WASHINGTON – CUNA is finalizing its preparations for its participation in the upcoming Republican and Democratic National Conventions, even as the Republicans are making their own preparations should Hurricane Isaac affect their meeting scheduled for Tampa, Fla.

The trade group has participated in the conventions since 1988, and a major component of its participation each year is “Leave Behind” projects in each host city. This year CUNA partnered with the League of Southeastern CUs for the GOP convention and the North Carolina CU League for the Democratic convention to revitalize a pair of playgrounds at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in Tampa and Charlotte, respectively.

Trey Hawkins, VP of political affairs at CUNA, told Credit Union Journal projects such as this – which CUNA began at the 2000 conventions – are a way to continue serving the community long after the balloons have dropped and the conventions have ended. In previous years the organization has done financial literacy projects, ID kits for children, and in 2008 helped build handicapped-accessible houses for Iraq war veterans in both convention cities.

The total cost for each playground project was $300,000, which was raised by CU Leagues and foundations in each state. The Carolinas CU Foundation also assisted with the fundraising, and a similar project is slated for next year in South Carolina.

A formal ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled to take place at each facility during the convention. Hawkins did not know what would happen to that if next week’s Republican National Convention is disrupted by severe weather, as is currently expected.

In addition to the “Leave Behind” projects, CUNA is working with National Journal to co-sponsor “Daily Briefings” at each convention.

“We see it as an opportunity to continue to develop our political brand,” Hawkins said. “If you think of the conventions as an opportunity to talk to and communicate with all of the policy and media and political elites in one place, it’s an opportunity we don’t not want to take on behalf of credit unions.”


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