The Credit Union Difference in our Communities – 2023


August 25, 2023 — When the small school district of Canyon Creek found itself needing to cut field trips and extra-curriculars from its operating budget, Valley Credit Union stepped up. With a donation of $22,000, the credit union has helped the school district reestablish these important activities for the 2023-2024 school year.

Senior Vice President of Community Engagement Brandon Scala said the donation is part of Valley Credit Union’s dedication to education and community enrichment. “Kids are our future right, not just from a business standpoint, but from a human standpoint they are our future and we want to make sure that we can do whatever is in our power to make it good for them.”

August 18, 2023 — Thanks to a $560,000 CDFI grant it received, Ravalli County Credit Union announced that it has created an initiative focused on supporting rural women and children in the county. The initiative, called Empower Ravalli Women (ERW), will “help women of lesser means who might not be creditworthy with capital loans,” explained Darci Parsons, credit union president and CEO. The credit union plans to use the grant to extend access to financial inclusion products and services as a first step to building long-term sustainability.

This award will allow the credit union to “assist even more of our financially struggling community members, especially female heads of household and those seeking to break free from unsafe situations,” says Darci. “We’re proud to provide accounts and affordable loans to those who have otherwise had to resort to predatory lenders, pawn shops, and check cashers.”

August 11, 2023 —Billings Federal Credit Union is seeking donations to assist with United Way of Yellowstone County’s annual Operation School Supply. This drive benefits kids in Billings and Laurel by distributing needed school supplies and hygiene products throughout the school year.

Last year, the credit union collected over 300 items for United Way to distribute to local schools. The drive highlights the need for simple things we take for granted — notebooks, pencils, deodorant, toothpaste, and other necessities that help set school-age children up for success.

August 4, 2023 — Beginning Monday, Family First Federal Credit Union will be collecting non-perishable food for the Great Falls Community Food Bank’s 15th Annual Great Falls Community Food “Bank” Challenge. Banks and credit unions around town are on a mission to collect as much non-perishable food as possible for Great Falls and its surrounding communities. Who doesn’t love a little friendly competition between financial institutions? Donations will be accepted until August 25.

July 28, 2023 — Daniels-Sheridan Federal Credit Union is a big supporter of local fairs, especially in Daniels and Sheridan counties. At the fair in Scobey, the credit union sponsored 4-H awards and the Ranch Rodeo, organized Co-op Day with Nemont where and served free ice cream sundaes, and purchased beef at the 4-H Livestock Sale.They also had a lot of employees volunteering — many of them are local 4-H alumni! Rex Gaustad and Tim Rask serve as co-treasurers of the Daniels County Fair Association, while Cheryl Booth serves as chairperson of the Fair Board. Several employees volunteered by taking tickets, watching event gates, and putting together parade floats.

July 21, 2023 — Intrepid Credit Union recently worked with ExplorationWorks to install a beautiful Montana-themed mural made out of upcycled Legos. Located in Helena, ExplorationWorks encourages youth to explore science, technology, engineering, art, and math through interactive, fun exhibits.

To ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy this interactive new exhibit, Intrepid CU will be covering all admission costs on Saturday, July 29, in recognition of #ilovemycreditunion!

July 14, 2023 — First of all, a heartfelt welcome to our newest member, Black Hills Federal Credit Union! They celebrated their new branch opening in Billings in true #CUDifference style by giving back to the tune of $5,500. Members and area residents were encouraged to visit the new location to enter to win $500 cash plus the opportunity to select a local nonprofit organization to receive a $5,000 donation.

The lucky $500 winner selected the Scottish Rite Language Clinic to receive the $5,000 donation. The clinic partners with speech therapists in Billings to provide services to kids who struggle with speaking.

June 30, 2023 — Earlier this week, Billings Federal Credit Union participated in United Way of Yellowstone County’s Day of Action. Nine of their staff volunteered to spread gravel and repair a building at Dover Park in the Billings Heights area.

June 23, 2023 — Every summer, the Laurel Public School Librarians partner with the public library to bring stories, activities, and lunch to their community kiddos. Families spread out on the library lawn each Wednesday and listen to a spotlight reader. Kids then play games, read independently, eat a free meal, and take home a book of their choice. Altana Federal Credit Union joins the fun by bringing their V.W. bus with free ice cream and popsicles to the community where it all began for them! Ice cream and books? We’ll be right there!

