Healthy You, Healthy BECU

BECU is stronger when our members and communities are financially healthy. Through strategic efforts, we focused on increasing your financial health and the health of the communities in which we serve by offering member programs and $5.7 million in funding to key nonprofit partners.

Dollars & Sense: Our Financial Health Efforts

The knowledge and capability to better manage your finances is important to your overall financial health. Because BECU values financial health, we educated more than 18,000 BECU and community members through classes, workshops, and programs – free of charge.

Funding the Future: BECU & Youth

In 2018, we helped 15,174 students throughout the region get wise to a dollar’s worth. Our programs included classroom presentations, digital interactive financial education, Financial Reality Fairs, our Annual Day of Service, educational materials for families and smart savings accounts for kids.

BECU has offered me an invaluable experience to real financial issues around saving, spending, borrowing and planning. [The financial reality fair] was challenging, fun, and definitely beneficial!" —Michael Z., BECU member and BECU Foundation scholarship recipient

Financial Reality Fairs

Teens often need assistance in learning about real-world money know-how. Last year, we increased the number of “Financial Reality Fairs” at local high schools and family-friendly events. Teens downloaded a smartphone app and adopted an adult persona – complete with a job, salary, debt and responsibilities. They then navigated budgeting simulations and financial realities (such as paying rent and utilities), while BECU employees acted as “salespeople” and applied high-pressure tactics for items like a new car or housing. The result: financial edutainment (educational entertainment, get it?).

Comments we hear from kids who participate in our financial reality fairs include, ‘Oh, this is what my parents go through. I had no idea,’ and ‘Being an adult is expensive." —Martin V., Senior Manager of Community Programs

Annual Day of Service

More than 1,900 BECU employees led Financial Reality Fairs for over 8,000 students in 16 schools across Washington on our Annual Day of Service. In addition, nearly 100 BECU employees volunteered with additional Puget Sound nonprofit partners, including Habitat for Humanity, Puyallup Food Bank and Tacoma Rescue Mission.

The Next Big Talk

There are so many important conversations between parents and teens on critical issues, and we want you to be ready for the next difficult discussion, one often forgotten – the subject of spending, saving and borrowing money. Our Next Big Talk program offers a printable Money Talk Guide with conversation starters, tips and activities for parents and teens that reinforce smart money management. Our Next Big Talk was a little bigger in 2018 as we debuted our conversation guide in Spanish.

Early Saver Accounts

To encourage kids under 18 to start saving while young, our Early Saver Accounts earn premium interest rates on the first $500 in deposits. No fees, no minimum balances, and mobile and online banking access for teens 13 and up.

Savings Smarts for Adults

Financial Health Checks

Like any preventive checkup, our free Financial Health Check provides members with an understanding of their current financial health and makes actionable recommendations for a financially healthier lifestyle in under an hour. We’re proud that 41 percent of our 1,090 participants took small actions that can lead to big changes (while on the phone with us!): automating savings, using online tools for budgeting, setting up alerts and creating reminders to monitor balances.

Access to Financial Education

BECU’s webinars, in-person classes, self-paced courses and seminars (most of which are free!) are offered throughout Puget Sound, Spokane and on the internet. BECU classes educated members as they looked to buy their first home, prepared for retirement and reduced debt.


When your earning potential increases, the community as a whole gets stronger – creating a continuous circle of success. So we assisted members and individuals with finishing college, funding new businesses and developing workforce skills.

Prospecting for Potential

We invested in financial technology’s future by nurturing startups with money and mentoring at the BECU FinTech Incubator, in partnership with University of Washington’s CoMotion Labs. At CoMotion Labs, between 60-90 startups develop products and services in industries including IT, medical devices, virtual reality and now, financial technology.

Funding Higher Education Journeys

Last year, we donated $470,000 to 18 Washington-based organizations – including foundations, colleges and universities – to support students at risk of not completing degrees due to financial hardship. Student scholarships were funded by BECU grants to Highline College Foundation, Seattle Central Community College Foundation, Community Colleges of Spokane Foundation and many others.

In addition, 80 student BECU members benefited from $204,000 in BECU Foundation scholarships. We also realized the challenge of finding scholarships and grant funding after a degree program’s first year; our new two-year renewable scholarships went to students demonstrating a commitment to service, and academic and leadership potential.

