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 6th 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 singlemothersconference@gmail.com. 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 12th, 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 75th 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.