident since 2005.

The opening of the branch marks AFCU’s 128th branch in the U.S.

 

ABOUT AMERICA FIRST CREDIT UNION

Proudly celebrating 81 years of servicing members and a long-standing history, America First Credit Union has become one of the largest, most stable and most progressive credit unions in the country, and has remained a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative financial institution. Today, America First has 128 locations, and is the eighth largest credit union in assets in the United States with over $14.4 billion, and the sixth largest credit union in membership in America with more than 1,165,985 members.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Nicole Cypers
America First Credit Union
801.827.8655
ncypers@americafirst.com

Jennifer López
R&R Partners
702.318.4203
jennifer.lopez@rrpartners.com

The America First Charitable Foundation Scholarship

This year, we are giving away 10 scholarships worth $1000 each. In order to be eligible, members must be graduating high school seniors or undergraduate students currently enrolled in a two-year, four-year or technical college or university, and have a passion for serving and helping others.

The America First Charitable Foundation is looking for candidates who embody the people-helping-people philosophy. Those who play an active role in giving back to their community, whether through volunteering or other meaningful contributions of time, effort, and care. If this describes you, we encourage you to apply.

Applicants are required to submit their hours of community service, grade point average, and current transcript. They must also submit a short essay on how their community service exemplifies the credit union philosophy of people helping people.

 

Applications are due April 30th. Here is the link to scholarship applications

https://apply.yourcausegrants.com/apply/auth/signup

Loveland aquarium

Discounted Deep Sea Discoveries

Loveland Living Planet Aquarium is home to more than four thousand animals from all over the world. Visitors can immerse themselves in various entertaining & educational experiences as they walk through six different habitats:

  • Ocean Explorer – Enjoy being surrounded by sea creatures in the 40-foot underwater tunnel. Here you’ll find grey reef sharks, loggerhead sea turtles, southern stingrays, and the giant Pacific octopus.
  • Expedition: Asia – Take a trip east to learn more about exotic creates on both the land and the sea, including Chinese tree dragons, clouded leopards, Banggai cardinalfish, and Asian small-clawed otters.
  • Penguin Research Station – Penguins are fascinating & adorable, and you can see a group of Gentoo penguins dive off the rocks and watch them swim above and below the surface. You may even get to enjoy feeding time.
  • Discover Utah – From Tremonton to St. George, our state has a beautiful variety of environments and wildlife. In this area you can observe wood ducks, desert tortoises, Bonneville cutthroat trout, and the North American river otter.
  • Journey to South America – A short drive will allow you to explore a tropical rainforest. This habit features such creatures as the electric eel, Linnaeus’ two-toed sloths, green anacondas, and keel-billed Toucans.
  • Deep Sea Land – Most of the oceans remain unexplored, but you can see some very interesting discoveries from the depths, such as the Pacific hagfish, giant isopods, and the Japanese spider crab.

And during the month of February, we have a special offer for our members! You can receive $5 off every regular admission when you use your America First Visa® credit or debit card at the ticket office.

Please note that this offer is subject to availability and current limited-capacity requirements may delay entrance times. However, you can purchase discounted tickets in advance for later use, if you’d like.

Prevent child hunger

Join Us for the Souper Bowl of Caring

America First is proud to be a partner of KUTV’s Souper Bowl of Caring. The Souper Bowl of Caring is a national organization that partners with local hunger relief charities to fight against childhood hunger.

The local chapter of this organization works with as many community food pantries as possible throughout the state of Utah. 100% of the monetary and food donations are passed along directly to these community charities.

As part of our partnership, we help collect monetary donations both online, over the phone and at our branches until Saturday, February 27. There are multiple ways to make your contribution:

  • Credit card – Click here and fill out our secure online form
  • In person – Make a deposit at a branch to account number 5504816 (last name: Donate)
  • Mobile – Send a text to 855-719-2328 to receive further instructions
  • Venmo – Transfer funds to @SouperBowlofCaringUT

To learn more about this wonderful organization and their efforts, visit souperbowl.org.

Man handing a lady a flower

Don’t Get Fooled by Romance Scams

Falling in love can make you feel as though you’re walking on air, but if a budding relationship is exclusively online, it’s important to keep your feet on the ground. Here are some tips to avoid becoming a romance scam victim.