BECU Foundation Scholarship Recipients
By partnering together and providing the right support at the right moment, we are helping students achieve their financial dreams, and start rewarding careers.” —Tom Berquist, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer

We support programs across Washington that are improving access to important services and help individuals find needed assistance. The result: A better financial outcome for everyone, and a more resilient community. A few of our partnerships include:

  • The Prosperity Agenda & FareStart. We partnered with The Prosperity Agenda, a research and design organization considering money from a social-emotional perspective, and FareStart, an organization providing culinary training to those with few or no skills. BECU funded Prosperity Agenda’s financial wellness curriculum for FareStart program members, including the innovative “Money Mindset” cards, which trigger deeper conversations and reflections about spending and saving.
  • United Way of Snohomish County. United Way of Snohomish County is an active partner with five CORE (Creating Open Roads to Equity) collaboratives working to remove barriers for the communities they serve, including those related to early childhood education, postsecondary and employment pathways, economic assets, social capital, and health and well-being.
  • Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners (SNAP). In our Spokane Valley service region, we awarded cash prizes to startups in SNAP’s first-ever Women’s Business Center Competition, and supported a financial stability program, business grants and resilience campaigns.
Through forming strategic partnerships, we are working toward advancing the financial health of our members and communities by helping them visualize and achieve their financial goals." —Gloria D., Community Giving Manager

Equitable Equity: Savings & Loans For All

At BECU, we believe that everyone should have access to affordable and convenient financial services benefiting members – not shareholders or those seeking profits from underserved communities. We partner with a variety of organizations to increase access for everyone.

Express Credit Union Pilot Expansion

Last year, our Tukwila Financial Center began hosting Community Tellers from Express Credit Union so we can refer and offer an immediate alternative to a safe and affordable financial home for those that BECU is not able to serve. Express Credit Union is a member-owned, not-for-profit credit union focusing on products tailored to unmet financial needs for underserved Washington state residents. We expanded the referral partnership midway through the year to our Downtown Seattle Neighborhood Financial Center on Second Avenue and Pine Street.

Business Impact NW Mentorship Program

Loan access can be an obstacle for small businesses and companies owned by minorities, veterans and women. In 2018, we extended our longstanding partnership with Business Impact NW. Along with two other credit unions (Verity Credit Union and Harborstone Credit Union), we offered loans to participants in its Capacity Building Mentorship Program to support Washington’s diverse business community.

This unique program pairs small and underserved businesses with successful contractors and consultants, who can provide technical assistance and advice for working with the Washington State Department of Transportation and Sound Transit, co-creators of the partnership.


BECU’s People Helping People Award recipients are nominated and voted on by you – our members.

Much of BECU’s community philanthropy is inspired by our members through our People Helping People Awards program. After we reviewed 600 member-nominated organizations, 18 nonprofits were selected to receive grants between $15,000 and $50,000 through the program, including Reading Partners, Rain City Rock Camp for Girls, Brigadoon Service Dogs and White Center Food Bank. The award recipients were selected in a variety of categories: Advancing Education, Arts and Culture, Economic Opportunity, Health and Wellness, Preserving the Environment, Providing for Basic Needs and Strengthening Local Community.

People Helping People Award Recipients: Rain City Rock Camp for Girls

And through our “Make A Purchase. Make A Difference.” campaign, every BECU credit and debit card transaction in August and September generated a one-cent donation to the People Helping People Awards program. With your support, we hit our total goal of $515,000!

As a result of your card activity and inspired nominations, our People Helping People grants nourished communities, funded girl-power creativity, provided one-on-one reading assistance to local youth and trained service dogs.

We joined BECU many years ago because we wanted to bank with an institution that cares about our community, and gives back in very meaningful ways." —Sharon C-G., BECU member


BECU Cares

In addition to our Annual Day of Service, our employees are generous with hours, money and dedication to improve their local communities. We’re proud of our BECU employees’ hard work for charitable causes, which inspires everyone to do just a little more.

Here’s how BECU advances our employees’ giving efforts:

  • Our BECU Cares program encourages giving, volunteering, collaborative fundraising and cause-related efforts.
  • We match employees’ financial gifts (up to $7,500/year) to qualifying organizations. Last year, BECU employees donated over $327,000 and BECU matched over $331,000 in bighearted donations.
  • In 2018, 240 employees volunteered 10,461 hours at 345 organizations, fueled in part by the 12 hours of paid time off that BECU employees are given to volunteer.
I volunteer to enrich the lives of youth and leave my community a little better than I found it." —BJ H., Member Relationship Manager

Extending Community Support

An additional way that we give back is by providing each of our Neighborhood Financial Centers with set funds to support their local communities in the ways most meaningful to each location. As a result, our teams sponsor neighborhood festivals or donate to local nonprofits, including food banks, outdoor restoration projects and more. In 2018, BECU teams supported 144 organizations through $183,000 in funding.

Continue to the next section:

Read other sections of our 2018 Annual Report:


IV: BECU By the Numbers

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