June 16, 2023 — Whitefish Credit Union is unveiling “Member Stories” — an engaging new eight-part online documentary series highlighting some of Montana’s incredible businesses, non-profits, and credit union members who are shaping and changing Montana for the better. “These stories are about how our members invest in our communities, making them stronger, more vibrant, and more for every Montanan,” says CEO Jim Kenyon. “We’re proud to share their stories.”

These member stories aren’t just about promoting Whitefish Credit Union; they’re about recognizing how our communities are built and strengthened through the commitment and passion of those who live here. And that serves as an inspiration for others to pursue their dreams.

June 9, 2023 — Rocky Mountain Credit Union is in its second year of a partnership with Cancer Support Community of Montana (CSC). Through this partnership, RMCU provides financial resources to CSC, offers volunteer time to help with CSC events and fundraising efforts, and provides support to individuals impacted by cancer.

RMCU CEO Steve Sendon serves on the CSC board and said of the partnership, “We all know someone who has been impacted by cancer. No one knows about the services CSC provides until they need them. I want to help them spread the word so folks know they exist.”

June 2, 2023 —Valley Credit Union is wrapping up their second year partnering with the Billings Gazette on the Valleytorian program. Eligible students are nominated by a principal, teacher, or counselor, and 16 of them have been featured in the Billings Gazette this spring. At the end of the school year, one student was selected to win a $5,000 grant. Valley CU started this grant program to help graduating seniors who were not typically eligible for the scholarships and financial aid awarded to those attending a 4-year program. Instead, they selected students with a clear career path for their future after high school, like through industry certification, technical associate’s degree, city college, trade school, or apprenticeship.

The winner, Owen Tounsley out of Billings West, plans on applying the $5,000 towards tools and equipment for his job and to help pay for his apprenticeship courses to become an electrician.

May 26, 2023— On May 9, participants from Ravalli County Credit Union, Montana Educators’ Credit Union, and Clearwater Credit Union volunteered at SAFE. They weeded, cleaned out flower beds, pruned trees/bushes, raked, painted, moved furniture, and cleaned out a storage closet. Two volunteers also had the privilege of delivering a paddle board and park passes purchased by the chapter to the Linda Massa Youth Home in Hamilton so residents can enjoy time on the lake this summer. The Hellgate Chapter also had volunteers at the Show Up for Shelter honoring Watson Children’s Shelter’s fundraising event in Missoula May 19 and 20

May 12, 2023 — Park Side Credit Union recently planned and hosted The Ascent 2023 5K, where over 50 runners/hikers climbed almost 1,000 feet up to an overlook — hence “The Ascent” title. This event benefited the following local youth services and nonprofits that benefit at-risk teens:

A few of the students spoke before the race about what the Ascent Program means to them and how it has changed their lives. Park Side hopes this will be an annual event that may include an adult track meet next year!

Besides the runners/hikers, The Ascent had 20+ volunteers, including the local Rapid Relief Team (RRT) chapter who provided a FREE grilled lunch for everyone.

April 28, 2023 — Russell Country Federal Credit Union is gearing up for its 8th annual “Jersey Off Your Back” event on July 15. Each year, the credit union chooses a local nonprofit to be the benefactor of proceeds raised at a silent auction held at a Great Falls Voyagers baseball game. These one-of-a-kind jerseys are created with the nonprofit in mind and are worn during the game, and the winning bidders get the autographed “Jersey Off the Back” of the player. As of last year, over $35,000 has been raised for local nonprofits through this event.

April 28, 2023 — Rocky Mountain Credit Union has completed their second Reality Fair in two weeks. Last week, they worked with student’s at Helena’s Project for Alternative Learning School (pictured right). The second fair was held Wednesday at the Jobs for Montana Graduates conference in Helena. Reality Fairs provide hands-on opportunities for students to experience “adulting” firsthand through career-selection and benefits to car loans and unforeseen expenses. Each fair concludes with “retirement” and a discussion on what students learned and what adjustments they plan on making to have savings left at the end of each month. The most common response for reality checks? “Kids are expensive!” Yes, kids, yes you are.

