CUNA and Hero Awards

“The credit Union movement. It is a great movement, worthy of great deeds, deserving of great loyalty.”

Edward Filene

US Credit Union Pioneer

Welcome to the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation’s Hero and State Level Awards Program resource page! Here you will find all the information and resource links you need to successfully complete your nomination for the State-Level Awards as well as the Foundation’s annual Hero Awards.

All State-Level Award and Foundation Hero Award winners are recognized each year at the Foundation’s Awards Gala. Past recipients of these honors can be found here. As your credit union members, employees and volunteers do good deeds on behalf of members and the community, we encourage you to honor their efforts by submitting an award in the appropriate category!

For more information on the Hero and State-Level Awards Programs, please contact Lauren Whaley or Jeff Hardin. State-Level Awards information and links may be found just below, and if you would like to skip down to the Hero Awards criteria, please click here.

State-Level Awards Program

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA), now America’s Credit Unions, created three awards to recognize credit unions for their remarkable and innovative efforts to support communities, provide financial education, and implement the credit union philosophy in daily operations. These awards honor three credit union pioneers who made a lasting impact on the worldwide credit union movement: Alphonse Desjardins, Dora Maxwell and Louise Herring.

Nominations from credit unions in the Carolinas are received electronically in the summer of each year. These nominations are then reviewed by a volunteer committee in the Carolinas, with statewide winners selected and announced in late summer each year. All statewide nominations are honored at the Foundation’s Awards Gala, which is held in conjunction with the Carolinas Credit Union League’s LAUNCH Conference.

On the national level, as part of the transformation to America’s Credit Unions, the leadership and board decided to temporarily suspend the awards program in 2024, meaning no national competition will take place. Rest assured, America’s Credit Unions is enthusiastic about establishing fresh recognition opportunities in 2025 and will keep you informed as more details unfold. With questions, please contact Mike Hughes

Award Categories

Nominations are accepted from credit unions for the following awards:

Dora Maxwell

The Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Award

The Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Award was created to encourage and honor credit union and chapter involvement in community projects and activities. Dora Maxwell was a community activist who committed her life to credit union development, to her community and to serving the underserved.

Louise Herring

The Louise Herring Philosophy in Action Award

This award, named for one of the original signers of the 1934 constitution that created CUNA, recognizes credit unions that do an extraordinary job incorporating credit union philosophy into daily operations. Louise Herring started numerous credit unions and believed strongly in applying credit union philosophy as an operating principle.

Alphonse Desjardins

Alphonse Desjardins Youth and Adult Financial Education Awards

The Desjardins Adult and Youth Financial Education Award programs recognize leadership within the credit union movement on behalf of financial literacy for members and nonmembers of all ages. The award, named after credit union pioneer Alphonse Desjardins, emphasizes the movement's longtime commitment to financial education. Nominations are accepted separately for programs benefiting young people and adults. 

How to Submit an Awards Application

To submit a nomination in any of these award categories, please use this link. (Please note that application criteria for each award may be found in the tabbed menu of the awards portal where you submit your applications. Please review the awards criteria carefully before submitting an application.) Please go to the Awards page for more information and to learn more about past national winners in each category.

Awards Nomination Timeline

August 1, 2024 – Extended deadline for all nominations for the State-Level Awards from the Carolinas.

Fall 2024 – Statewide winners announced by the Foundation and the League.

Early 2025 – All statewide award winners honored at the Foundation’s Awards Gala, held in conjunction with the League’s LAUNCH Conference.

For more information on the CUNA Awards Programs, please contact Lauren Whaley or Jeff Hardin.

Hero Awards

Each year, the Foundation honors people and organizations who have made or continue to make a transformational impact on the credit union movement. Hero Award winners are honored at the Foundation’s Awards Gala each year. 

Nominations for the following awards categories are accepted:

The Lifetime Achievement Award,

which honors one professional or one volunteer who has dedicated their life to promoting the credit union philosophy, created innovative concepts and exhibited leadership that has made a significant and lasting impact in the credit union movement on a local, national and/or international stage. This is traditionally awarded to an individual who has retired or has announced their retirement.

The Individual Achievement Award,

which honors one professional or one volunteer for their innovative concepts and/or accomplishments in the past three to five years that continue to contribute to the credit union community.

The Partner in Philanthropy Award,

which honors a business partner, service provider, chapter or credit union for its commitment and practices that exude philanthropic character and affirms the people helping people philosophy.

The Advancing Equity Award,

which honors an individual, credit union, business partner, or community non-profit for their commitment to the credit union industry’s 8th Cooperative Principle of DEI. This award recognizes the proactive efforts of people or organizations who cultivate belonging for all through fair and equitable policies, products, programs, and initiatives that enhance the well-being of employees, members, and/or surrounding communities. This award seeks to encourage those who, through committing time and resources to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, live out the cooperative principle to engage everyone in governance, management and representation.

How to Apply:

Please submit a detailed letter outlining the individual or organization and why they are deserving of a Hero Award. A minimum of one page is encouraged describing achievements, success stories, community and leadership positions and any other honors. Specifically for the Partner in Philanthropy nomination, please address community impact and the dedication of this organization or group to the cooperative principles.

The Carolinas Credit Union Foundation’s nomination committee, elected by the Board of Directors, will consider all submissions for the 2024 Hero Awards. Please submit your nomination letter via email to Lauren Whaley at [email protected] by September 20, 2024.