news.cuna.org/articles/105806-nwcuf-to-help-pilot-mont-matched-college-savings-program-in-wash

NWCUF to help pilot Mont. matched college savings program in Wash.

May 6, 2015

SEATAC, Wash. (5/6/15)--The Montana Credit Unions for Community Development’s (MCUCD) college savings match program has proven so successful that the Northwest Credit Union Foundation (NWCUF) has decided to adopt it as well.

Denise Gabel, NWCUF executive director and chief operating officer for the Northwest Credit Union Association, and Karen Smith, MCUCD executive director, announced a partnership this week between the two league foundations that will allow Northwest credit unions to pilot the program (Anthem May 4).

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The Matched Education Savings Account (MESA) program was launched in 2005 to help members save for college tuition. Since the program’s inception, MESA has helped 183 participants save nearly $65,000 and earn an additional $234,598 in matched savings, which draw from donations by various foundations, schools and other organizations.

Half of Montana’s credit unions participate in the MESA program.

“Innovation can be accomplished by building from scratch or by importing a solution,” Gabel said. “MESA has a proven track record helping Montana families save for higher education. By importing this program into credit unions in Oregon and Washington, they can more quickly provide this value for their members.”

NWCUF’s pilot program will break ground in Spokane, Wash., and then expand to the rest of the Northwest later this year.

“MESA is all about what credit unions do--they see the value in offering matched savings to members,” Smith said. “Having launched the program 10 years ago, we’ve gone through the growing pains and fine-tuned MESA, so Northwest credit unions piloting the program will be able to hit the ground running.”