Together with the late Senator Claiborne Pell, who died aged 90 in 2009 (a five term Senator as well as a Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour with four World War Two decorations), Senator Joe Biden, a six time re-elected Senator and two time Vice President of the USA, advocated “The Development Education (Biden-Pell) Project Grant” its purpose being “to greatly expand within the US credit union movement understanding and support for the ways in which the principles of credit unions have helped many others around the world to improve their lives, communities and nations” – Project Grant Progress Report 1982.
The inaugural grant from US AID to the Credit Union National Association Foundation (USA), now known as the National Credit Union Foundation, was part of legislation sponsored by Senators Biden and Pell, which allocated $1 million annually to be used by private voluntary organisations in the USA. Eighty eight programmes received funding over time but the Credit Union Development Education programme is the only survivor. It is now worldwide.
The original purpose for the grant “to be used by voluntary organisations in the US to fund programmes that educate the public about major development issues related to hunger and economic issues primarily in developing countries.” – NCUF Report 2012. This is still very relevant today. The Awards promoters count amongst its supporters an original graduate from the inaugural 1982 course - a proud CUDE and credit unionist.
Regardless of their political legacy, the Credit Union movement worldwide owes a lasting debt of gratitude to Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Claiborne Pell, two far sighted Americans.