A Brief History of VSECU
History of the Credit Union Movement
Many of the best ideas are born out of necessity, and the credit union movement is a good example. Credit unions first began in Germany and England in the mid- to late-1800s. During times of hardship, people banded together to pool their money and make loans to each other—thus the first credit unions were born! Eventually, the credit union movement crossed the Atlantic to North America, and the first credit union in the United States was established in New Hampshire in 1908—St. Mary’s Bank, which exists to this day.
Credit unions are unique because from the very roots of the credit union movement, the philosophy of “People Helping People” was the driving force. Over the past century, credit unions have gradually gained in popularity and today exist all over the world. Today, there are about 223 million members in 60,500 credit unions in 109 countries. In the U.S., about 6,126 credit unions serve nearly 107.1 million members and in Vermont, there are 21 credit unions in Vermont with about 348,000 members.
In 1946, seven employees of the State of Vermont gathered together to organize a credit union to offer affordable savings and credit for themselves and their fellow state employees. In 1947, the Vermont State Employees Credit Union was chartered by Vermont, and the first office opened in the state office building at 133 State Street in Montpelier.
At first, membership was open only to employees of the state of Vermont. In the 1960s, membership was expanded to include family members of any current member of the credit union. In April of 2002, the field of membership was expanded again to include anyone who works or lives in the six counties of Addison, Caledonia, Chittenden, Lamoille, Orange and Washington. Rutland County was added in 2006. Finally, in 2009, VSECU expanded its field of membership to include everyone who lives or works in Vermont!
Today, VSECU is the only credit union that can serve all Vermonters and is the second largest credit union in Vermont and the largest state-chartered credit union (the largest credit union is federally chartered). We serve approximately 63,000 members throughout Vermont and members who have moved from Vermont to other states and other countries. We offer our financial services through seven branch locations, 24/7 branch ATMs and ATM Co-op Network, a Call Center and the internet.
In 2006, VSECU introduced VBiz, business services for small businesses and nonprofits in Vermont. VSECU is committed to seeing Vermont-based businesses and organizations succeed. Through VBiz, we offer member businesses the same high quality products and services we have been providing our individual members since 1947.
VSECU office locations include:
1. Main Office, Montpelier (moved to 1 Bailey Ave in 1993)
2. Waterbury Branch (1981 and new site in 2012)
3. Rutland Branch (2002)
4. Burlington Branch(2002)
5. Berlin Branch (2003)
6. Williston Branch (2005)
7. Brattleboro Branch (2012)
8. St. Johnsbury Branch (2014)
9. Bennington Branch (2014)
As a not for profit financial institution, dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Vermonters, VSECU developed and continues to offer a full range of affordable products and services to members. In 2012, VSECU expanded the current line of loan offerings to include VGreen loans for off grid and solar projects. The popular VGreen product line continues to expand and grow to meet the evolving needs of the membership.
As a Vermont community-based cooperative, VSECU began giving back to the community through charitable giving in 2011, when it developed its employee managed community giving program. In 2012, they shifted the focus of the program, making it a member-directed giving program called We Care 2, through which members can direct a portion of $20,000 to charitable organizations in Vermont. These programs formed the foundation for other VSECU giving programs and initiatives.
In 2016, VSECU established a new vision: to inspire a movement that brings people together to empower the possibilities for greater financial, environmental, and social prosperity. This vision was in alignment with a larger movement of values-based and impact-driven cooperative organizations around the world and in Vermont. That same year, VSECU responded to the need for a stronger cooperative economy, supporting local communities with two initiatives—Co-op Capital, which promotes the development of cooperatives with long-term capital investments designed to help start new cooperative enterprises and grow established cooperative businesses; and Powered By VSECU, through which they partner with organizations to stimulate social and economic opportunities in Vermont.
VSECU continues to expand services as member and community needs change and opportunities grow through improved technology. We look ahead to an exciting future as we bring our financial services to more Vermonters.