8 GoWest Credit Unions Win 2023 CUNA Awards
Posted by Andrew Kobialka on September 5, 2023
“People Helping People” is the philosophy that unites the Credit Union Movement.
Through the years, countless members across the country have personally been affected by the unique not-for-profit cooperatives as they partner with communities to fill local needs through donations, charitable events, volunteering, and of course, life-empowering financial services.
The annual CUNA Awards reflect and celebrate the astounding accomplishments of credit unions in the areas of member service, community impact, and financial education.
GoWest is honored to shine a light on this year’s state-level CUNA Awards winners from across the GoWest region and their incredible achievements.
“Credit unions listen to their communities, bringing timely and relevant opportunities to their members – it’s an honor to partner alongside them,” said Christine Ruzzi, GoWest’s VP of Member Impact. “Congratulations to this year’s winners!”
Desjardins Adult and Youth Financial Education Awards
This award honors leadership within the Credit Union Movement on behalf of youth and adult financial literacy.
- Canopy Credit Union, Spokane, Washington ($50-$250 million in assets category) — In 2022, Canopy tuned into the needs of those in its community without easy access to financial education. Canopy provided 201 financial coaching sessions available to all members the community. They also conducted 86 financial education workshops in partnerships with schools and nonprofits – offering translations in multiple languages – and hosted monthly workshops to serve students going through the Spokane County Juvenile Court.
Dora Maxwell Social Responsibility Community Service Awards
These awards honor credit unions for community impact programs.
- Colorado Credit Union, of Littleton, Colorado ($250 million-$1 billion in assets category) — In partnership with Hands of the Carpenter, a Denver-area nonprofit, Colorado Credit Union focused on helping single moms without reliable transportation and who do not meet the traditional requirements for reasonable financing options. The development of an internal program specifically for these women bypassed typical credit parameters and capped interest rates enabling affordable monthly payments. Since January 2022, it has resulted in 8 loans and the credit union plans to expand this program to more women moving forward.
- Frontier Credit Union, Idaho Falls, Idaho ($250 million-$1 billion in assets category) — After 36 years of commitment to providing reliable footwear to children in need, Frontier Credit Union has expanded its ability to serve its community by establishing a 501(c)3. The new designation allows it to meet a wider range of needs for the children of Idaho. Last year, Frontier raised over $49,000 through its charitable foundation golf tournament, lemonade stands for Idaho Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, and its Coins for Christmas fundraiser! More than ever, Frontier is reaching more children in need, providing them with essential items and shoes that enhance their quality of life.
- Unitus Community Credit Union, Portland, Oregon (more than $1 billion in assets category) – Today, 1 in 5 people face hunger in rural, urban, and suburban communities throughout Oregon. So when AWARE’s local food bank facility was destroyed due to arson, Unitus took action. An initial donation of $52,000 helped fund the rebuilding of the food bank and the hiring of a Farmworker Program Coordinator. During 2022, the coordinator increased its mobile pantry outreach from 4 to 7 locations and distributions from once a week to twice a week. Furthermore, AWARE provided more than 2,500 food boxes to individuals living in farmworker housing communities, and the new food bank facility is expected to open later this year.
- Hughes Federal Credit Union, Tucson, Arizona (more than $1 billion in assets category) – Commemorating its 70th anniversary with 70 Acts of Kindness, the campaign focused on giving back to the people and organizations that make Southern Arizona a better place to live. Acts ranged from the creation of a new sensory program to volunteering to help build homes for Habitat for Humanity to giving gift cards to teachers. The campaign also had a financial literacy component – teaching and empowering community members of all ages. Hughes exceeded its goal of 70 Acts of Kindness by performing a total of 104 Acts of Kindness and donating over $150,000.
- BECU, Tukwila, Washington (more than $1 billion in assets category) – 1,400 BECU employees make up 10 Employee Resource Groups where employees who have common interests or issues, come together to support each other, build community, share concerns, and identify solutions to further the mission, vision, and values of BECU. Additionally, each ERG must partner with three to five local nonprofits. In 2022, ERGs had 837 recorded volunteer hours and over 70 ERG community events with non-profits.
- Westerra Credit Union, Denver, Colorado (more than $1 billion in assets category) –Westerra Cares, the credit union’s community-focused initiative, offers a comprehensive approach to supporting education, financial literacy, and basic needs, including mental health. Its key milestones include over $660,000 contributed to support education, disaster relief, community support, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives; 79% of the workforce involved in community service in 2022, amounting to 249 unique employees participating in volunteer activities and 1,232 volunteer hours donated through the Volunteer Time Off program and over $956,000 saved by members through the permanent waiving of overdraft fees.
Louise Herring Philosophy-in-Action Member Service Awards
The Louise Herring Award recognizes credit union efforts to improve members’ lives through outreach programs.
- Unitus Community Credit Union, Portland, Oregon (more than $1 billion in assets category) –Unitus is committed to inclusive financial practices and has taken steps to remove barriers to provide access and opportunity to individuals who have been historically underserved by the financial industry. By earning the Juntos Avanzamos designation from Inclusiv, Unitus has proven to be diligently serving and empowering Hispanic and immigrant consumers – evident by its nearly 32% increase in Hispanic membership. The credit union has additionally served the Hispanic community by:
- 193 ITIN loans with $12 million in funding
- 51 Spanish-speaking employees
- 21 financial education classes in Spanish, reaching 193 students
- 30% of annual giving funds, amounting to over $74,000, were dedicated to communities of color
Congratulations to all GoWest member credit unions on these well-deserved CUNA Awards! We look forward to celebrating even more of credit unions’ achievements at the GoWest Awards Dinner & Gala, Oct. 5, in Spokane, Washington, during MAXX 2023.
Register to attend here!
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