CU Showcase: Inspirus Credit Union Helps Homeless, Housing Insecure Students with School Supplies Giveback

Events in Tukwila and Spokane gave kids a “shopping” budget exercise – and a good start to the school year.

8/29/17

Thousands of Northwest school students will attend class this year without a permanent place to call home. They may spend Monday night at a grandparent’s home, and Tuesday on the sofa at the home of an aunt or a close friend. They’re among a sad statistic school districts struggle to solve: the increasingly high number of homeless and “housing insecure” children.

But thanks to many credit unions, they will have their own backpacks and supplies. Tukwila-based Inspirus Credit Union set a good example the week of August 21, opening its doors in Tukwila and Spokane to create a “shopping” experience for the kids and their parents.

“Your typical homeless student isn’t what you might think,” said Morgan Cole, Marketing and Public Relations Specialist. “The parents actually sometimes have multiple jobs and are working full time, and just due to certain circumstances are unable to secure housing. It does really feel good to give back to those families and their kids while they are in the transition time getting ready to go back to school.”

The Inspirus back-to-school stores offered hundreds of backpacks in various colors, rulers, pencils, paper, notebooks, and other supplies schools have asked students to bring to class this year.

For the kids, the shopping spree came with lessons in financial accountability and social responsibility.

“Being a credit union, we thought it was important to include a financial literacy aspect in our backpack event,” Cole explained. “When students arrived, we gave them $20 (in play money) to shop with. They came into the Inspirus store and picked out their backpacks and school supplies, and they had to budget. They checked out at our cash register, and with any leftover money, they could go back and buy more school supplies, and put them in our donation bins so they can feel like they’re giving back to a student in need also.”

The event captured the attention of local media. In an on-camera interview with Seattle’s KOMO-TV, Inspirus CEO/President Scott Adkins summed up the Credit Union Movement. “As not-for-profit, member-owned credit unions, this is what we do,” he said.