What is Young & Free Michigan? A great new account and a voice for Michigan's 17-to-25 crowd.

The Young & Free Initiative is a platform designed to help define freedom for Michigan youth and provides fun and educational resources to help and challenge young people to move towards that freedom. Young & Free Michigan comes to life in an online environment where meaning happens amongst thought-provoking, relevant and empowering dialogue.

The Purpose

  • Give Michigan's 17-to-25 crowd a voice and place of their own.
  • Empower members of this group to define and find freedom.
  • Provide free and relevant advice.
  • Find a spokesperson from within this group who will listen and be an ear to what’s going on about topics that are important to youth.
  • Help Michigan First Credit Union learn from the 17-to-25 crowd to help the credit union design better products and services that this group needs.
  • Raise Michigan First's profile to get on young people’s consideration list for possible financial institutions.

General Information

 

If you are looking for more information about the Young & Free Program, please contact:

Sandy Pitkethly
Vice President, Marketing
Currency Marketing
604-792-4053 ext. 23
spitkethly@currencymarketing.ca
currencymarketing.ca

 

Media Kit

If you have a Young & Free Michigan media question, please contact: 

Sue Postemski
Vice President of Marketing
Michigan First Credit Union
spostemski@michiganfirst.com
248-395-4063

Support materials for editorial use

Media Resources

  • PDF | Young & Free Michigan Boilerplate
  • PDF | Young & Free Michigan Fact Sheet

Logo Artwork

  • PDF | Brand Identity Guidelines
  • EPS | PNG | JPG | Young & Free Michigan (horizontal color)
  • EPS | PNG | JPG | Young & Free Michigan (horizontal black)
  • EPS | PNG | JPG | Young & Free Michigan (vertical color)
  • EPS | PNG | JPG | Young & Free Michigan (vertical black)

Media Releases

  • PDF | 03/11/2014 | Michigan First Kicks Off Search For The Next Young & Free Michigan “Spokester”
  • PDF | 01/15/2014 | Metro Detroit Students Eligible For Up To $85,000 In Scholarships From Michigan First Credit Union
  • PDF | 08/12/2013 | Michigan First Chooses Victoria Goldwater As Next Young & Free Michigan "Spokester"
  • PDF | 08/15/2012 | Michigan First Foundation Awards $51,000 In College Scholarships To Graduating High School Seniors
  • PDF | 02/03/2012 | Michigan First Starts Foundation, Kicks Off 2012 Scholarship Programs
  • PDF | 06/06/2012 | Michigan First Chooses Austin Chapman As Next Young & Free Spokester
  • PDF | 03/12/2012 | Michigan First Begins Search For Second Young & Free Michigan Spokester 
  • PDF | 04/27/2011 | Janelle O'Hara Wins Coveted Young & Free Spokester Search
  • PDF | 02/24/2011 | Michigan First Credit Union Launches Online Search

Media Coverage

 

Lathrup Village-based credit union searches for young adult representative

Oaklnad Press Lathrup Village

Michigan First Credit Union announced its fourth annual Young & Free Michigan “Spokester” search.

The winner will serve for a year as the spokesperson for the credit union’s education-focused program for 17-25 year-olds and receive a $27,500 salary (with the opportunity for a $5,000 bonus), an Apple MacBook Pro, an HD video camera and a smartphone. President/CEO Michael Poulos made the announcement.

The spokester will have the opportunity to engage with college students through social media, regular community events, daily blog posts and weekly videos encouraging smart financial behavior. The winner will also enjoy use of the Young & Free Michigan car for the year, along with paid gas and insurance. Those interested can visit YoungFreeMichigan.com to learn more.

“College is a critical time for the financial well-being of the next generation and Michigan First is committed to finding fun, engaging ways to connect with them,” says Poulos. “The Young & Free Michigan spokester can truly make a difference by sharing financial knowledge, as well as their passion, to help these students get started on the right financial foot.”

To apply, individuals must be between 18 and 25 years old, willing and able to work full-time, and reside in metro Detroit from June 2014 to June 2015. Applicants should bring their creativity, tech savvy and passion for helping others to a short, 60-second video demonstrating why they would be the ideal spokesperson. They will also need to submit an entertaining blog post on a financial topic, completing their entry by 3 p.m. April 15. A public vote from April 17-22 will help determine the 10 finalists who will be invited for an in-person “meet up” event before the final decision is made.

