5/11/2021 Credit unions’ community impact may be the most important thing that differentiates them from other financial institutions. With their not-for-profit, cooperative structure, they…Read more »
The Northwest Credit Union Foundation Partners to Improve Financial Lives of Northwest Residents
The Northwest Credit Union Foundation continues to focus on new, innovative ways to help credit unions strengthen the financial lives of credit union members and their communities.
This important work wouldn’t be possible, however, without the generous, longstanding support of Northwest credit unions. In 2019, Northwest Credit Union Association members donated more than $500,000 to the Foundation, making priorities like the Community Impact Reporting Tool and workforce housing grants a reality.
“The Foundation is able to accomplish so much because of the generosity of Northwest credit unions,” said Sharee Adkins, the Foundation’s Executive Director. “It always has been in credit unions’ DNA to give back to their communities, and the incredible support and partnership we receive not only reflects that philosophy, but is making a tangible impact on the financial health of people and communities across our region.”
The Foundation’s work focuses on three pillars – Economic Development, Asset Building, and Cooperative Development. All of the initiatives in these pillars concentrate on credit union priorities. The Foundation also is led by a dedicated Board of Directors, who provide valuable input, guidance, and support.
In 2018, the Foundation began focusing on two new areas, including the Community Impact Reporting Tool and workforce housing grants. Donations fund a number of other important programs, such as Financial Reality Fairs and professional development scholarships.
By the Numbers – Donations in Action
Credit unions’ donations are going directly to initiatives that not only improve credit union awareness among consumers, but also strengthen the financial health of their members. Donations have enabled to Foundation to:
- Create the Community Impact Reporting Tool (CIRT), which is instrumental in advocating with lawmakers on both the state and federal levels. The customized online platform allows credit unions to track their contributions to the community and members, and that valuable information is used by the Northwest Credit Union Association to advocate on behalf of credit unions. Data collected includes volunteer hours, dollars invested in local community-based businesses and programs, financial education hours provided, loans to underserved populations, and charitable contributions.
- Award five workforce housing planning grants and three workforce housing project grants, totaling $410,000 in grant support. Credit unions are creating innovative solutions and building partnerships that are directly addressing housing affordability hurdles in their communities. The Foundation recently re-opened the grant opportunity. Credit unions should apply by Oct. 25. Those awarded will receive $20,000 in planning grants and up to $100,000 in project grants. The Foundation has committed a total of $500,000 in workforce housing grants for 2019.
- Host five regional Workforce Housing Forums, where credit unions and partners gathered to discuss housing hurdles in their communities, opening doors to new partnerships and collaboration.
- Provide financial education to more than 3,500 students in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, increasing their budgeting skills through Financial Reality Fairs funded by the Foundation and hosted by credit unions from across the region.
- Grow the future of the Credit Union Movement by providing professional development scholarships to 131 credit union employees in the first and second quarters of 2019, totaling $135,000. Scholarships assist credit union professionals who want to attend NWCUA Councils, MAXX, Emerging Leaders, and CUNA’s Western School of Management, and CUNA’s Governmental Affairs Conference.
In addition, the Foundation is actively working to secure grant support from outside the Credit Union Movement, which will be used to pilot and scale credit union-led community impact initiatives. Last year, the Foundation secured a grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust, now being employed to fund a security deposit loan pilot project withthree Portland-area credit unions.