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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Local credit union officer wins major international recognition

Tarrant County’s Credit Union Vice President of Operations Shelli McCoy, CUDE, was honored with the 2018 Joe Biden Award for Development Educator of the Year at a Nov. 17 awards dinner in Manchester, England.

It was the first time someone from North America has received the honor.

McCoy won for a project she conceived and directed in the Renaissance Heights area of Southeast Fort Worth.

Entries for the 2018 Joe Biden Awards were received from Asia, Africa, Europe, and, for the first time, North America.

“The winner of the inaugural Joe Biden Award for the Development Educator of the Year from North America is a woman who is an exemplar of everything that being a Development Educator is,” said Barry Epstein, a co-trustees, ICULD&E Foundation and directors ICULD&E Co. Ltd.

McCoy is a member of the board of Renaissance Heights United – described as a community “quarterback” organization – is a nonprofit formed of other nonprofit organizations, real estate developers and community leaders focused on a 200-acre site in southeast Fort Worth that was occupied by the Masonic Home and School of Texas before its closure in 2005.

The area is at the intersection of U.S. 287 and Berry Street, and the closing of the Masonic Home opened it for development in as area of Southeast Fort Worth considered, among other things, to be a food desert because of the lack of retail in the area.

Development in the area started with shopping – The Shoppes at Renaissance Square – that includes a Walmart and other stores.

The original Masonic Home buildings have been repurposed for ACH Child and Family Services and an Uplift Education charter school. Columbia Residential has led construction of housing on the site.

And Cook Children’s Health Care System, the Fort Worth ISD and the YMCA have built or are building major facilities on site. North Texas Area Community Health Centers Inc. and Texas Wesleyan University are close by, and UNT Health Science Center is operating a mobile clinic in the neighborhood.

“Shelli is an extraordinary leader in Fort Worth. Her work with the Renaissance Heights United board and the neighborhood it serves is very deserving of the 2018 Joe Biden Award. Shelli is making a big difference in the lives of our community members,” said Frederick G. Slabach, president of Texas Wesleyan University and chair of the board of RHU.

Credit Union Development Educator (CUDE) is a certification through the National Credit Union Foundation. The foundation’s vision is making financial freedom achievable through credit unions.

The training program identifies 12 development issues that are barriers to economic growth and prosperity for the world’s families. Issues include access to credit, education, employment, health, housing, savings, transportation and women in development.

To be eligible of the top award internationally, projects need to address those 12 issues.

McCoy designed a project for the Renaissance Heights community.

“My vision was to serve in this community for a year and feed this community financial education of some kind at every touch point,” McCoy said. “This was a community of multiple places and needs where we could as they say, really work among them, know them. They know us, the people that would live there and the people that worked there.”

Renaissance Heights is four miles from Downtown Fort Worth and TCCU (Tarrant County Credit Union) so, she said, “it then became not go to this community and serve, it was go out into OUR community and serve.”

“This community dealt with all 12 development Issues that I learned about in DE. This community was a massive revitalization effort in one of the most underserved and poorest areas of Fort Worth. This was a community that had seen poverty for generations,” McCoy said.

The dream she said, was to radically change Renaissance Heights.

“TCCU understood changing this community would mean more than just where they lived or where they went to school. To change poverty behavior these folks had experienced for generations, financial education was at the forefront of making that dream a reality,” McCoy said. “Without financial education, the community might look different, but the cycle of intergenerational poverty would continue.”

Employees of TCCU were deeply involving in the project:

– In August 2016, TCCU volunteered for a Back to School Rally at Uplift Mighty Preparatory, the Charter school in Renaissance Heights. Volunteers helped with distribution of school supplies, directing traffic, and helping parents and children find events or information. TCCU also donated school supplies for the event from donations from TCCU staff.

– In September 2017, TCCU hosted its first Reality Fair at Uplift Mighty for 134 high school juniors and seniors providing them with financial education and resources to strengthen them for the future ahead in partnership with staff members from other credit unions.

– In July 2017, TCCU donated a Biz Kid$ kit and Biz Kid$ books and other supplies with a grant from Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation to the Cook Children’s Neighborhood Clinic located in Renaissance Heights.

“The clinic has agreed to play the DVDs in their patient waiting area, hand out the fun books to their young patients, and give the BizKid$ books to older new patients,” McCoy said in a report on the project.

Members of TCCU’s Board of Directors also personally donated money to buy a picnic table for the clinic for patient families and clinic employees.

– In December 2017, TCCU donated 87 new children’s coats to children who attend the YMCA in Renaissance Heights. The coats were donated by TCCU staff, members and board members.

McCoy said she made contact and built relationships with someone from each organization or business in Renaissance Heights and “discussed with each the importance of financial education and the options TCCU could offer to provide the education and then leave each of them with the tools to continue.”

“I am so proud of Shelli’s dedication and hard work on her DE project,” said Tarrant County’s Credit Union President/CEO Lily Newfarmer, I-CUDE, SCMS. “Her generosity of spirit is an inspiration to all of us and embodies everything the CUDE program stands for.”

Judges for the Biden award also were impressed.

“I am very impressed with Shelli’s entry and how she has tied all the efforts undertaken by her and TCCU staff, directors, and members back to attending the CUDE course in 2015,” said one award judge. “She is trying to make a difference to young people and those in the community who are affected by inter-generational poverty, an issue that affects many developed countries. Great work and am very inspired, and keep up the great work.”

The judges also said of McCoy, “She is part of a small credit union with relatively little resource, but this has not stopped her delivering her DE project inspired by graduating first as a DE. She raises funds, obtains donations to provide financial education, particularly to young people, and uses other resources to combat intergenerational poverty in her community.”

McCoy said the CUDE program. “this work in our community, and this award are shining stars in my credit union journey. I left DE knowing my career would never be the same, feel the same, or look the same and that going forward it would never be just a job for me.”

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Paul Harral
Paul is a lifelong journalist with experience in wire service, newspaper, magazine, local and network television and digital media. He was vice president and editor of the editorial page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and editor of Fort Worth, Texas magazine before joining the Business Press. What he likes best is writing about people in detail and introducing them to others in the community. Specific areas of passion are homelessness, human trafficking, health care and aerospace.

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