News and Notes: Here’s What’s Happening in Northwest Credit Unions

ACU helps erase Tacoma’s school lunch debt; Unitus Community Credit Union leaders mentor 2017 Rose Festival Court.

America’s Credit Union Funds Drive to Erase Tacoma’s School Lunch Debt

When America’s Credit Union (ACU) President and CEO Ken Leonard heard about local parent Jeff Lew’s GoFundMe campaign to erase Tacoma’s school lunch debt, the credit union stepped up to help.

According to a 2015-16 report by Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction for Washington State, 60.6 percent of Tacoma School District students are on free or reduced-price meals. If a child is unable to pay for their meal, families receive an invoice from the school district to pay the debt.

As of May 17, 2017, the total school lunch debt for Tacoma School District stood at a staggering $20,841. Jeff Lew—a local parent who wanted to make sure no student would feel singled out due to meal debt—created a GoFundMe campaign to address the problem. The campaign quickly gathered enough donations to pay the outstanding debt, but Lew didn’t stop there. Knowing many families would likely be in the same position this upcoming school year, he wanted to ensure there was extra funding to cover any future debt.

On June 8, 2017, Jeff Lew visited ACU’s DuPont office to share his efforts to erase the lunch debit of the school districts in Tacoma and the surrounding areas. Inspired by his willingness to support the local community, ACU donated $7,735 to the campaign, helping Lew reach his $30,000 goal.

Unitus Community Credit Union Leaders Mentor 2017 Rose Festival Court

Unitus Community Credit Union just wrapped up its third year as title sponsor of the Rose Festival Court Program. Representing Portland metro-area high schools, the Rose Festival Court is comprised of 15 young women elected by members of the community and fellow students. These women are selected for their impressive involvement in extracurricular activities, their academic achievements, and volunteerism.

One of the most unique opportunities associated with Unitus’ sponsorship is the mentor program. Strong business women in the Portland area are paired with each Rose Festival Court Princess to share career advice, guidance, and leadership.

Fifteen Unitus female executives partnered with the Court for their annual visit to the OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. These mentors also engaged in a financial workshop facilitated by Natalie Cook, business development officer at Unitus, to prepare the high school girls for their collegiate futures. During the workshop, the Court learned the difference between a credit score and credit report, revolving loans and installment loans, and how to minimize debt. The workshop also helped the young women understand the credit union difference.

“We see a lot of people come in with no credit history, just like you guys,” said Heather Lane, Member Services Senior Analyst at Unitus. “The good thing is, you can come to a credit union and we treat you like an individual. We look at your circumstances, we understand, and we care.”