Oregon State Credit Union Finds Trust, Partnerships Key to Financial Education

Anissa Arthenayake, Director of Community Education at Oregon State Credit Union, works with Oregon inmates on budgeting and other financial education. The goal is to equip people coming out of prison with the skills they need to build successful lives. The class, said one inmate, “was very informative and interactive, with material that I can take home and reference when I need it.”

A certified credit union financial counselor, Anissa Arthenayake, has discovered the best way to provide financial education to those who need it most.

“Partnerships are critical,” says Arthenayake, Director of Community Education at Oregon State Credit Union.

Corvallis-based Oregon State Credit Union has developed partnerships across the community bringing its financial literacy materials, workshops, and games into local schools, nonprofit organizations, and even local prisons.

In 2013, Oregon State Credit Union provided financial education to 13,472 youths and adults. In 2014, the credit union projected outreach to more than 16,350, a 21% jump.

For almost six years, Oregon State Credit Union has partnered with Oregon State University’s Austin Entrepreneur Program and recently created an online class for the university that went live in September 2014.

Arthenayake has also worked closely with the Oregon Department of Corrections to bring much-needed information and skills to adults who have been in prison. Originally, the intent was to work with those who have been recently released. However experience showed it’s also effective to talk to inmates prior to their release about creating budgets, opening savings accounts, and managing debts.

Among its youth programs, Oregon State Credit Union provides materials and instruction for local school districts and the Corvallis Boys and Girls Club, which serves children from economically struggling households.

“The program with the club hinges on trust,” says Arthenayake. “The kids trust that we are safe people to speak with and that we are there for them. Once that trust is gained, the kids open up.”

Corvallis Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Helen Higgins credits Oregon State Credit Union for making a difference. “As a result of this program,” she says, “our teens have the skills and confidence to manage the complex world of money management—from credit cards to student loans in a responsible and informed way as they pursue their career goals.”

The credit unions of Oregon and Washington not only improve their members’ lives, they are foundational to the entire Northwest economy. Learn more here.

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