April 21, 2023 — The Hive youth business pitch event, organized by Valley Credit Union, was a resounding success again this year. This event supports high school students with entrepreneurial aspirations, and this year’s event featured eight high school entrepreneurs pitching their business plans to a panel of local businesspeople for a total of $8,000 in cash prizes and mentorship opportunities from Billings-area businesses and organizations.

April 21, 2023 — As part of Altana Credit Union’s Youth Month festivities, credit union staff have visited with over 1,000 students from Red Lodge to Havre and communities in between to share their message of spend, save, and share. Students have ranged in age from kindergarten to high school, and all of them now know more about finances than they did last month. This picture proves that while money can’t buy happiness (debatable), fun financial education can.

April 14, 2023 — On April 22, Intrepid Credit Union will be partnering with Lewis & Clark Humane Society to cover adoption costs for any of their members. With proof of membership at the shelter, adopters get to take home their furry new family member at no charge. Intrepid CU said in recent communications, “We are constantly inspired by the work the Lewis & Clark Humane Society and other shelters do to help end animal cruelty in our communities. They provide a safe place for owners to surrender their pets, provide needed medical care, and gives animals a new chance at a forever home.”

April 7, 2023 — 1st Liberty Federal Credit Union is in their third year of “Keeping it Local.” With every funded loan and refinance received in April, they’ll donate $10 — the equivalent of five meals — to a participating local organization of the loan recipient’s choice in Great Falls, Conrad, Cut Bank, and Shelby:

  • NeighborWorks Great Falls
  • Great Falls Rescue Mission
  • Great Falls Community Food Bank
  • Pondera County Food Pantry
  • Shelby Sagebrush Food Pantry
  • Cut Bank Harvest Food Pantry
The campaign began in 2021 as a way to help their communities and those in need, especially following the pandemic. As all credit unions do, 1st Liberty wants to see their local communities thrive and keep contributions local.

March 31, 2023 — SEG Federal Credit Union began their Classroom Connections Grants program in 2010 as a way to help local teachers fund smaller projects/ideas for their classrooms without having to pay for them out of pocket. Since it began, SEG FCU has contributed at least four $150 grants per year to area educators for a total of over $8000!

March 24, 2023 — Valley Credit Union is hosting a diaper drive until March 31. They’re accepting opened and unopened packs of diapers of all sizes and wipes at all branches. Diaper donations will make a huge difference for future credit union members after they’re given to Family Promise of Yellowstone ValleyFamily Promise of Gallatin ValleyProject Hope of Stillwater County MT, and the Cody Cupboard.

March 24, 2023 — Last week, the Giant Springs Chapter — which includes Montana Credit Union, Russell Country Federal Credit Union, Horizon Credit Union, Fergus Federal Credit Union, Family First Federal Credit Union, and 1st Liberty Federal Credit Union — created a monstrous construction for the Great Fall Food Bank’s CANtastic event. Called “We CAN do our JURASSIC part to make hunger a thing of the past,” the project was made of 1,377 cans/packets and took 110 hours to plan, construct, and deCANstruct. The cans used in all of the creations were donated to the food bank to help stock their shelves. That’s CANtastic!

March 10, 2023 — Russell Country Federal Credit Union recently contributed $4,822 to the Alliance for Youth in Great Falls! The funds were raised by their staff and volunteer appreciation dinner through a silent auction and other fundraising activities.

March 10, 2023 — The Horizon Credit Union River Drive branch has been featuring art from local Great Falls students. The top finalists will have their art featured at the Out West Art Show and the winning artist will win a cash prize! Check out the art on the Horizon CU Facebook page to choose your favorite!

March 10, 2023 — Clearwater Credit Union, Horizon Credit Union, and Park Side Credit Union participated in a reality fair last week to help students learn basic money skills in a “real life” environment. These future credit union members are in Personal Finance classes at Hellgate High School.

