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Credit Unions Support Communities with Back-to-School Initiatives

With the credit union principle of Concern for the Community, it is only fitting that credit unions are helping with back-to-school initiatives. Here’s a highlight of how some Tennessee credit unions help welcome teachers and students to the 2023-2024 school year!

Leaders Credit Union

Leaders Credit Union in Jackson, Tenn., helps serve the surrounding eight counties and 23 school systems and colleges in West Tennessee in many back-to-school efforts.

“Since Leaders was founded by a group of educators, it is our mission to give back to those who formed what is now Leaders Credit Union,” said Shea Brown, director of community impact at Leaders Credit Union. “Educators give back every day and it is important to us to invest in and support them on their financial journey.”

“We enjoy serving teachers and administrators throughout West Tennessee at annual in-service events and bringing gifts to all,” said Brown. “We especially love coming full circle and presenting our annual donation of $10,000 to our founding membership group, the Jackson-Madison County School System. Our Community Engagement team also presented three sessions of ‘Transforming Your Financial Story’ to educators in Jackson-Madison County Schools and partnered with numerous other counties in West Tennessee as we support the teachers and educators who help students move forward.”

Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union

Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union in Rogersville, Tenn., participates in an array of district and teacher meetings and student-focused back-to-school events at area schools and East Tennessee State University. They even host a series of webinars to help ensure members understand student loans.

For many, attending school events has become a tradition. This year’s theme for the vendor fair at the Hawkins County School District General Meeting was ‘Students Having Opportunities for Excellence and Success (SHOES), Dancing Into the New School Year.’ The Appalachian Community FCU team incorporated this idea into their booth.

“For the past three years, we have hosted a photo booth as part of the vendor fair to go along with the theme,” Miranda Cooper, vice president of member experience, Appalachian Community Federal Credit Union. “This year we had a disco backdrop with disco and dance-related photo props. We take photos with an instant camera and then add a sticker with our web address. The teachers and staff get to keep their photo (polaroid). They love it! Some of my favorite visitors to our booth are a mother-and-son teaching duo who stop by every year for a photo together. Many told us that visiting our photo booth has become a tradition, and they place the photos in their classrooms. We gave away drawstring bags, and also donated a new instant camera as a door prize.”

Attending back-to-school events is a great way to be top-of-mind among community members.

“The excitement of the teachers before a new school is contagious,” said Cooper. “Then to hear them say, “Hey, you helped me with my car loan.” or “I opened my very first checking account when I was 16 at Appalachian.” is music to our ears! It’s one of our favorite events of the year. We are so thankful for the time, effort and resources they pour into shaping young minds. Their dedication and hard work does not go unnoticed. Our entire Appy Team has the utmost respect for all educators do for our students and our community. It is our honor to serve them!”

Scenic Community Credit Union

Scenic Community Credit Union in Chattanooga, Tenn., helps ensure children are ready to go back into the classroom by working with a local nonprofit, Northside Neighborhood House.

Northside Neighborhood House focuses on empowering residents north of the Tennessee River to create thriving communities across northern Hamilton County. From ensuring individuals are housed with working utilities to supporting students in achieving academic success, the nonprofit focuses on creating relationships and connecting individuals to supports that aid them in creating stability for themselves and their families.

“Scenic Community Credit Union donated funds for the Northside Neighborhood House Back to School Shop,” said Jourdan Reyes, marketing specialist at Scenic Community Credit Union. “Northside Neighborhood House hosts a back-to-school shop to help families with their school supplies that are in need. Helping students from Kindergarten through High School! NNH has people donate new items or donate so they can shop and the families come to the store to get the supplies for their students. The parents receive the items free but still have the opportunity to feel the joy of shopping for their children’s school supplies. We are excited to be part of such a great program!”

UT Federal Credit Union

UT Federal Credit Union in Knoxville, Tenn., is participating in several back-to-school events with area schools and the University of Tennessee.

“This year our internal Kindness Committee chose a teacher to “Sponsor” their classroom,” said Hanna Gomez, vice president of marketing at UT Federal Credit Union. “We sought nominations through our branches as well as social media. We ended up going with a 9th-grade special education math teacher from William Blount High School, and we will be spending $500 to fill her classroom with all her specific needs. We will also be spending some time volunteering in her classroom and teaching about financial literacy this school year!”

The credit union is also helping to educate college students about credit unions and that there is an on-campus branch by participating in events in the Student Union and at the Student Engagement Fair.

“The Student Engagement Fair is an event held on UTK’s pedestrian walkway, and is always one of the Center of Student Engagement’s biggest events,” said Gomez. “This event will host many vendors to come and be a resource for students to get more information, and also show them the different amenities UT as to offer.”

While we are not educators, these credit union efforts help build the cornerstone in our communities that is so pivotal to the sustained success of our credit unions, communities, our state and our nation—education.

“Education is the cornerstone of our communities and country.”
Bill Frist, US Senator, 1995-2007, Tennessee

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