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Modern Membership

If You (CU) Build It, They Will Come

Kristen Prilaman
Nov 4, 2022

“I thought we were going to get in trouble for having too much fun. We were loud, we were boisterous. We had a blast. We really did.”
- Gayle Hargis, IT Business Analyst at Neighborhood Credit Union

Let’s start with a game. Which of these options does the client quote above reference?

  1. The credit union technology meeting in Dallas, Texas
  2. A coding build-a-thon with branch managers, analysts, developers, and marketing
  3. A grassroots, cooperative, yet competitive banking solutions contest

You likely saw this coming but indeed, it’s a trick question and the answer is all of the above.

Late summer marked the second annual CU Build build-a-thon. At the event, 57 of the brightest credit union professionals in the industry gathered to participate in an innovative and exciting competition centered around one common theme: using technology to help people. CU Build’s mission is to spark innovation, cultivate learning, and foster development in the credit union system.

Not only did attendees come up with game-changing solutions to real-life problems, but they created connections and memories, too.

Bringing People Together

Listen, if you haven’t attended CU Build, you’re missing out!

Here’s how it works: no two people from the same credit union are on the same team – giving you the opportunity to network and learn from others who share your passion. Backgrounds are diverse. From tech-savvy programmers to marketing experts and everyone in between – the goal of CU Build is to provide an environment of collaboration with people who hold diverse skill sets and can take your team across the finish line.

After countless hours, tons of snacks, and lots of creative thinking – ten awards were given out based on various criteria. Awards included a grand prize, mission-focused award, and people’s choice award – just to name a few.

Teams are judged based on a rubric scale heavily influenced by presentation. Winners received some great prizes, including swag, gift cards, and complimentary registration to 2022 Jack Henry™ Connect. And, more importantly, winners get the honor of sharing their solutions to benefit communities far and wide.

And the Grand Prize Goes to …

The competition was fierce.

When judges saw the Play-Less team’s solution, “Our hairs were standing up on the back of our necks,” said Adele Glenn, Vice President of Projects and Consulting at Cutek and co-creator of CU Build.

I personally had the opportunity to chat with the winning team at Jack Henry Connect and their energy was still palpable a month following the build-a-thon.

Let’s take a quick look at the winning creation aptly named “Save More”.

This two-year program creates a new way for underserved members to save funds – transforming relationship pricing to help those who need it most. Additionally, the Save More program is the essence of people-inspired innovation. The team saw a need in their communities and used existing technology to not only fill the gap but create financially healthy, loyal members.

Specifically built for low-income households, Save More rounds up each transaction and transfers it to a high-dividend rate savings account. It’s a small cost for credit unions, but a big win for members who don’t have significant funds accessible to them. Not only can members start earning on top of that, but they’re rewarded for learning and repeating financially sound decisions.

The second part of the program, called “Score More,” keeps tabs on healthy spending (like gas and groceries) – eventually adding up to a reward that members will receive at the end of the two years.

The Play Less team essentially turned relationship pricing on its head.

One of the winning team members, Filip Danielewicz from Michigan State University Federal Credit Union, said it best. “Show members we want to engage with them and put them in a better state … and members will turn back around and invest with us in the future.”

In Other words, “Go. Just go!”

We started off with a quote from Hargis, so let’s wrap up with one too.

She addressed one of the concerns many people have when considering attending CU Build. “Don’t say I’m not a programmer. Don’t say I’m not in development. Don’t say I’m not in IT. Just go, because I just described myself. And I went, and I learned, and I contributed. It’s a win-win … on a personal level, on a professional level, for the CU industry, and hopefully for Jack Henry as well.”

In a recent press release, Shanon McLachlan, President of Credit Union Solutions at Jack Henry, echoed a similar sentiment.

“We’re proud to collaborate with CU Build, helping our credit unions build a stronger financial future for their members. There’s power in bringing together individuals of varying skill sets to solve real-life challenges, then sharing their knowledge and solutions with our credit unions to better serve their members. CU Build allows us to scale these experiences while leveraging the power of our open platform.”

It seems a short weekend at CU Build has left a lasting impression on attendees, credit unions who take advantage of this solution, and their members.

Let the Games Begin

“We’re giving participants access to technology they’d never play with and people they'd never interact with. As cool as it is to develop awesome solutions, it’s even cooler to see what a difference it’s making for the participants,” shared Brad Hickey, Manager of Application Development at American Airlines Credit Union and co-creator of CU Build.  

  • Join the fun! Keep an eye on for open registration to attend the 2023 CU Build event in Dallas next summer.
  • Credit unions love to share. Any credit union on Jack Henry’s Symitar® core can request access to the GitHub repository of solutions by emailing and receive the entire solutions code base!

Credit unions can count on Jack Henry to advocate for positive change, co-create innovative solutions, and support open integrations with fintechs – who we see as changemakers.

Discover what you can achieve by utilizing our open banking approach.

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