UNA, Listerhill Create Center for Financial Literacy

Jul. 7, 2010


UNA, Listerhill Create Center for Financial Literacy

FLORENCE, Ala. – In an age when personal financial hardship and increasing debt burdens are all too commonplace, the University of North Alabama and Listerhill Credit Union are partnering to create the Center for Financial Literacy on the UNA campus.

The student-operated center – the first of its kind in the region – will be designed to offer a casual commons area where students and community young people can receive sound financial advice in a comfortable peer-to-peer environment. Finance, economics and education students operating the center will receive professional financial training by Listerhill management.

The Center for Financial Literacy will also include a student-operated credit union – The Hill – offering a variety of financial products and services for students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community.

“The Hill and the Center for Financial Literacy will be anything but a traditional branch,” said Brad Green, president and CEO of Listerhill. “It will be a fun and innovative branch destination that will employ and be operated primarily by students of the university. This is definitely a concept that is unique to this partnership between UNA and Listerhill.”

The Hill and the Center for Financial Literacy will both begin operation in the Guillot University Center this fall.

Dr. William G. Cale, UNA president, said the university is seeing now, more than ever, the need to equip students with an in-depth knowledge of personal finance.

“In today’s economy,” he said, “students are graduating from college with more debt than ever, so they’re financially burdened even before their careers begin. They need to know how to wisely manage that debt, how to wisely invest their money before losing control financially. With resources like the ones we’re offering in partnership with Listerhill, I believe students at UNA will have a strong financial foothold by graduation.”

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average loan debt of graduating college seniors in 2008 was $23,200. The average loan debt for UNA graduating seniors in 2008 was $19,839.

“We are delighted to join UNA in this effort to equip young people with knowledge and concepts needed for sound financial futures,” Green said. “We hope that the knowledge shared there will greatly impact and transform the financial futures of students and others across this community. We are anxious to begin this effort to educate and encourage students to manage, save and borrow wisely to take control of their financial futures while they’re young.”

Listerhill’s partnership with UNA includes a $625,000 gift toward the university’s new Academic Center and Student Commons, where the Center for Financial Literacy and The Hill will be housed upon the building’s completion. The gift is the single largest corporate gift in UNA history.

In addition, the credit union, over the next 10 years, will make the same investments made to launch, develop and maintain any new branch location. The total investment is comparable to the investment the credit union makes to open any new branch location for its membership. “We want to reach out to the students at this university and in this community to help them learn basic personal financial management, to save early and borrow wisely and affordably,” Green said.

“This new partnership between UNA and Listerhill isn’t really that new,” Cale said. “We’ve had a longtime relationship that we’re now taking to the next level.”

Cale added that the new level of partnership will be significant for UNA as it will help establish new academic certification opportunities for business and education students and will assist in the College of Business’s progress toward AACSB (The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) accreditation.

Over the past 20 years, Listerhill has made several significant gifts to UNA, totaling more than $145,000. The credit union has also hosted 28 student interns from UNA and currently employs 36 students and 46 alumni among its staff. In addition, Listerhill has worked with the UNA Office of Continuing Studies and Outreach to help meet the program’s leadership and management training needs.

For more information on the Center for Financial Literacy and The Hill, visit www.youngfreealabama.com, or contact Green at 256-314-6512 or brad@listerhill.com, or Chris Horn, UNA director of corporate and foundation relations, at 256-765-5082 or chorn@una.edu.