Calling All Helmet Helpers:

Benchmark Federal Credit Union Invites Public to Donate Bike Helmets for Local Children in Need

WEST CHESTER, PA – July 10, 2019 – To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the upcoming Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic, Benchmark Federal Credit Union is launching its inaugural “Helmet Helpers” bike helmet donation campaign to provide hundreds of bike helmets to local children in need.

Now through August 16th, Benchmark Federal Credit Union is collecting children’s bike helmets at its branches on 323 East Gay Street and 1522 McDaniel Drive in West Chester, as well as 785 Starr Street in Phoenixville. The community, businesses and Benchmark members are encouraged to become Helmet Helpers by dropping off new children’s bike helmets, which will be distributed to community organizations that serve Chester County children in need. 

Donors can also drop off children’s bike helmets at the Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic on Saturday, August 10, 2019. Beginning at 4pm on race day, patrons are invited to visit the Benchmark Twilight’s Community Festival on High St. between Gay and Market St., head for the tent marked “Benchmark Federal Credit Union” and drop off a helmet.

While at Benchmark’s tent, patrons can pick up an official Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic cow bell to cheer on the pro cyclists (free while supplies last), enjoy free face painting for kids and a chance to win free VIP tickets to the West Chester Christmas Parade with prime viewing, heat lamps, food and drink.

“We kicked off our Helmet Helpers campaign earlier this summer by donating 100 bike helmets to preschoolers in Coatesville, and with our community’s help, we know we can give even more,” said Benchmark Federal Credit Union President and CEO Daniel J. Machon, Jr. “Every child in our community deserves the chance to be healthy and safe.”

“It is initiatives like this that bring businesses and the community together to benefit those in need,” said Mark Yoder, President and CEO of the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce, organizer of the Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic. “We are proud to have Benchmark Federal Credit Union as a Chamber member, the title sponsor of the Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic and an incredible supporter of our community.”

Now in its 15th year, the Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic has become famous for its full-throttle, professional cycling action through downtown West Chester on a challenging .6-mile course covering eight city blocks. All while offering plenty of free, family-friendly activities and fun on the surrounding side streets for all to enjoy. For more information on the August 10th event in downtown West Chester, go to https://greaterwestchester.com/

$15,000 IN SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED TO LOCAL STUDENTS BY BENCHMARK FEDERAL CREDIT UNION

Five local students have been chosen to receive college scholarships from Benchmark Federal Credit Union, which awards $15,000 annually to local students.

Class of 2019 High School Seniors:

  • Maria Costa – Graduated from Downingtown STEM Academy in Downingtown, PA and is attending Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Aiden Minio – Graduated from Downingtown East High School in Exton, PA and is attending Penn State University
  • Jack Phillips – Graduated from Pope John Paul II High School in Royersford, PA and is attending the University of Notre Dame

Current College Students:

  • Jacob Csuy – Attends Drexel University after graduating from Unionville High School in Kennett Square, PA
  • Katherine Giordano – Attends Stanford University after graduating from Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone, NJ as well as Princeton University

Each of the high school seniors who just graduated will receive a $4,000 scholarship and each of the existing college students will receive a one-time $1,500 scholarship.

All scholarship applicants successfully answered the following: 

Why is it important to start budgeting while you’re in college?

Build and explain the components of your college budget.

Essays of up to 750 words were due by mid-April and then judged by an independent panel of community and education leaders. The scholarship program was open to students who already are, or are eligible, to become Benchmark FCU members, and did so prior to the contest deadline. The minimal membership fee to join the credit union is $5.00. 

“We are committed to financial literacy across Chester County and want to support financial success strategies from childhood on up through our financial literacy programs in more than 60 public, private and parochial schools, as well as our 2019 scholarship competition,” says Benchmark Federal Credit Union President and CEO Daniel J. Machon, Jr.

For almost a decade, Benchmark Federal Credit Union has been presenting scholarship checks to students across the region. A total of five scholarships are available each year. Three graduating high school senior students each receive a $4,000 scholarship ($1,000 disbursed during the Fall semester of their first four years of higher education). Two students currently enrolled in an accredited higher-education institution each receive a one-time $1,500 scholarship toward their fall 2019 tuition.

Celebrating 15 years of Cycling Excitement: 2019 Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic returns to West Chester, PA

West Chester, PA May 15, 2019 - Now entering its fifteenth year, the 2019 edition of the Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic, sponsored by Benchmark Federal Credit Union, will find West Chester, PA, once again pulling out all stops as it hosts this exciting day of professional criterium racing and family fun. The action will take place from 3:00 P.M to 9 P.M. on Saturday, August 10, 2019.

