Matched Education Savings Account (MESA) Program to Take Root in Northwest Credit Unions

A unique interstate partnership is brining this successful Matched Education Savings Account (MESA) program to Northwest credit unions.

Through a unique partnership between the Northwest Credit Union Foundation (NWCUF) and the Montana Credit Unions for Community Development (MCUCD), Northwest credit unions will soon be able to offer a successful matched college savings program to their members.

The partnership was announced by Denise Gabel, COO of the NWCUA /Executive Director of the Northwest Credit Union Foundation (NWCUF), and Karen Smith, Executive Director of MCUCD.

The Matched Education Savings Account (MESA) program was established in 2005 by MCUCD, the charitable arm of the Montana Credit Union Network. MESA has helped 183 participants save $64,857—and realize another $234,598 in matched savings.  Half of Montana’s credit unions offer MESA to students at five partner colleges. The matching funds are made possible by grants from various foundations, schools and organizations.

A webinar bringing credit unions and educational partners up to speed on the program will be held on Tuesday, May 19 at 9:00 a.m. Credit unions that are interested are encouraged to register for the webinar here, and to invite their contacts at local colleges and universities.

Bringing Successful Innovation to the Northwest

“Innovation can be accomplished by building from scratch or by importing a solution,” noted Gabel. “MESA has a proven track record helping Montana families save for higher education. By importing this program into credit unions in Oregon and Washington, they can more quickly provide this value for their members.”

“MESA is all about what credit unions do—they see the value in offering matched savings to members,” said Smith.  “Having launched the program 10 years ago, we’ve gone through the growing pains and fine-tuned MESA, so Northwest credit unions piloting the program will be able to hit the ground running. It’s really a great feeling to be able to pick up this successful program and take it to other states.”

The pilot program will begin in Spokane and expand to the rest of the Northwest beginning late summer of 2015.

Smith will provide operational oversight for MESA’s expansion into the Northwest, including grant support and school partnerships, while the NWCUF will a seed funding to make the MESA program a reality.

“MESA is going to be a win for Northwest families,” said Jamie Dedmon, NWCUF Managing Director. “It will help hardworking families with limited income to save for higher education at regional schools.”

Northwest credit unions set to pilot and the criteria for matched funds in the accounts are to be announced in the near future, according to Dedmon.

The concept of partnering with other credit union leagues is not new to the NWCUA, Gabel noted. In 2014, the NWCUA and the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) launched a partnership to share the resources of HRx, which provides human resources and talent recruitment solutions to member credit unions in both regions. In early 2015, the NWCUA licensed its website platform to LSCU, providing for rapid implementation of a contemporary and user-friendly website for LSCU’s members and business partners.

“If you are looking for the epicenter of innovation,” said Gabel, “you’ll find it in all that we do to collaborate to provide solutions for credit unions and the members that they serve.”

The concept of partnering with other credit union leagues is not new to the NWCUA, Gabel noted. In 2014, the NWCUA and the League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) launched a partnership to share the resources of HRx, which provides human resources and talent recruitment solutions to member credit unions in both regions. In early 2015, the NWCUA licensed its website platform to LSCU, providing for rapid implementation of a contemporary and user-friendly website for LSCU’s members and business partners.

Credit unions interested in participating in the MESA pilot program should contact Jamie Dedmon, Managing Director, NWCUF at jdedmon@nwcua.org or 206-340-4814.

Posted in NWCUA.