  • You may be charming and attractive, but scammers will try grooming you by flattering your ego. Be suspicious if things progress too quickly without meeting each other in person.
  • Watch out if your new friend starts making financial requests. He or she may play with your heartstrings and say there are medical expenses to pay or ask you for travel expenses for a date. Don’t do it.
  • Never send cash, cashier’s checks, gift cards or wired funds to unverified individuals. It’s almost impossible to get that money back.
  • Resist the temptation to send expensive gifts to your virtual boyfriend or girlfriend. Save that for when and if you meet in person. Even then, don’t spend more than you can afford.
  • Private information, such as your account number or PIN isn’t to be shared with anyone but joint account owners.
  • Don’t provide your address, credit card numbers or Social Security number to someone you’re talking to on a dating site or in a chat room.
  • Resist any effort to connect to your account to an online friend’s, even if they claim they’ll only make deposits.

In short, a healthy amount of skepticism can keep you safe whenever you start seeing—or chatting with—a new love interest.

Annual Meeting Update

The Nominations Committee has selected the following three candidates to fill the open positions at the upcoming 2021 Annual Meeting.

  • David McConkie
  • Cathy Person
  • John Spease

Nominations by petition must be received by 5pm, March 8, 2021 at the America First Credit Union Corporate Office, 1344 West 4675 South, Riverdale, UT, 84405. Petitions for Nomination must be signed by at least 500 members to be valid, along with a 150 word qualification statement by the nominee (Contact the Credit Union for information on how to submit a qualification statement). No nominations may be made at the Annual Meeting. If there are no nominations by petition the election of the Board will be made by acclamation and not election ballots.

Guest Commentary: Resilience in Weathering the Economic Storms

Dave StaceyBy David Stacey, Senior Vice President – Treasury Services

The recovering economy was abruptly upended last February when fears of an obscure virus infecting a remote part of China blossomed into today’s global COVID-19 pandemic. Contamination spread like a shock wave, halting the longest expansionary economic period on record. The Federal Reserve, U.S. Congress, and White House quickly united in a national nurturing effort, slashing rates, sending checks to most Americans, delivering benefits to those who were furloughed, and providing liquidity to businesses.

Nearly 21 million individuals lost their jobs between March and April, shaking consumer confidence and prompting families to reserve additional resources for the future, which boosted personal savings rates to record highs. Unemployment reached 14.8% in the U.S., although that picture has improved, with more than half of those people being back at work. However, regaining better employment numbers may occur at a slower pace going forward.

Consumer spending, although dramatically weakened, quickly recovered to pre-virus levels with reductions in service-related sectors such as hospitality and travel, but with elevated outlays in more durable areas like home improvements and recreational vehicle purchases.

Business production activity and capital expenditures are gaining steam, though output is still well below previous measurements. Long-term restructuring may boost expenditures, as lessons learned from work-at-home scenarios are evaluated and implemented into future growth strategies.

Timely coronavirus vaccine development has lifted markets and the clouds are beginning to part. Overall economic strength as measured by gross domestic product began advancing late in 2020 and will likely show more impressive vigor as inoculations become widely available and confidence is replenished.

Limited inventories and record-low interest rates, along with systemic changes in labor markets, have created a robust mortgage environment, as home price increases now exceed personal income growth for many.

Auto sales slipped somewhat last year, exposing COVID-19 influences such as preferences for working remotely, driving less, and saving more, but 2021 is expected to show modest improvement as the world starts unlocking and supply chains normalize. We also expect to see expanded spending driven by pent-up demand.

So, how will these trends affect America First and our members?

  • Virus cases continue rising, and vaccinations are slower than we hoped, but the worst of the storm has likely passed
  • Economic stimulus and government spending will provide long-term unemployment support
  • Consumer spending should increase as vaccine doses reach the general public and we’re pushed toward herd immunity
  • Consumer lending levels should gradually move upward
  • Lingering uncertainty will promote savings growth
  • We foresee continued low rates, especially in the short term, as the Fed keeps our economic runway clear of obstructions
  • Mortgage lending will likely remain vibrant until home affordability and higher rates start limiting borrowers’ capacity
  • Business lending should improve

In summary, there will undoubtedly be rain in the forecast, but 2021 should not present us with the ravening storms of 2020. The past 12 months have proven very difficult, but because of the resilient strength and stability of our organization, combined with valiant efforts from dedicated employees, our credit union stands strong and capable to meet your needs.

We look forward to good things in the year ahead.

America First Credit Union Announces New EVP Chief Lending Officer

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

America First Credit Union Announces New EVP Chief Lending Officer

Brett Christensen (left) takes over the role of EVP Chief Lending Officer as Randy Halley (right) retires after 43 years of service at America First Credit Union.

Riverdale, UT – January 12, 2021 – America First Credit Union welcomes Brett Christensen to its leadership team as EVP Chief Lending Officer for the leading nonprofit financial institution. He will oversee indirect lending, mortgages, consumer lending, business lending, home equity and sales.