"Over the last decade and a half, this iconic race continues to attract thousands of people from all over the region to downtown West Chester, creating solid economic impact and positive image enhancement for the borough," said Mark Yoder, President and CEO of the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce, the organizing body of the event.

Giving this year's race added importance is the fact that the Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic will be the final race of the USA CRITS Championship Series making it the last opportunity for riders to improve or hold on to their standing before the Finals in September.

Sponsored once again by Benchmark Federal Credit Union, the event has become famous for its impulsivity and fun, and often plays out like a 3-hour slugfest on the challenging 0.6-mile course covering eight city blocks of downtown West Chester.

"We are proud to once again support West Chester's signature summer event," says Benchmark Federal Credit Union President and CEO Daniel J. Machon, Jr. "West Chester is our home. And as the only federal credit union that exclusively serves Chester County, we value the opportunity to be title sponsor for this great event."

Reflecting on the 15-year history of the bike race drives home the point of how much the event has grown. In 2005, only a few thousand race fans lined the downtown streets to watch the inaugural race. Over the last decade attendance has risen to 15,000 to 20,000 spectators happy to make a day of it, enjoying a full schedule of competitive bike racing and many family-friendly activities. It is a showcase for top professional men and women riders from all over the nation - and beyond, offering economic parity between the pro men's and pro women's races.

Races include Iron Hill Pro Men's Criterium, Pro Women's Criterium, Rothman Institute Amateur Criterium, West Chester Dental Arts Kids' Race, and Tolsdorf Trike Challenge.

In addition to bike racing, the Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic will feature such family-friendly activities as the MacElree Harvey Kids' Zone and a Community Festival where visitors can explore an array of shopping booths, food stands and other fun activities while enjoying the non-stop, party-like ambiance. Throughout the afternoon and evening, craft beer and other beverages will be served at the Iron Hill Beer Garden.

For more information on the day's events, go to www.GreaterWestChester.com.

Benchmark Federal Credit Union Names New CEO

As you may already know from previous Benchmark communications, our long-time President and CEO David LaSala retired. David guided our leadership team since 1999, working with many of our staff for more than 20 years, and he will be greatly missed by the Benchmark family. He begins a well-deserved retirement filled with travel plans and more time spent with loved ones - especially his growing grandchildren.

As we wish David the best, we also want to take this opportunity to introduce you to our new President and CEO Daniel J. Machon, Jr. Dan is a proven leader who will uphold Benchmark's reputation for personalized, thoughtful member service as he spearheads opportunities for growth, innovation, and continued success. He comes to us from Stonebridge Bank in West Chester, where he served as President and CEO. He also held leadership positions at Colonial American Bank in Horsham, Keystone Savings and Loan in Philadelphia, and NOVA Financial Holdings, Inc.

Dan tells us, "I admire Benchmark's personalized approach, and respect their strength of membership and legacy of financial stability. I look forward to shaping Benchmark's future and building on the momentum it has gained since attaining its community charter to exclusively serve Chester County."

All of us at Benchmark Federal Credit Union look forward to continuing to serve you. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our new President and CEO, please feel free to reach out to us directly at (610) 429-1600.

 

Benchmark Federal Credit Union Donates $1,000 Worth of Toys While Sponsoring Toyland Division at QVC West Chester Christmas Parade

West Chester, PA – November 27, 2018 – Benchmark Federal Credit Union is parading with a purpose at the QVC West Chester Christmas Parade this Friday.

The only federal credit union to exclusively serve Chester County, Benchmark is sponsoring the Toyland Division for a third consecutive year and donating $1,000 worth of toys to local children in need. A holiday tradition for the financial institution, this year Benchmark Federal Credit Union is announcing the donation will go to North Star of Chester County.

“Much of the appeal of a credit union is that members are part owners of their financial institutions. That spirit of supporting one another is why Benchmark feels so strongly about sponsoring community events like the QVC West Chester Christmas Parade and giving back to worthy local organizations like North Star of Chester County,” says Benchmark Vice President of Marketing Rebecca Worthington.

Benchmark Federal Credit Union began supporting the beloved Toyland Division of the QVC West Chester Christmas Parade in 2016, a few months after opening its downtown West Chester branch in Cambridge Square shopping center. It is also title sponsor of the Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic, which attracts thousands of pro racing fans to West Chester each August.

