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Happy-ICU-Day-photo-300x282The credit union movement began 160 years ago with a simple but radical idea: People helping people. That with the help of your neighbors, you can improve your financial well-being.

This idea spread across the world, and credit unions flourished, especially during times of economic hardship.

During the Great Depression, scores of ordinary Americans—farmers, teachers, small business owners—found themselves without access to banking services, so they banded together to become their own not-for-profit financial institution. Credit unions opened in record numbers.

During the recent Great Recession, again credit union memberships swelled. Today there are more than 200 million credit union members worldwide—100 million of them in the U.S.

But even after all this time, the bedrock principles of credit unions remain unchanged. Credit unions are still:

People coming together to be their own bank, so no one can deny them a path to prosperity.

People pooling their savings to provide each other affordable credit.

People helping people.