For more information about Lathrup Village-based Michigan First Credit Union, visit www.MichiganFirst.com.

+ Original articles

Michigan First Credit Union aims to add 17 jobs

metromode | By Jon Zemke

Michigan First Credit Union is in the process of hiring another 17 people right now, including a new spokester for its Young & Free Michigan program.

The Lathrup Village-based credit union currently employs 247 people across six stand-alone branches, plus three more in Meijer stores. It is replacing a branch on Gratiot Avenue, which is expected to open this fall. Michigan First Credit Union has hired 17 people over the last year. Its new positions range from IT professionals to branch operations. For information on those jobs, click here.

Among the new positions is the credit union’s spokester job for its Young & Free Michigan program. The 3-year-old program employs one college student for a year, making the person the credit union’s spokester. The spokester engages local college students through social media, community events, blog posts and online videos. The idea is to encourage smart financial behavior and help attract more young people to the credit union.

"The year goes by so fast," says Vicky Goldwater, young & free Michigan spokester for Michigan First Credit Union. She worked as a waitress and studied communications at Macomb Community College before taking the position. "The experience was awesome."

Michigan First Credit Union is taking applications for this year's spokester. The position comes with paid gas and insurance. Applicants are expected to make a video when applying. More info can be found here.

"Have fun with the video," Goldwater says. "Be yourself."

Michigan First Credit Union has about 94,300 members in Michigan, which is up more than 4,000 since the beginning of 2013. It has added $30 million in assets in the last year, totaling $674 million.

+ Original article

Wells Fargo Launches Web Magazine, Seeks 'Deeper' Ties with Customers

American Banker | By Mary Wisniewski

Michigan First Credit Union, for example, hires young brand ambassadors to blog and create videos of relevant content to millennials. Salem Five in Massachusetts profiles some of its successful business customers and distributes their stories and other content via email campaigns.

+ Original article

Michigan First Kicks Off Search for Next Young 'Spokester'

DBusiness

Michigan First Credit Union announced its fourth annual Young & Free Michigan “Spokester” search today.

The winner will serve for a year as the spokesperson for the credit union’s education-focused program for 17-25 year-olds and receive a $27,500 salary (with the opportunity for a $5,000 bonus), an Apple MacBook Pro, an HD video camera and a smartphone. s made the announcement.

The spokester will have the opportunity to engage with college students through social media, regular community events, daily blog posts and weekly videos encouraging smart financial behavior. The winner will also enjoy use of the Young & Free Michigan car for the year, along with paid gas and insurance. Those interested can visit YoungFreeMichigan.com to learn more.

“College is a critical time for the financial well-being of the next generation and Michigan First is committed to finding fun, engaging ways to connect with them,” saysPresident/CEO Michael PouloPoulos. “The Young & Free Michigan spokester can truly make a difference by sharing financial knowledge, as well as their passion, to help these students get started on the right financial foot.”

To apply, individuals must be between 18 and 25 years old, willing and able to work full-time, and reside in metro Detroit from June 2014 to June 2015. Applicants should bring their creativity, tech savvy and passion for helping others to a short, 60-second video demonstrating why they would be the ideal spokesperson. They will also need to submit an entertaining blog post on a financial topic, completing their entry by 3 p.m. on April 15.

A public vote from April 17-22 will help determine the 10 finalists who will be invited for an in-person “meet up” event before the final decision is made.

+ Original article

Young & Free Michigan Helps Students Pay For College

Detroit CBS | By Greg Bowman

It’s no secret that the cost of going to college has risen dramatically in recent years. So how much has it gone up? According to a Bloomberg Report, college tuition and fees have skyrocketed more than 1,120 percent since 1978.

To help students afford those rising costs, Michigan First Credit Union is once again sponsoring the Young & Free Michigan Scholarship Competition, with a total of $85,000 in scholarships available to high school and college students between the ages of 17 and 25. The top three winners will receive scholarships of $3,000, $5,000 and $10,000.

Vicky Goldwater, 21, of Clinton Township is “Spokester” for Young And Free Michigan.

“It’s my job to write weekly blogs and make weekly videos all on Young & Free Michigan.com,” said Goldwater. “I also get to go to community events and help promote being money smart. So we’re currently having a scholarship competition that we have every year. And we’re giving out up to $85,000 in scholarship money.”