Headquartered in West Chester and providing financial products and services for more than 75 years, Benchmark Federal Credit Union is also announcing the return of its popular Winter Wishes Signature Loan Campaign. With rates as low as 5.99 percent Annual Percentage Rate, Benchmark members can enjoy extra cash for holiday shopping, entertaining or even a winter getaway.

“Be sure to look out for Benchmark volunteers as the Toyland Division kicks off at the QVC West Chester Christmas Parade this Friday,” says Worthington. “We are proud to support one of our community’s most beloved holiday traditions.”

 

Benchmark Federal Credit Union Survey Shows Local High School Students Vastly Underestimate Cost of Living Expenses

West Chester, PA – October 23, 2018 – A survey of local high school students shows their primary money concern if they go to college is living expenses, yet the majority vastly underestimate those expenses by about 50 percent.

The survey was conducted by Benchmark Federal Credit Union (the only federal credit union to exclusively serve Chester County) during financial literacy workshops for 69 juniors and seniors at Downingtown East High School. About half of the students surveyed (34) said their primary money concern if they go to college is how to budget for living expenses. Slightly less (29) said their primary money concern is how they would pay back college loans. The small remainder listed credit or debit card debt, weekend fun, and “other” as money concerns.

While living expenses is the top concern in the survey, 80 percent of the students surveyed (55 of 69 students) underestimated those living expenses, saying their living expenses would be $1,000 or less per month. According to the College Board , college living expenses average more than twice that -- $2,081 per month -- on a moderate budget for 2018-2019. In the Benchmark Federal Credit Union survey, only 8 students estimated more than $2,000 a month for their living expenses. Most (22 students) estimated $501-$750 per month, followed by $751-$1000 per month and $251-$500 per month.

“This dramatic disparity is something Benchmark Federal Credit Union has long observed while supporting our members as their children transition from living at home to living semi-independently for the first time at college,” said David LaSala, Benchmark Federal Credit Union President and CEO. “Many children are unprepared for the expenses facing them and how to budget for those expenses while living responsibly.”

To aid in increasing financial literacy, Benchmark Federal Credit Union provides a free, award-winning financial literacy curriculum in more than 59 public, private, and parochial schools across Chester County that aligns with state curriculum requirements for personal finance education. Students are exposed to real-life scenarios where they learn to pay bills, balance a budget, and manage unexpected expenses such as parking tickets, interest charges and overdraft fees. The educational program also introduces students to auto loans, bank statements, entertainment costs, savings and more.

Benchmark Federal Credit Union also offers the following 5 tips to students heading off to college:

  1. Set monthly financial goals. Establish what end result you want to reach, and make choices based on your top priorities.
  2. Analyze where your money goes. Track your actual spending each month using a budget worksheet or spreadsheet.
  3. Build a budget. After you’ve tracked actual spending, try to keep your expenses in line with your goals.
  4. Choose a credit card carefully. Shop around for the best offers available from local financial institutions you know and trust.com notes that credit unions often offer better value.
  5. Consolidate debt. If a new college student does rack up credit card debt, consolidation is key. That means taking all of your high-interest credit card debt and transferring it to a new credit card with a lower interest rate.

Below are the complete results of the Benchmark Credit Union survey:

My primary money concern if I go to college is:

How to budget for my living expenses

34

How I'll be able to pay back my college loans

29

How to decide which credit or debit card is best

3

How to pay for weekend fun

2

Other

1

 

How much do you think your monthly living expenses will be if you attend college:

$0 -$250 per month

6

$251 - $500 per month

13

$501 - $750 per month

22

$751 - $1,000 per month

14

$1,001 - $2,000 per month

6

More than $2,000 per month

8

 

$15,000 in Scholarships Awarded to Chester County-Area Students by Benchmark Federal Credit Union

WEST CHESTER, PA – June 30, 2018 – Five students have been chosen to receive college scholarships from Benchmark Federal Credit Union, which awards $15,000 annually to local students.

Graduating High School Seniors:

  • James Armstrong – Graduating from Downingtown STEM Academy and attending University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School
  • Sydney Zeigler – Graduating from Spring-Ford High School and attending Kutztown University
  • Ashlynn Lennon – Graduating from Twin Valley High School and attending Saint Francis University

Current College Students:

  • Samantha Ferguson – Attends Millersville University after graduating from Coatesville Area High School
  • Katherine Giordano – Attends Princeton University

Each of the graduating high school seniors will receive a $4,000 scholarship, and each of the college students will receive a $1,500 scholarship.

