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Finding HOME Receives Gov. Evers’ Financial Literacy Award

Program Recognized for Helping Families Achieve Homeownership & Financial Security

LA CROSSE, Wis.—April 24, 2023—On April 21, Governor and First Lady Evers recognized Finding HOME, a free financial education program created by the Marine Credit Union Foundation, with a 2022 Governor’s Financial Literacy Award.

“Financial education gives people the tools they need to achieve their dreams, expand their opportunities, and attain financial security for themselves and their families,” said Gov. Evers. “The dedication of these individuals and organizations to help Wisconsinites become more financially secure and achieve their dreams is commendable and helps ensure not only the future success of individuals and families, but our entire state.”

“Finding HOME is about helping a household find the best path to homeownership for them and filling the gap when necessary,” said Majel Hein, Director of Financial Education with the MCU Foundation, who traveled to the Wisconsin State Capitol on Friday to receive the award. “There are dozens of mortgage products and programs, and it is overwhelming and hard to get unbiased advice. That is where we step in to provide a true how-to roadmap to homeownership and also ACCESS to homeownership for those household falling through the cracks.”

About Finding HOME

Finding HOME is a financial education and behavior change program designed to help credit-challenged borrowers achieve homeownership. The program was launched in 2018 to help the MCU Foundation further its mission.

Connecting with a Finding HOME counselor is a free way for individuals and families to find their best path to homeownership. Any household can schedule an appointment to receive a housing review where they will be connected to the best path to homeownership for them If they do not have a clear path to homeownership and meet other qualifications, households can choose to enter the core program of Finding HOME, this 12-18-month program consists of one-on-one financial e-counseling, educational courses and resource navigation assistance. Finding HOME participants are not required to become Marine Credit Union members or hold Marine Credit Union accounts.

By the Numbers: Since Program Inception

  • 380 households counseled (524 adults, 622 children)
  • 62.3% of applicants connected to homeownership in their first 90-minute housing review
  • 28 households graduated (48 adults, 56 children)
    • 89 points per person average credit score increase
    • $8,054 average dollars saved per program graduate
    • $9,968 average debt reduction per program graduate

As a result of changed spending and borrowing habits, participants of the program increase their credit scores, reduce their debt, and build robust savings accounts—before being connected with homeownership. Graduates of the core program of Finding HOME are guaranteed access to a market-rate mortgage that fits their spending plan.

Quotes on Impact

Participant: Raven Tillman

Raven Tillman, a Finding HOME graduate, entered the program in October 2020 seeking stability for her family. “I didn’t think much was left for me. I didn’t have financial or mental guidance,” said Raven. As a result of her work with Hein, Raven was able to raise her credit score, reduce her debt and create savings. She has also found stable housing, a full-time job and enrolled in Western Technical College.

Reflecting on her Finding HOME journey, Raven said other participants should “be ready to be fully open and fully honest about your money and your life. It will be life changing.” Read more about Raven’s story in the Marine Credit Union 2022 Annual Impact Report.

Partner: Hope Restores

“​​Hope Restores ​serves over 200 households per year. Many of whom struggle with personal finances, where a little help goes a long way,” said Shy Jackson, Executive Director at Hope Restores. “Our partnership with Finding HOME has helped many of the people we work with understand what their path to homeownership looks like and has helped them navigate major disruptors such as car repairs, moving expense, medical expenses and more.”

About Marine Credit Union Foundation

Since 2014, the MCU Foundation has given over $1.53 million to more than 1,500 charitable causes and in the areas that Marine services in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa. Marine employees have donated more than $750,000, and Marine members have donated more than $230,000. Four in five Marine employees contribute to the MCU Foundation through an automatic payroll deduction. The credit union matches each employee donation – for every dollar an individual donates, Marine donates two.