In 2011, World Council of Credit Unions added one new partnership to its existing International Partnership Program. In June, the Romanian credit union federation, FEDCAR established a formal relationship with the Ohio Credit Union League. The new partnership will focus on supporting and strengthening the Romanian federation.
The balance of 2011 was spent engaging as many partnerships in as many activities as possible, as well as identifying those partnerships that had completed their lifecycles and moved into a dormant phase. In 2012, the program will turn its focus to signing new partnerships by engaging new credit unions and organizations that had never before participated in the program, while at the same time reengaging those organizations involved in the past. The partnerships program maintained its strong level of support, with 19 partnerships having at least one partner providing direct financial support to the program. There are a total of 37 financial supporters in the program.
Partnership activities and other events sponsored by the partnerships program received more than their share of media coverage. (See attached.) Articles and stories on international partners and departmental programs often appear in league newsletters, CUNA's News Now, Credit Union Magazine, Credit Union Times and, periodically, in non-U.S. financial and trade publications. The program's efforts resulted in 18 news releases issued in 2011. Fourteen of those releases pertained to the international partnerships program and four others pertained to study tours.
In 2011, we continued finding success with World Council's Customized International Training. World Council hosted a record 14 international study programs throughout the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, serving 182 participants.
The partnerships program last year also engaged a total of five U.S. credit union and league volunteers in training events in Belize, El Salvador, Russia and Fiji.
One of our most significant achievements last year was receiving a U.S. State Department grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to carry out the Young Entrepreneurs Exchange Program in 2012 and 2013. The program falls under the State Department's Professional Fellows Program which gives industry employees and volunteers from foreign countries opportunities to participate in an internship in the U.S. The program also has a second component which allows their U.S. counterparts to participate in a program in the selected foreign country. The project awarded to the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions in 2012 and 2013 will work with Guatemala and the Dominican Republic.