All scholarship applicants successfully answered the following:  Pick an experience from your life and explain how it has influenced your financial development/well-being . Essays of up to 750 words were due at the end of March and then judged by an independent panel of community and education leaders. The scholarship program was open to students who already are, or are eligible, to become Benchmark FCU members, and did so prior to the contest deadline. The minimal membership fee to join the credit union is $5.00.

“For almost a decade, we have been thrilled to present scholarship checks to students across the region as they pursue their dreams,” says David LaSala, Benchmark President and CEO. “Benchmark is committed to supporting financial success strategies throughout our Chester County community.” 

As the only federal credit union to serve Chester County exclusively, Benchmark also provides a free, award-winning financial literacy curriculum in more than 59 public schools across Chester County. The interactive, online program aligns with state curriculum requirements for personal finance education. Students are exposed to real-life scenarios where they learn to pay bills, balance a budget, and manage unexpected expenses such as parking tickets, interest charges, and overdraft fees. The educational program also introduces students to auto loans, bank statements, entertainment costs, savings, and more.

 

Chester County Single Mothers' Conference Sponsored by Benchmark Federal Credit Union

WEST CHESTER, PA – February 1, 2018 – The Chester County Community Collaborative is proud to announce that the 6 th Annual Chester County Single Mothers’ Conference will take place on Saturday, April 14, 2018 at Henderson High School in West Chester. Sponsored for a third consecutive year by Benchmark Federal Credit Union , all single mothers are invited to attend free of charge.

“More than 9,000 households are led by single mothers in Chester County, yet women here earn roughly 70 percent of what men do,” says Benchmark Federal Credit Union Vice President of Marketing Rebecca Worthington. “This can make it challenging for hard-working mothers to support their families. We are pleased to be offering financial guidance, including tips on how to build credit, to single mothers in our Chester County community. We will also take a look at individual financial situations, and pinpoint ways for single mothers to make the most of their paychecks.”

This year’s conference theme is “Single Doesn’t Mean Alone” and is devoted to encouraging, educating and empowering single moms in their role as sole provider for the family. More than 70 exhibitors and speakers will provide resources and activities including workshops, clinics and demonstrations on parenting, self-defense, custody, child support, finances and more. The day includes lunch, free childcare, door prizes, a photo booth and pampering.

“No one is on an island, yet that is the way many single mothers feel,” says Conference Co-Chair Matrie Johnson, of PA Home of the Sparrow. “We want to reinforce that ‘single’ does not mean ‘alone.’ There are people and resources surrounding you in your Chester County community, and we want to be sure our single moms have easy access to them, all under one roof.”

This year’s conference will include an award for a single mother nominated by the community and recognized by her peers.

For more information, call 484-876-1582 or e-mail [email protected] . Follow the Single Mothers’ Conference on Facebook: SingleMothersCC #SingleNotAlone

About the Chester County Community Collaborative

The Chester County Community Collaborative is a collection of non-profit agencies and independent interests working for the betterment of single mothers in our area. The following organizations are part of the collaborative: Good Samaritan Services, Home of the Sparrow, Interfaith Housing Assistance Corporation of Chester County, ACT in Faith of Greater West Chester, Chester County Health Department, Open Hearth Inc., Salvation Army of West Chester, Chester County Intermediate Unit, Maternal and Child Health Consortium of Chester County, YMCA of Brandywine Valley, and volunteers from the community.

 

Benchmark Federal Credit Union Named New Title Sponsor of Iconic West Chester Bike Race

WEST CHESTER, PA – February 8, 2017 – Just days after the cancellation of Manayunk’s bike race due to lack of sponsors, West Chester’s iconic bike race announces a new title sponsor and name change for the first time in its 12-year history.

Benchmark Federal Credit Union will sponsor the Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic for the next five years, ensuring the continued success of the race series best known for the thousands of fans it draws to its twilight road course through the heart of downtown West Chester, Pennsylvania.

“This bike race has become part of the fabric of our community,” says Benchmark President and CEO David LaSala. “As the only federal credit union to exclusively serve Chester County, we are proud to support one of our community’s most iconic events.”

The Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic will take place Saturday, August 12 th , 2017. Previously called the Iron Hill Twilight Race Series, Iron Hill will continue to support the event by sponsoring the Pro Men’s Race.

