Northwest Credit Unions Champion Education Across the Region

OnPoint Community Credit Union names 2017 Educators of the Year; Inspirus Credit Union boosts graduation rates for nontraditional students at Green River College and supports marine-research program for local high school students.

Two Northwest credit unions recently put their inspiring missions to give back to education into action with generous awards programs. Read on to see how OnPoint Community Credit Union and Inspirus Credit Union are empowering tomorrow’s innovators.

OnPoint Community Credit Union Names 2017 Educators of the Year

OnPoint Community Credit Union recently announced the recipients of the annual OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education, which recognizes exceptional teachers throughout Oregon and southwest Washington for their ability to encourage creativity, inspire enthusiasm for learning, and positively impact their students. Since 2010, nearly 1,000 teachers have been nominated by their peers, students, and parents. At the conclusion of its eighth year, OnPoint has honored over 60 teachers with more than $200,000 in prizes.

“As a credit union founded by teachers nearly 85 years ago, OnPoint has always understood that inspiring educators make a tremendous difference in the lives of students and in the communities where we live,” said OnPoint Community Credit Union’s President and CEO, Rob Stuart. “The OnPoint Prize for Excellence in Education is our opportunity to recognize the creativity and dedication of teachers who impact in our lives.”

This top Educator of the Year prize is awarded to one K-8 teacher and one 9-12 grade teacher. It pays each teacher’s mortgage for one school year and awards $2,500 to their schools for resources and supplies.

James Nosen—an art teacher at Baker Prairie Middle School in Canby, Oregon—was named K–8 Educator of the Year. Nosen stood out for his ability to engage students, encouraging school-wide participation in the arts and facilitating a visit from Arun Gandhi for the dedication of the student-created portrait of Gandhi’s grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi. Over 25 years, Nosen took more than 1,000 students and family members on trips to 36 different countries, raising funds to make travel available to any child who wanted to attend.

David Valenzuela—a biomedical sciences teacher from Madison High School in Portland, Oregon—was named 9–12 Educator of the Year. Valenzuela has impacted his school community through his work as Chair of the Madison High School Science Department, as well as an advisor to the Hispanic Club, American Red Cross Club, and Health Occupation Students of America. Under his direction, Madison has won grants and forged research facility partnerships, offering students hands-on experience as part of their coursework.


James Nosen

David Valenzuela

The credit union also awarded the following 2017 finalists with $2,500, and will award their schools $1,000 for resources and supplies. Amy Pederson, a kindergarten teacher at Mount Scott Elementary School in Happy Valley, Oregon, was the K-8 Finalist. Ines Kuna, an English teach at Vancouver iTech Preparatory in Vancouver, Washington, was the 9-12 finalist.

In addition to the Educator of the Year Award, OnPoint also honored four schools with the Community Builder Award. The $1,000 award provides funding for schools to complete a project that is enriching to the school, students and faculty. The 2017 Community Choice Award recipients included:

  • Clear Creek Middle School, Gresham, Oregon – STEAM Project
  • McMinnville High School, McMinnville, Oregon – Latino Resource Fair
  • Prescott Elementary School, Portland, Oregon – Library Materials
  • Roosevelt High School, Portland, Oregon – Back to School Fair

Inspirus Credit Union Helps Boost Graduation Rates for Nontraditional Students at Green River College, and Also Supports Marine-Research ORCA Program for Local High School Students

Inspirus Credit Union continues to showcase its education mission through its passionate support of local education programs.

Auburn, Washington-based Green River College’s mantra and embrace of nontraditional students in its IT programs is one of the reasons Inspirus Credit Union recently pledged $20,000 over three years to the school’s Completion Fund, which helps students close to graduation overcome hurdles to getting their diplomas.

“It’s our mission to give back to education,” said Inspirus Vice President of Marketing Sherry Lotze, “and Green River’s exceptional work in helping women, in particular, break barriers in IT is a model for the nation.”

One-third of Green River’s IT students are women, and the program is looking to increase that number to one-half by 2020. Inspirus’s Community Wall in Tukwila features stories of women at Green River overcoming adversity through its IT program, and is open to the public for viewing.

The credit union’s mission to give back to education also recently helped students at Lynwood, Washington-based Everett Community College receive a one-of-a-kind experience in STEM education through the college’s ORCA Program (Ocean Research College Academy).

This tuition-free early college academy takes the concept of Running Start for high school juniors and seniors and pairs it with an immersive program in which all core subjects—from English to math to humanities—are taught in a small learning community centered on marine research in the Puget Sound.

Inspirus Credit Union donated $2,345 to support materials and supplies the ORCA program uses each year. “ORCA exemplifies the kind of innovation that truly inspires the scientists, educators, and problem-solvers of tomorrow,” said Inspirus Vice President of Marketing Sherry Lotze. “We honored to shine a spotlight on this one-of-a-kind program that’s a model for the nation.”