Purdue Federal Credit Union was founded in 1969 on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette by university employees with the altruistic intention of people helping people in order to create for themselves a safe and fair way to borrow money.
That group of Purdue employees had been searching for a place in which they, their families, and their fellow employees could borrow and save money confidentially, safely, and at a fair interest rate. And so, in coming together with these goals in mind, the member-owned cooperative now known as Purdue Federal Credit Union was born.
“We were actually founded out of a cigar box where they kept the original first shares and we still have that cigar box in our board room here at our headquarters in West Lafayette,” said Carrie North, Assistant Vice President of Marketing at Purdue Federal Credit Union.
Now, with over $1 billion in assets and 71K members around the country, the member-owned financial cooperative has blossomed into eight full-service branches, three satellite branches, as well as offering a range of online and mobile banking services.
The name Purdue Federal was chosen as a way to better reflect the credit union's membership base, which includes students, faculty and staff, and also the communities in which Purdue University and its regional campuses, like Purdue Northwest - Westville Campus, operates.
“Purdue Federal is really worldwide,” added North. “We have a lot of Purdue students, faculty and staff who keep their accounts after they leave Purdue and head back to their home country."
Purdue Federal Credit Union's reach into Northwest Indiana took off with the acquisition of Members United Federal Credit Union in 2010.
“That was how we really ended up having the presence up in this area,” said Melissa Vega, Assistant Manager at Purdue Federal’s La Porte branch. “They did acquire us in December of 2010 and that’s when the relationship in La Porte County first started. Westville followed and it was August of 2012 when we opened our Westville Campus Branch.”
In working to be a trusted financial partner for members near and far, Purdue Federal and their staff is dedicated to the La Porte community where they have made their presence felt and continue to promote their mission of “people helping people.”
“We have a branch in La Porte and another on the Purdue Northwest - Westville Campus,” said North. “We’re actually owned by our members and, as a nonprofit cooperative, we always work in our members best interest.”
“The credit union philosophy is ‘People Helping People’ and that’s why we try to focus a lot on financial literacy, and in the communities in which we have branches.”
In the area of promoting financial literacy to students, Purdue Federal works closely with Banzai, a company that works to promote financial literacy in schools.
“Any teacher in our qualifying schools can order these financial literacy packets and it has information to take their students through real-life scenarios to try and teach them about financial literacy,” North said.
Vega added, “We’ve done lots of presentations in the past for local La Porte middle schools and also on campus at PNW. We use, mostly, the Banzai-related material but we do use presentations related to credit for college-aged audiences as well.”
In 2016, Purdue Federal was able to reach 8774 members who attended a free financial literacy session and, of those nearly 9K people, 6300 were attending a session for the first time.
“We’re really working hard to reach those people who haven’t had much financial literacy training in the past,” said North. “It’s something we’re really dedicated to as a credit union and a non-profit cooperative. By educating our members and the community on financial literacy, we hope to have a positive impact on their life and teach them the importance of healthy spending habits.”
April is ‘Youth Month’ and Purdue Federal is in the midst of a big effort to reach out to kids.
“We focus a lot of youth and April is ‘Youth Month’ for us,” North noted. “We have a big campaign going on now to teach kids to start savings as young as they can.”
“The theme this year is, ‘Give a Hoot About Savings’ and we’ve kind of themed it around animals. We actually have partnered with the Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City so we’re doing some things with them like giving away a birthday party, and we’ll have a Member Discount Day on April 29th at the Washington Park Zoo.”
Anyone in the La Porte County community can become a member of the Purdue Federal Credit Union and, to many, it’s comforting to know that their bottom line is based purely on the interests of members.
“We’re working hard to get the word out to the La Porte community that you don’t have to have a relationship with Purdue University to be a member,” North said. “We’re open to anyone in La Porte County.”
Purdue Federal offers essentially the same products that every other bank offers and, with the ATM and shared branching network, it’s not hard to find a credit union near you at which you can bank like any other branch location.
“That gives our members access to over 4K shared branches around the country and over 30K surcharge-free, ATM’s,” described North of the ATM and shared branching network. “So what that means is that you could be living in California and, on our App or website, you could easily find another credit union, or sometimes even a local bank in that network, and you can access your account at that location.”
Purdue Federal Credit Union, for several years in a row now, boasts the designation of ‘Best Places to Work in Indiana’ as a medium-sized business, which is something on which the company prides itself..
“It’s quite an honor,” said North, “and it’s something that our CEO and management team are very proud of. I think that helps us attract great talent to our team. We’re growing and we’re always hiring."
"We’re a great team!” North concluded.
To find out more about Purdue Federal Credit Union, visit their website at www.purduefed.com/.