Goldwater says students can write an essay or produce a short video to win the scholarship money. “And all they have to do is answer a question: ‘What event or person other than your parents has made the most significant impact on your life, and how has it changed you and how will you use it in the future.’ And all they have to do is put the video up on You Tube and then submit the entry onto Young & Free Michigan.com.”

What advice does Goldwater have for young people thinking about entering the scholarship competition? “It’s fun. It’s a good chance to express yourself. It’s not just an essay. It’s also a video. I know our generation is really savvy with videos and being online. So it’s worth taking advantage of and I wish everyone good luck.”

The entry deadline is February 13. And then family members and friends can vote for their favorite videos online from February 13 to Feb. 19th.

+ Original article

Millennials Save Big at a Credit Union

 Credit Unions Online | By Gina Ragusa

Why do millennials need to pay especially close to how they handle finances? One reason is because student loan debt has overwhelmed the majority of young adults, averaging approximately $29,400 for someone who graduated in 2012.

That’s a lot of cabbage considering that a Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce found that most millennials wouldn’t earn the median-wage annual income of $42,000 until they are at least 30 years old.

The good and bad news is that most consumers within this age bracket know they are in over their head. A recent survey by Harvard’s Institute of Politics found that a whopping 79% believe that student loan debt is a significant problem, which is a good chunk of the 14 million people under the age of 30 with an open student loan.

While 30% of millennials blame the government for this roadblock, 42% believe the fault lies with the colleges. Either way, young adults need help, which is exactly what credit unions are prepared to offer.

Young and Free--of Debt!

In recent years, the credit union industry rolled out a specialized program geared specifically to young adults’ needs and goals. “Young and Free” is offered at a variety of credit unions throughout the country, providing not only exclusive deals on rates and fees, but also important advice on how to best manage money. The program is open to members ages 17 to 25.

Each Young and Free program has its own “spokester,” a peer who actively reaches out through advertising and social media to communicate the benefits of credit union membership.

"My generation has so many financial decisions to make--which is always a challenge. " says Vicky Goldwater, Spokester for Young & Free Michigan. "As the spokester for the Young & Free Michigan program, I get to interact with high school and college students, hear their financial fears and, hopefully, help them start to ask the right questions. As community based non-profits, even my peers without a ton of financial expertise can understand that credit unions will have their members' best interests at heart."

Michigan First Credit Union (Lathrup Village, MI) reports a decent response to its Young and Free program, which launched in 2011. "Since kicking off the Young & Free Michigan program in 2011, we've opened more than 6,700 First Gear checking accounts and shared our positive financial message with thousands of 17-25 year olds in metro Detroit," says Sue Postemski, vice president of marketing for Michigan First. "Credit unions are an ideal place for young people to learn about banking and personal finance, and Young & Free has given us a great tool to connect with them. The First Gear checking account has 'training wheels' to help them learn the ropes of money management, like overdraft forgiveness. Also, YoungFreeMichigan.com and the program's social media channels are filled with fun financial insights."

Currently, Young and Free Michigan is giving away up to $85,000 in scholarships along with over $100,000 in prizes, not to mention a free checking account and a 1% rate discount on auto loans.

For Young and Free members at Vantage Credit Union (St. Louis, MO), it’s all about inspiring members to utilize money saving opportunities through their credit union.

"Young adults are making decisions on where to do the majority of their banking for the rest of their lives,” says Rachel Parent, community engagement manager. “Credit unions are definitely the wisest choice, but our constant struggle is how to get them in the door. Through Young & Free St. Louis we have been able to attract young adults to Vantage Credit Union and show them there really is a difference in where you keep your money.”

“Not only do we offer great products and services, we care about helping you along the way,” Parent adds. “Through the Young & Free blog and social media interactions, we strive to educate, inspire and inform our young members in areas of finance and share simple tips for saving or finding things to do locally, usually free or inexpensive. We see it as an opportunity to build relationships and loyalty, not just add more accounts and loans, which happen to show up through those relationships anyway."

+ Original article

Goldwater puts a youthful face on Michigan First Credit Union's effort to encourage money management

The Macomb Daily | By Molly Tippen 

Understanding the subtleties of money management is not something that appeals to young people. Most are either spending what they earn or worrying about the specter of student loan payments.

Photo by MOLLY TIPPEN Vicky Goldwater, takes a quick break at the credit unions on-campus branch at Wayne State University in Detroit. A video in which she appears plays on a closed-circuit television in the background.        

