A centenarian at the service of young people - Desjardins celebrates the 100th anniversary of the school caisse



    LEVIS, QC, Oct. 17 /CNW Telbec/ - Millions of Québec citizens took their
first steps into the world of savings thanks to the Desjardins school caisse.
A hundred years later, this centenarian is well alive and continues its
educational mission with young students.
    Today, school caisses are present in over 1,000 elementary schools in
Québec, a hundred or so in Ontario and almost 80 in New Brunswick, and have
approximately 120,000 young members whose cumulative assets are worth over
$20 M. Backed by about 400 Desjardins caisses, the school caisse operates upon
the same cooperative values that are dear to the financial institution.
    It was in 1907 that Alphonse Desjardins started the first school caisse.
He was convinced that if youngsters were introduced to saving habits at an
early age, in the future they would be better prepared to face the problems
encountered by his own peers in dealing with the usurers of the day. That is
why the Desjardins Group founder did not hesitate in setting up this
educational tool which rapidly proved to be a true success. Two years later,
the Québec government even went on to modify the Education Act in order to
officially allow the implementation of school caisses in Québec schools.
    Today, the school caisse is still strong. It is suited for the needs of
elementary school students and is an integral part of Desjardins Group's
educational mission. "The school caisse is still fundamental to our
educational mission, especially to our cooperative difference. Besides
initiating students to the advantages of saving and the basic principles of
budget management, it contributes to developing long-term financial autonomy
in our youth," stated Alban D'Amours, President and Chief Executive Officer of
Desjardins Group.
    Through the years, the school caisse has been able to adapt and
rejuvenate itself. For example, during the past few years, more and more
school caisses have been paying "youth dividends" to their members. These
patronage dividends aim at recognizing the saving efforts of young students
and their commitment and discipline in this field, regardless of the amount of
money saved.
    "The Desjardins school caisse is undoubtedly one of the greatest examples
of cooperative commitment. Its success deserves to be showcased during this
year's Cooperation Week," concluded Mr. D'Amours.

    About Desjardins Group

    Desjardins Group is the largest integrated cooperative financial group in
Canada, with overall assets of more than $143 billion, as of June 30, 2007. It
comprises a network of caisses, credit unions and business centres in Québec
and Ontario, and some twenty subsidiary companies in life and general
insurance, securities brokerage, venture capital and asset management, many of
which are active across the country. Drawing on the expertise of its
40,000 employees and the commitment of nearly 6,800 elected officers,
Desjardins offers its 5.8 million individual and corporate members and clients
a full range of financial products and services. Its physical distribution
network is complemented by leading-edge virtual access methods. To find out
more, consult www.desjardins.com.

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For further information:

For further information: for journalists only: Nathalie Genest, Advisor,
Information and Media Relations, (514) 281-7275, 1-866-866-7000, ext. 7275,
nathalie.genest@desjardins.com


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