North Georgia Credit Union employees each received $100 to spend locally in support of the #CreditUnionsCareChallenge.

Foundations step up with assistance programs

Grants supported by generous donations.

April 22, 2020

Credit union foundations, with support from leagues and credit unions, are providing relief assistance throughout the states they serve as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic touches every corner of the nation.


Iowa Credit Union Foundation

The Iowa Credit Union Foundation (ICUF) launched a new Emergency Relief Fund to assist Iowans during the pandemic, which has caused a major disruption to the state’s economy, the income of many Iowans, and the health of small businesses across the state.

Under the leadership of Executive Director Jaimie Miller, the fund has raised more than $675,000 with donations still streaming in.

“Founded during the devastating floods of 1993, the Foundation is here to help again in this time of economic uncertainty,” says Miller. “This emergency fund was created with generous donations from credit unions, businesses, and individuals, enabling us to do more to help vulnerable Iowans and communities across the state.”

ICUF received more than 11,000 grant applications in 72 hours, 10% of which were from small businesses that may not qualify for other financial assistance, before closing the application process.


The Southeast Credit Union Foundation (SECUF) invited League of Southeastern Credit Unions (LSCU) credit unions in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama to join the #CreditUnionsCareChallenge. By doing so, credit unions commit at least $25 per employee, which the employee will use to carry out a good deed while supporting a local business of their choice.

To double the impact, SECUF will match every dollar contributed by member credit unions up to $25 per employee. The credit union will choose a local organization or charity to receive these matched funds as a donation.

SECUF’s contributions are made possible in part by industry donors, including CUNA Mutual Group and premier donor Corporate America Credit Union, which donated $100,000 to the effort.

“Credit unions are integral parts of their local communities,” says Patrick La Pine, LSCU CEO. “We’re excited to see what deeds employees carry out and local businesses they support. This effort lines up perfectly with the credit union motto of people helping people.”

SECUF began the initiative to answer the challenge put forth by First Commerce Credit Union, Tallahassee, Fla., in its ambitious #LocalStrong campaign. The credit union distributed more than $4,000 to local businesses through the initiative.

Carolinas Credit Union Foundation

The Carolinas Credit Union Foundation activated its Disaster Relief Aid Program to support credit union employees in the Carolinas with COVID-19 Relief Grants. In week one, the foundation disbursed nearly $12,000 in grants, and it expects to process more than 100 grants during the second week, says President Lauren Whaley. The foundation has roughly $400,000 available to disburse due to contributions from member credit unions.

Grants are available to credit union employees experiencing significant financial hardships due to loss of household income related to the pandemic, she says. “We are offering grants up to $1,000 to help credit union employees pay for essential living expenses such as rent or mortgage, utilities, and food.”

In partnership with the Carolinas Credit Union League, the foundation also provided a grant to cover the expense of two webinars for credit unions with less than $100 million in assets.

“We recognize that all organizations are watching expenses and making tough decisions,” says Dan Schline, Carolinas League president. “Hopefully this will help, at least a little, as you continue to give your team members the education and training opportunities they need to be successful.”


The Credit Union Foundation of Maryland and the District of Columbia has established the COVID-19 Response Fund to help member credit unions provide support for those affected by the pandemic.

“Credit unions now have another promising tool available to help relieve the financial stress many members are experiencing during the COVID-19 crisis,” says John Bratsakis, president/CEO. “In the spirit of our people helping people philosophy, the Foundation's Emergency Response Fund provides an opportunity for donors to directly support their community and offer relief to those struggling financially.”

Efforts are underway to encourage charitable support for the fund. Donations will allow the grant phase to proceed.

Mountain West Credit Union Foundation

The board of directors of the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation recently made $250,000 available to assist affected communities in the three states it serves. The funds will provide relief for food insecurity, community stabilization, and mental health services.

“On behalf of credit unions in Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming, the board of directors at the Mountain West Credit Union Foundation stands ready to assist our communities in this time of need,” says Dr. Dan Santangelo, executive director. “We’re working to ensure a better way back for many of those suffering as a result of this pandemic.”

Foundation Chair Todd Pearson has appointed three statewide committees to direct and deliver these funds to community organizations in the three states.

Heartland Credit Union Charitable Foundation

The Heartland Credit Union Charitable Foundation (HCUCF) is supporting credit unions through financial wellness and community development grants for member credit unions.

“In the midst of uncertainty, our credit unions are rolling up their sleeves and responding to the critical and emergent needs of communities in Kansas and Missouri,” says Andrea Robinson, executive director. “They are tackling very difficult challenges with the certainty that our industry will persevere and credit unions will serve people during every season.”

HCUCF has received several requests for financial wellness grants, including one that would help unbanked consumers by fighting predatory lending ahead of government stimulus payments. Another grant might be used to provide financial education to at-risk members.

Through HCUCF’s community development grants, credit unions are asking for support for local organizations, including helping school districts provide free lunches, funding healthcare workers and first responders, and providing emergency funding to members.

The Foundation invests in and through credit unions to enhance their ability to serve their members and their community, and is currently evaluating what additional relief efforts might arise as the pandemic evolves.

Illinois Credit Union Foundation

The Illinois Credit Union (ICU) Foundation has allocated $160,000 in funds for its new COVID-19 grants.

It's offering grants up to $2,000 to help small credit unions (up to $100 million in assets) offset unexpected COVID-related expenses. The focus for the grants is to help credit unions create and maintain a safe and healthy office environment, and the goal is to ensure the health and safety of credit union staff and members.

The ICU Foundation is also sponsoring CUNA’s Financial Counseling Certification Program to enable credit unions to train staff as financial counselors. This includes  offering an accelerated program to enable participants to earn their credentials by the end of July and conducting train-the-trainer sessions so credit union staff can teach financial literacy using remote or online tools, such as reality fairs for teens.

Northwest Credit Union Foundation

The Northwest Credit Union Foundation is partnering with Philanthropy Northwest to run a fast, zero-interest emergency loan program that will reach low-income and undocumented workers across the Northwest. 

National Credit Union Foundation

The National Credit Union Foundation continued its new "Together Tuesday" video series this week. Hear what inspires Maurice Smith, CEO of Local Government FCU & Civic Federal Credit Union in Raleigh, N.C.

These are just a few examples of how state foundations are supporting communities and helping people through the crisis. There are 23 state foundations and the National Credit Union Foundation, all of which have programs and resources making a positive difference in our communities.