CUs' card programs make the grade for schools

September 30, 2014

MADISON, Wis. (10/1/14)--Credit unions support schools in many ways, such as providing financial literacy programs or in-school branches, but some use their card rewards programs to provide direct monetary benefits.

Redwood CU, a $2.38 billion-asset credit union in Santa Rosa, Calif., announced Monday that it will make a donation to SchoolsRule Marin for each credit or debit card transaction made by the credit union's Marin County members.

SchoolsRule funds literacy, technology and arts programs in the Marin County public school system. "SchoolsRule has a powerful reach in Marin County; every student benefits from the resources it provides," said Redwood CU President/CEO Brett Martinez. "This program is a great opportunity to further our support of education in partnership with our Marin County members--they can spend money all over the world, and these donations still come home."

Martinez estimates that the credit union's contributions will exceed $25,000 by the end of the first year of the partnership. Through the program, members will play a direct role to help programs that have been jeopardized by state budget cuts.

Each quarter in Odessa, Texas, Southwest 66 CU presents donations that have accumulated from the $85 million-asset credit union's affinity card program. Most recently, it donated $600 to Odessa High School (Permian Basin Sept. 29). Each time a debit card with the Odessa High School Bronchos logo is swiped, the credit union sets aside money to be donated.

As part of its commitment to the community, the credit union offers these special debit cards that in turn support worthy organizations, according to President/CEO Sean Cahill.

The Spirit Cards from Texas Trust CU, Mansfield, Texas, with $846 million in assets, benefit high schools in six school districts. Members' use of the mascot-emblazoned cards--some designed by students--has resulted in more than $611,000 for local schools, according to the credit union's latest tally.

Up to 10 cents per signature-debit transaction can end up benefiting a school through the Extra Credit program at MIDFLORIDA CU, Lakeland, Fla. Elementary, middle and high schools within the $2 billion-asset credit union's service area are eligible, and the school administration must agree to the program. Funds accrue daily and are paid annually in early December.

As the school year kicked off, MIDFLORIDA encouraged members to promote the program by having a credit union representative explain the Extra Credit program at a school-related meeting or sending informational flyers home with students. "The more people who participate in the Extra Credit program, the more your school will earn," it noted.