STCU gives back to local communities with FAFSA assistance and grants to nonprofits

Spokane-based STCU marked the start of the new year with a number of initiatives aimed at supporting the communities it serves. To help ensure that local high school students maximize their future career options, the credit union is assisting families with completing FAFSA forms. And to honor its employees’ passion for community service, STCU is providing a record number of grants to nonprofit organizations where employees volunteer.

Completing FAFSA forms unlocks opportunities for scholarships, grants, work-study programs and other forms of assistance, but it has a reputation for complexity, and families can find it intimidating. To help raise FAFSA completion rates within STCU’s footprint, the credit union is offering after-hours FAFSA assistance from STCU employee volunteers. The evening events, held in January, February and March at STCU branch locations throughout Eastern Washington and North Idaho, are free and open to anyone with a student considering vocational training, apprenticeship programs or college after high school.

STCU is also recognizing the community engagement of its staff members by providing grants to the nonprofits that employees serve. The credit union gives every employee 16 hours of paid time off each year for volunteer activities, but many employees donate much more of their own time.

To pay tribute to these individuals, STCU invited all employees with at least 20 hours of service in 2023 to apply for a grant on behalf of the organization where they volunteer their time. In response to the record 12,000 hours of volunteerism reported, STCU is honoring a total of 124 employees with Volunteers Count grants for their organizations: 42 earned $100 grants (for at least 20 hours of service), 42 earned $250 grants (at least 40 hours), 28 earned $500 grants (at least 80 hours) and 12 earned $1,000 grants (based on the employee’s application demonstrating exceptional passion for the cause and the organization’s benefit to the community).

STCU employees reported donating time to 354 organizations across the Inland Northwest, including Idaho Panhandle Habitat for Humanity, Tri-Cities Hispanic Academic Achievers Program, Because There Is Hope, Priest River Animal Rescue, Ronald McDonald House of Charities of the Inland Northwest and the Pacific Northwest Division of the National Ski Patrol in Chewelah.

Among these organizations are at least 140 nonprofits where STCU employees serve in leadership positions on boards or committees. They include the Spokane Airport Board, Washington State University Board of Regents, United Way of Benton-Franklin Counties, the West Central Community Center, LaunchNW and the Coeur d’Alene Area Economic Development Corporation.

Ezra Eckhardt, STCU president and CEO, acknowledges that the true extent of staff volunteerism is likely even greater, as many individuals are reluctant to seek recognition for their efforts. “Our employees have a wide variety of backgrounds, interests and passions,” he said. “It never fails to amaze me to see how many different organizations they support.”

Posted in Top Headlines, Washington.