First Tech Federal Credit Union Awards $1.1 Million to Education Nonprofits Helping Underserved Youth Better Access Technology


First Tech Federal Credit Union employees (L-R) Alec Holmes, Allison Chen, Lexie Ivanovic, and Claudia Elvir, volunteered March 5 during National Reading Month at the Children’s Book Bank in Portland.

First Tech Federal Credit Union has made it a priority to help children in underserved communities gain better access to educational opportunities, with a focus on science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM). Recently the credit union dedicated $1.1 million in grants to over 60 nonprofit organizations in California, Oregon, and Washington to do just that.

It is First Tech Federal’s mission to support the next generation of leaders, thinkers, and innovators by offering more funding to communities that are in need of access to current technology. The credit union’s grants were given to organizations that are helping to create an inclusive community where children have the tools they need to learn and succeed.

The dedicated $1.1 million in funding is the cornerstone of First Tech’s ongoing philanthropic work within local communities—and especially its mission to build strong relationships with organizations heeding the same mission.

Whether doing online research for homework, looking for a job, or applying to college, youth at risk of digital illiteracy are significantly challenged in a world that has become more and more reliant on the web and technology.

First Tech Federal is actively working to bridge the ‘Digital Divide’—a term that refers to the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology, and those that don’t or have restricted access. This technology can include computers, phones, and the internet.

This year’s funding was directed to organizations like Oregon-based Free Geek, whose mission it is to sustainably reuse technology, enable digital access, and provide education to empower people so they may reach their goals. When First Tech Federal learned more about Free Geek and a shared commitment to technology access for schools and the underserved community, the company signed on to pledge $44,000 ​to support Plug into Portland. The program provides technology and training to K-12 students in the Portland metro area with a goal of increasing academic achievement.

The grant enables Free Geek to better bridge the growing technology gap and provide young learners access to the tools they need build a more diverse pipeline of STEM problem-solvers and professionals.

“First Tech supports us at all levels of our mission,” said Sara Rasmussen, digital inclusion manager with Free Geek. “Technology access is fundamental to academic success and, later on, economic opportunity, for all kids. By providing this support to young people, we’re opening a door. First Tech has made it possible for us to grow and improve the Plug into Portland program and allow us to develop innovative solutions for helping even more kids.”

Since 2000, Free Geek, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has been recycling and refurbishing technology to provide computers, education, and job skills to volunteers, schools, and non-profits.  

“As the credit union for the world’s leading technology companies, we’re committed to supporting the next generation of leaders, thinkers, and innovators through improved access to education,” said Nicole Frisch, community engagement director at First Tech. “We’re thrilled to support these exceptional organizations as they strive to create long-lasting change. Together, we’re building stronger communities that can thrive for generations to come.​”

Other First Tech Federal Grants Recently Awarded

The credit union has been actively engaged in assisting other organizations throughout Oregon and beyond. Some of the other recent grants awarded include:

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI): ​$75,000​ to support OMSI’s strategic accessibility and equity initiatives, providing more opportunities to reach and better serve the diverse community.

Silicon Valley Education Foundation, ​California and Oregon: ​$74,000​ to support Elevate [Math], a tuition-free program that provides math intervention for middle school students to help them reach grade-level proficiency.

Beaverton Education Foundation,​ Oregon: ​$70,000 ​to support the BSD Future Bus and STEAM 4 All, a program that supports and encourages all students to explore academic experiences in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics.

Girls Inc. of the Pacific Northwest, Oregon:​ $44,500 ​to support Eureka!, a STEM-based approach to engaging and empowering 8thto 12th– grade girls to build confidence in STEM-related fields.

Junior Achievement of Washington​: ​$35,000​ to support ​JA BizTown®, a program that provides students with the opportunity to apply in-school financial education to real life scenarios.

In 2018, First Tech provided​ ​$3.28 million in charitable giving and more than 30,000 employee volunteer hours to the community; directing dollars and time to nonprofit partners who provide programs and services to children and families in need.

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