March 3, 2023 — Sky Federal Credit Union has contributed a $500 sponsorship for this year’s Montanathon Dance Marathon. What is Dance Marathon? It’s is a movement benefitting Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals committed to having 100% of the funds stay local and support local kids. Montana State University is one of 350 campuses that participate each year, and 100% of their funds go straight to Shodair.

February 24, 2023 — This year marks the 12th anniversary of Park Side Credit Union‘s Partnership Program. This program provides cross-promotion, volunteer support, shared advertising, and a donation of $5,000 to each of six are non-profits. To date, Park Side has donated more than $250,000 to over 50 non-profit organizations through the program.

February 24, 2023 — The Gates of the Mountain Chapter (Intrepid Credit Union, Rocky Mountain Credit Union, and Vocal Credit Union) used leftover chapter fund to donate $1,245.50 to both Shodair Children’s Hospital and Helena Food Share. Montana families will benefit significantly from these two donations!

February 17, 2023 — The Rocky Mountain Credit Union Gallatin Valley Operations Leaders made quite the Costco haul for the Healthy Kids Pack Program in Bozeman-area schools. This program provides a weekly supplemental bag of groceries that provides healthy foods to children.

February 17, 2023 — Valley Credit Union recently released its 2022 community impact (click the image for a larger version). It shows a whopping 1,362.5 volunteer hours spent by their staff, along with $113,000 contributed to community nonprofits, schools, and other causes.

February 10, 2023 — Montana Credit Union donated $1,250 to Family Promise Great Falls, which helps families in need of stable housing in the area. This donation will cover one month’s rent and expenses for a family receiving their assistance.

February 10, 2023 — Whitefish Credit Union’s Thompson Falls community recently rallied together to collect over 150 snacks for the local elementary school. With that great response, the branch started collecting donations for the local food bank as an ongoing effort.

February 3, 2023 — As the population of Montana continues to age, vulnerable adults remain potential victims of financial exploitation. Fortunately, AARP has a program for training staff to recognize and report financial exploitation. The BankSafe program allows banks, credit unions, and investment firms to have AARP verify that at least 80% of their frontline staff successfully passed the BankSafe training and confirm that they have a financial-exploitation escalation reporting policy. Southwest Montana Community FCU in Anaconda and Butte earned the designation recently and joins Montana CU in Great Falls, which earned the designation in 2021 and continues to maintain it.

Jessica McArthur, Compliance Officer at Southwest Montana Community FCU, said of the program, “All of our staff found the training very timely, appreciated that it was up to date, and the scenarios used felt realistic and that they could be well referenced as we run into similar situations with our members.”

January 27, 2023 — Between now and February 10, Horizon Credit Union branches are collecting new pairs of socks to help people in their communities stay warm. The donated socks will then be delivered to local non-profits and dispersed to individuals in need throughout their communities.

January 20, 2023 — Earlier this week, Fergus Federal Credit Union made an extremely generous contribution of $100,000 to the new cancer center at Central Montana Medical Center in Lewistown. Said Fergus FCU’s President Jayme Durbin of the donation, “As an institution, we are living up to our motto, people helping people. That’s what this cancer center will do, and it’s part of our commitment to give back to the community.” The facility is planning to open in 2024.

January 13, 2013 — A partnership between Clearwater Credit Union in Great Falls and Opportunities, Inc. helps low-income individuals in the Great Falls area by providing free services like starting an account for them to help reach a financial goal or offering them financial counseling.

January 6, 2023 — Since the spring of 2020, Grasslands Federal Credit Union‘s Shop Local campaign has supported small businesses in the wake of the pandemic by encouraging members to keep their shopping as local as possible.

At the same time as they launched the Shop Local campaign, Grasslands was encouraging their members to take advantage of electronic statements, so they combined the two. Here’s how it works: When members sign up for eStatements and use their debit card in any zip code within the 18-county membership area, they qualify for a percentage of their purchases being deposited back into their checking accounts each month — up to $25 per member.

Since it began, this effort has DOUBLED the number of members who qualify for the campaign and DOUBLED the cash-back incentive each month, all while encouraging local shopping and interchange income. It’s a win-win-win: a win for the members, a win for the credit union, and a win for local businesses.
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Michelle Skinner small Michelle Skinner Communications Director

(406) 594-9888