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A credit union league is a trade association that provides services and support to individual credit unions in the United States at the state level. There are organizations throughout all 50 states and the District of Columbia. A credit union is a not-for-profit financial cooperative owned by the members who invest in it.
Credit unions first appeared in the United States in 1909. The popularity of these financial cooperatives grew over the next decade, prompting Massachusetts to form the first credit union league, the Massachusetts Credit Union Association, in 1920. As the credit union movement spread to other states, the need for a national association to promote and support credit unions became apparent, leading to the formation of the Credit Union National Extension Bureau (CUNEB) in 1921. The CUNEB served credit unions through 1934, when the Federal Credit Union Act was passed, creating the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).
While the CUNA serves as the national trade association for both credit union leagues and individual consumer credit unions throughout the United States, each credit union league serves its member financial institutions on a more local basis. Among the main functions of a credit union league are advocacy, training, and assisting credit unions in complying with all state and federal laws. A credit union league will advocate for its members with the media, community leaders, and local and state lawmakers. Often, a credit league will employ full-time lobbyists to help influence legislation at both the state and national level.
Training and education is a key focus of a credit union league. They often offer conferences, seminars, online courses, webinars, and printed instruction. In this way, credit union leagues offer many training and continuing education opportunities for its member credit unions.
Keeping up with all state and federal laws regulating a consumer credit union is a challenge, especially for smaller cooperatives. A credit union league often provides regular updates to its members on changes to the laws affecting credit unions. Also, credit union leagues may employ experts to act as consultants to support members with compliance questions or issues.
Additionally, a credit union league may offer individual consumer credit unions some products through a service corporation subsidiary. Among these products may be credit- or debit-card programs, ATM programs, discounted transactional services or bill-paying programs. This may allow smaller credit unions the ability to provide services they could not on their own.