Photo by MOLLY TIPPEN Vicky Goldwater, takes a quick break at the credit unions on-campus branch at Wayne State University in Detroit. A video in which she appears plays on a closed-circuit television in the background.        

But at Michigan First Credit union, an effort is underway to make financial literacy more palatable to young people, whom by many accounts are a technologically-connected generation that is painfully disconnected from the tenants of financial literacy.

Enter Vicky Goldwater, who earlier this year was hired by the credit union to blog, meet with young people and represent Generation Y as its official Young & Free Michigan “spokester.”

The Young & Free Michigan program is a web-based marketing effort that targets young people from the ages of 17 to 25 years old. The cornerstone of the initiative is its use of social media, online videos and the internet to help young people take control of their financial future using the tools they’re the most comfortable with -- laptops, hand-held devices and cell phones.

To Goldwater, a 20-year-old Clinton Township resident who attends Macomb Community College, the opportunity to represent her age group is one that’s been a learning experience.

“I like working with people, and I feel like a spokester that is young is relatable to other young people,” said Goldwater. “I’m working at the branch locations, I’m traveling to events to talk about credit unions, and writing blogs to help other young people understand their finances.”

Linda Douglas, the vice president of marketing for Michigan First, said the Young & Free program fill a niche that has been challenging for financial institutions – how to reach the under-25 set.

“The program is designed to use technology and social media to get young people more interested in their finances,” she said. “Young people are very committed to social media, and peer interaction is extremely important to them. That’s why having a spokesperson is important.”

A year-long endeavor

The Young & Free Program is a nationwide program that is sponsored locally by Michigan First. To win the year-long spokester assignment, Goldwater made a short video explaining why she would be the right person for the position. Michigan First members voted on the candidate videos to identify finalists, who then participated in interviews with senior personnel at the credit union.

As part of the full-time position, Goldwater is featured prominently on the Young & Free Michigan website. She also stars in promotional videos that are used at all Michigan First branches. For travel to and from colleges, branch offices and events, Goldwater has the use of the cool Spokester car for the entire year.

On a daily basis Goldwater blogs about various topics. Recent entries include how to avoid ATM fees, how to avoid making impulse purchases, and retirement planning.

Douglas said young people are more likely to receive the message about financial management from someone like them.

“I hope that young people are able to learn about the financial process, and that the program gives them personal growth,” she said.

Youth=debt

If ever young people needed a leg up in terms of financial know-how, it’s now.

A 2008 report compiled by the New York-based think tank Demos called “The Economic State of Young America” indicated that debt young people now leave college with an unprecedented level of debt: the average amount was $19,200. The report indicated that Americans under the age of 24 were more likely to resort to using credit cards to make ends meet than previous generations, and more young people pay more than 30 percent of their pre-tax income towards rent or a mortgage.

As for Vicky Goldwater, she hopes that young people learn as much about finances from Young & Free as she has learned working as a spokester. After her tenure ends in May, she plans on transferring to Oakland University to study communications.

“I hope they learn what a credit union can offer,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot simply by doing research about money and loans; I try to help as many people as possible.”

 + Original article

How Do I Find a Great Student Checking Account?

nerdwallet | By Laura

For many young adults, college is full of firsts. It might be your first time living away from home, your first time managing bills and, quite possibly, your first time using a student checking account. You can open one just about anywhere, but don’t sign up for anything without doing your homework. Checking fees vary greatly depending on which bank you choose, and it’s important to make sure that you’re getting a great deal. We talked to finance experts around the country to get their input on what you should look for when you’re shopping around. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Make sure the account is truly free

Since the amount of money you have in college may fluctuate greatly, a free checking account with no monthly maintenance fee or minimum balance requirement works best for most college students. Although it’s getting harder to find free checking accounts at big banks, many smaller banks and credit unions still offer them.

Craig Sonnenberg, organizational research manager at Summit Credit Union, says, “research account fees online before you open your account. To get your checking for free, many banks require you to keep a minimum balance in your account or keep a certain number of services that are profitable to them. But there are free checking accounts still out there for you if you take a few minutes to look for them.”

It’s also important to look for sneaky, less-common fees that make your free checking account not-so-free after all. Craig adds, “be aware of hidden fees that might apply when you do certain transactions on your account. These can really add up during the month. How much does it cost if you overdraft your account? Are there any charges for using your debit card at another financial institution’s ATM? If you can’t easily find a list of these fees on the bank’s website, it might be a good idea to consider a different financial institution for your checking.”