Christensen is taking over this role from previous EVP Chief Retail and Lending Officer, Randy Halley, who is retiring after more than 43 years of service at America First Credit Union. Halley has been instrumental in developing key performance indicators for branch measurement, bringing machine learning to the credit union and driving the adoption of two critical operating systems for lending and transactions. He was also the visionary behind opening an innovation hub in downtown Salt Lake City, which has been toured by financial leaders from around the country and has provided an environment to test new banking solutions to measure efficiency and member adoption rates.

“We thank Randy for his incredible service to America First and its members,” said America First President and CEO John B. Lund. “It’s been an honor to work with him and see his vast contributions  to the credit union during his time here. I wish Randy the best in this next chapter.”

Stepping into this role with more than 28 years of credit union experience in both the U.S. and Canada, Christensen has been an industry leader working to educate and consult industry professionals on lending topics. Prior to America First, he served as the president of Loan Link Lending Center, was a senior consultant with Lending Solutions Consulting and most recently owned CU Lending Advice.

“We’re elated to add Brett to our leadership team,” said Linda Carver, America First Board Chair. “He has helped dozens of credit unions significantly improve their lending and sales results, and we’re honored to have his experience and expertise at America First. Brett is going to bring significant value to our members in this role.”

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ABOUT AMERICA FIRST CREDIT UNION

Proudly celebrating 81 years of servicing members and a long-standing history, America First Credit Union has become one of the largest, most stable and most progressive credit unions in the country, and has remained a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative financial institution. Today, America First has 128 locations, and is the eighth largest credit union in assets in the United States with over $14.1 billion, and the sixth largest credit union in membership in America with more than 1,159,000 members.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Nicole Cypers
America First Credit Union
801.827.8655
ncypers@americafirst.com

Kelsey Richardson
R&R Partners
801.913.9454
Kelsey.richardson@rrpartners.com

CEO Announces Retirement After 46 Years with America First Credit Union

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CEO Announces Retirement After 46 Years with America First Credit Union

Riverdale, Utah – Jan. 5, 2021 – John B. Lund, president and CEO of America First Credit Union in Riverdale, Utah, has announced plans to retire in the spring of 2021, more than 46 years after first joining the institution. Thayne Shaffer, the credit union’s chief information officer (CIO), has been selected as Lund’s successor.

Since Lund became president and CEO in 2012, America First Credit Union has expanded its branch network from 104 to 128, increased assets from $5.5 billion to $14.2 billion, and membership numbers increased from 592,309 to 1,159,227.

“John, a tremendous person and a profoundly esteemed leader, has shown acuity and keenness of thought in every decision he has made,” said Linda Carver, chair of the board of directors for America First. “He has had a remarkable ability to understand and position the credit union for new opportunities to assure our long-term and continued growth. We are grateful for the extraordinary contributions John has made to propel America First and the credit union industry forward.”

Lund, whose retirement is effective April 1, 2021, quickly rose through the ranks. Most recently, he served as executive vice president. He first started in 1975 as the credit union’s courier.

“It’s been an honor to work with so many talented people and serve so many kind members,” said Lund. “I am certain America First members and colleagues will continue to thrive under Thayne’s leadership, using teamwork to strengthen relationships and our communities.”

Shaffer has worked at the credit union for more than 33 years and was appointed CIO in May 2019. His recent responsibilities included cyber security, enterprise systems, programming, database administration, quality assurance, and network operations.

“I am excited for this opportunity and will focus on executing the strategic priorities that have been set,” said Shaffer.

Most recently, Shaffer was appointed to senior vice president and controller in 2014. Between 2009 and 2019, he supervised multiple mergers and, in 2018 and 2019, served as staff coordinator for the Enterprise Risk Management committee.

 

John B. Lund is retiring as president and CEO of America First Credit Union (left). He will be replaced by Thayne Shaffer, America First’s chief information officer (right).

 

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ABOUT AMERICA FIRST CREDIT UNION

Proudly celebrating 81 years of servicing members and a long-standing history, America First Credit Union has become one of the largest, most stable and most progressive credit unions in the country, and has remained a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative financial institution. Today, America First has 128 locations, and is the eighth largest credit union in assets in the United States with over $14.1 billion, and the sixth largest credit union in membership in America with more than 1,159,000 members.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Nicole Cypers
America First Credit Union
801.827.8655
ncypers@americafirst.com

Kelsey Richardson
R&R Partners
801.913.9454
Kelsey.richardson@rrpartners.com