“This is truly a testament to the collaborative nature of the West Chester business community,” says Mark Yoder, President of the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the race series. “Benchmark is stepping up to the plate at a time when sponsorships have been scarce for other bike races.”

The Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic includes a 0.6-mile course over eight city blocks of downtown West Chester, featuring four 90-degree turns and one short rise. Races include Pro & Amateur Men’s Criteriums, Pro Women’s Criterium, Kids’ Race, and the ever-popular Tricycle Challenge. Family festivities have grown over its twelve-year history to include a Community Festival, Kids’ Zone, and Market Street Block Party.

 

Benchmark Federal Credit Union Makes Award-Winning Financial Literacy Program Free for Local Classrooms  

WEST CHESTER, PA – August 29, 2016 – Local students are getting a free education in how to manage their money. Benchmark Federal Credit Union is working with Banzai, a national award-winning financial literacy program, to make curriculum available to 43 Chester County schools completely free.

"Banzai is a web-based financial literacy program. Kids get their own accounts, and they work through assignments that are based on real life," Morgan Vandagriff, co-founder of Banzai, said. "But because Benchmark Federal Credit Union is sponsoring it, local schools get it for free. More than ever, it's important that kids develop sound financial skills to prepare them for the real world, and Benchmark Federal Credit Union realizes that and they're doing something about it."

“We are the only federal credit union to exclusively serve Chester County, so we know the children in our community from the time they open their first bank accounts for their allowances, to when they later get married and have their own children,” says Benchmark President & CEO David LaSala. “It’s an incredible feeling to know that we can reach even more Chester County schools – 43 of them! – with this valuable curriculum.”

Banzai is an interactive, online program supplemented by printed workbooks which aligns with state curriculum requirements for personal finance education. It has become the largest program of its kind, servicing more than 20,000 teachers and available in all 50 states.

As Benchmark Federal Credit Union expands with new branches in downtown West Chester and Phoenixville, it has offered time, money, industry experience, and a variety of credit union resources to help local schools teach personal finance in the classroom. Students using the program are exposed to real-life scenarios where they learn to pay bills and balance a budget -- but it’s not always easy. Students must learn to manage unexpected expenses such as parking tickets, interest charges and overdraft fees. The educational program also introduces students to auto loans, bank statements, entertainment costs, savings and more.

“Too often students get out of school and they just aren't ready for the financial roller coasters life can give us,” Vandagriff said. “Banzai teaches students to navigate those twists and turns and come out on top. We're excited to work with Benchmark Federal Credit Union to improve financial literacy in their local schools.”

Teachers interested in using the Banzai program can visit benchmarkfcu.teachbanzai.com or call 888-8-BANZAI.

 

Benchmark Federal Credit Union Announces Expanded Membership Throughout Chester County

WEST CHESTER, PA – June 16, 2015 – Benchmark Federal Credit Union proudly announces a new community charter that expands its footprint and enables it to exclusively serve Chester County, Pennsylvania. The not-for-profit financial cooperative that is owned by its members received approval to expand on April 10, 2015, just in time for its 75 th anniversary.

“With the new charter, anyone who lives, worships, works, or attends school within Chester County, Pennsylvania can now become a member and access the same high-caliber financial services, competitive loans, and interest rates that were previously available only to Wyeth/Pfizer employees and their immediate family members,” says David LaSala, President and CEO of Benchmark. “We are delighted to welcome new members and believe they will appreciate our dedication to serving people, not profit.”

Benchmark FCU began by serving employees of John Wyeth & Brothers, Inc. in Philadelphia in 1940, which later became Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, then Pfizer in 2009. Benchmark settled in Chester County to serve its membership, which now tops 12,500.

“People are realizing that when they buy local, whether it’s at a farmers’ market or neighborhood business, they get superior value and dedicated service. The same is true for a home-grown federal credit union like Benchmark,” says Rebecca Worthington, Marketing Director. “We know and care for the Chester County community, and our sole focus is to support and improve the economic well-being of our members throughout their lives, from birth to retirement.”

Benchmark Federal Credit Union’s Main Office is located in West Chester, PA with Branch Offices in Great Valley and Collegeville (inside Pfizer’s facility); as well as more than 5,000 Shared Branching Locations nationwide. Over the next two years, additional local branches will open throughout Chester County.

Savings are federally insured to at least $250,000 and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States government.  National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), a U.S. Government Agency.