2. Look for extra perks like mobile apps, rewards and abundant ATMs

A free checking account is great, but a free checking account with extra perks is even better. Art Villalobos, branch manager for Lone Star Capital Bank, says that students should ask themselves, “what can this bank do for me? Some checking accounts offer rewards with their debit cards. With these rewards, students may be able to redeem their points for gas cards, restaurant cards and sometimes even cash. One may consider driving just a tad further for a bank that offers some kind of rewards program.”

Online and mobile banking are especially good perks. Vicky Goldwater, Michigan First Credit Union’s Young & Free Michigan ”spokester”, says, “definitely look for an account that you can stay connected to through online and mobile banking, remote deposit, etc., and one with lots of ATM options. Look for accounts that offer specific benefits for college students.” Stephen Badman, marketing director at Consumers National Bank, says, “Choose a bank account that offers text message alerts to help keep track of the balance in your account and notify you when the balance is low.”

3. Don’t bother with overdraft protection

Most of the time, there’s really no point in signing up for overdraft protection. Debra Howell, project manager at LifeCounts, agrees, saying, “you should decline (opt out of) any type of “overdraft privilege” feature that will cause the approved overdraft limit to be added to your account balance and presented as part of your total available balance for ATM and POS transactions. This is not a benefit – it is an income stream for the bank. It encourages people to spend beyond their balance, creating an overdraft debt (loan) and then requires them to pay fees and interest on the borrowed amount.” Scott Gamm, youth finance advisor for H&R Block Dollars & Sense, recommends that you, “opt for online banking so you can keep track of your purchases and have the bank block your card if you are going to overdraft.”

Long story short, take your time, ask questions, and be sure to research all the perks and fees that the account includes. Happy banking!

 + Original article

Michigan First Credit Union and Young and Free Michigan Complete Random Acts of Kindness Initiative

MacombTownship Patch | By Amanda Braniecki

FRASER, Mich. – August 13, 2013 – Fraser High School’s marching band received a refreshing surprise when Vicky Goldwater, spokester for Young & Free Michigan, an initiative aimed at spreading a positive financial message to young adults ages 17-25 in metro Detroit, distributed more than 230 bottles of water to its band members to cap off Michigan First Credit Union’s “Random Acts of Kindness” campaign.

Goldwater spearheaded the local community service project, in which she devoted the month of July to give back to the community through creative activities that required little investment, yet positively impacted metro Detroit area residents.

“In my role as spokester, I am always trying to find unique and exciting ways to promote a positive financial message, while at the same time giving back to the community,” Goldwater said. “Launching a random acts of kindness program offered that perfect balance, and it was incredibly inspiring to be a part of a larger community project. In 25 days, I was able to touch the lives of hundreds of metro Detroiters, proving that a little time and money can go a long way.”

Goldwater’s 25 acts included donating to the Ronald McDonald Charity jar at a local business, dropping off breakfast to a Southfield fire station, supplying hygiene products to the homeless in Detroit, volunteering at St. Leo’s soup kitchen, cleaning up a section of the Manistee beach, sending thank you cards to soldiers overseas and donating blood.

About Michigan First Credit Union
Founded in 1926 by a small group of Detroit teachers, Lathrup Village-based Michigan First Credit Union (www.MichiganFirst.com) has grown into a more than $650 million financial institution serving over 90,000 individuals and local businesses across the state. An industry leader in consumer-focused technology and dedicated customer service, the credit union is also a significant supporter of financial education and community organizations. Largely through the efforts of the Michigan First Foundation, the credit union will donate more than $180,000 to nonprofits and scholarships this year.

About Young & Free Michigan
Young & Free Michigan, powered by Michigan First Credit Union, is an ongoing effort to give the 17-to-25 year-old crowd a voice, a head start and useful information about their finances. Each year, an energetic and engaging young adult wins the coveted full-time role of spokester and uses the site’s blog, videos and frequent community appearances to share insight into the best ways to handle financial issues. The spokester also encourages their peers to take advantage of Michigan First’s First Gear accounts, tailored specifically to their needs. Learn more at www.YoungFreeMichigan.com and follow Young & Free Michigan on Facebook and Twitter.

 + Original article