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II. BECU + COMMUNITY

In 2020, we invested $6.4 million into the communities where our members live, work and play. Every year, we advance community financial well-being with donations to nonprofit partners and by improving financial smarts. Here's how the funding broke down:

That's the big picture. We'd like to highlight a few new and notable ventures demonstrating how our giving aligns with our values and drives our purpose forward.

We Support Our Neighbors in Crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic and related closures threatened the physical and financial health of individuals and families, communities, colleges, businesses and nonprofits. Here's how BECU supported nonprofits to alleviate the damage.

Flexibility in Funding

In the early spring of 2020, as donations fell and doors closed, nonprofit partners needed to pivot. We let organizations know they could use our funding to help address any COVID-19 impact, not just on the original spending scope. As a result, nonprofits weren't forced to choose between serving their mission and keeping the lights on.

SPOTLIGHT: Support of Communities Impacted by COVID-19

How did nonprofits use BECU’s grants during COVID-19?

Serving over 30,000 students annually in Eastern Washington, Community Colleges of Spokane helped meet a 200% increase in student emergency requests for basics like rent and simple, refurbished laptops to continue schooling through the 2020 spring quarter.

Freedom Project provided nearly 400 facemasks—hand-sewn by a community member—in addition to food supplies and housing resources, as the nonprofit worked to dismantle the institution of mass incarceration and heal its traumatic effects on our community.

Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners (SNAP) is one of Spokane County’s largest private human-services agencies and assisted more clients and purchased technology so staff could serve more low-income individuals.

Benevolence Boosts

To amplify support of nonprofit organizations impacted by COVID-19, BECU matched employee donations at 2:1 in May. As a result, more than 220 BECU employees raised $280,750 for 350+ nonprofits.

Compassion for Community

BECU's community relief programs addressed the right-now needs experienced by many small businesses and post-secondary students. In total, BECU pledged $620,000 in philanthropic giving to the following COVID-19 relief funds, which then dispersed aid to smaller nonprofit organizations:

Partnering to Care

The BECU Foundation and Washington State Department of Commerce partnered for the CARES ACT Project, distributing $2 million to local nonprofits that work directly to support a diverse group of small businesses across the state.

Small-Biz Assistance

The BECU Foundation partnered with Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth for the Momentum Grants Program. This program benefited the small businesses most devastated by the pandemic. After a thorough review, the following organizations were awarded grants of up to $50,000 to upgrade technology or assist micro-to-medium-sized enterprises:

Educational Equity

We celebrated our third year of a funding partnership with Seattle Promise, a program to boost future incomes for individuals and build a more equitable future. Through the Seattle Colleges Foundation, Seattle Promise provides students with financial support and ongoing college and career guidance when enrolling in North Seattle College, Central Seattle College or South Seattle College. BECU signed the agreement in 2019, helping kick-off fundraising efforts to support the Promise Endowment, ensuring the fund’s longevity.

We Support Racial Equity

We are committed to creating an equitable environment where everyone feels like they belong. In 2020, we took our first steps in a larger, long-term effort to invest in programs supporting Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

Black Community Development Project (BCDP)

Our Social Impact team and a BECU employee connection group (the Black Alliance Cooperative) created the BCDP in 2020. This five-year, $5 million partnership with Black-led nonprofits hopes to improve the Black community's overall emotional, physical and financial health and well-being.

We're extremely proud to support these dedicated organizations who are leaders in serving our communities with programs focused on education, housing, workforce development, civic engagement and more, and invest in future programs for BIPOC communities” —Solynn McCurdy, BECU's senior vice president of Social Impact

Here's how BCDP focused funding in 2020:

Community Impact Grants

BECU provided $450,000 to nonprofits addressing historical and institutional systems of racism, bias and inequity faced by the Black community and other under-represented communities:

  • Africatown CLT: Supporting community ownership of Seattle Central District land for cultural and economic opportunities.
  • Black Farmers Collective: Backing a two-acre urban agriculture farm focused on sustainable, equitable farming in Black communities and eliminating food scarcity.
  • Carl Maxey Center (Friends of Black Lens): Publishing a Spokane, Washington weekly newspaper focused on stories of interest and issues affecting the Black community.
  • Lavender Rights Project (Washington Black Trans Task Force): Seeking awareness and support to end violence against the Black Trans community.
  • LANGSTON: Focusing on the arts legacy and rebirth in Seattle's Black Central District.
  • The R3 Inc. (South Charleston, South Carolina): Providing tools and activities to eliminate negative behavior, enhance positive social behavior, and increase self-worth and self-esteem.
  • Tabor 100: Committing to economic power through an association of Black entrepreneurs and business leaders.
  • Wonder of Women: Helping Black women and girls find their voice, stand in their truth and celebrate their wonder by telling their stories.

Cooperative Ventures

BECU gave $200,000 to the Black Future Co-op Fund, a statewide organization uplifting Black-led solutions igniting Black generational wealth, health and well-being. We also granted $100,000 to the African-American Credit Union Coalition, a nonprofit working to increase diversity within the credit union community and composed of African-American professionals, volunteers and members.

Nonprofit Capacity Building Donations

BECU employees and members nominated and selected five grassroots nonprofits to receive a total of $150,000:

  • Cultural Enrichment: NW Tap Connection
  • Economic: Horn of Africa Services
  • Education: Red-Tailed Hawks Flying Club (Black Pilots of America, Inc.)
  • Health and Wellness: Our Sister's House
  • Civic Engagement: Black Community Impact Alliance

Employee Donations

BECU also offered a 2:1 employee gift match for donations to 10 organizations identified by the Black Alliance Cooperative, giving $27,000 as a result.

At BECU, people helping people goes beyond supporting our members with their financial goals. It means not standing idle in the face of bias and racism, and recognizing our responsibility to embrace and support diverse experiences and viewpoints.” —Benson Porter, BECU president and chief executive officer

We Improve Member Financial Health

Our financial health programs educate and coach individuals and families in the communities we serve. In 2020, we buoyed around 12,185 people through our Financial Health programs, encouraging financial capability and instilling cash confidence:

About 850 members participated in BECU's Financial Health Check program, a free one-on-one confidential check-up on budgeting, savings and debt management decisions.

We offered our Financial Health Check team's assistance to 3,700 members who applied for an Income Interruption Loan, then introduced GreenPath Financial Wellness's financial counseling to BECU members experiencing financial stress.

We partnered with education technology company EVERFI so parents and students could use free digital financial education courses to build important financial management skills while at home.

To address COVID-19 impacts, we moved our financial education offerings to virtual meetings and learning so no one missed out. Our 50+ member education webinars and seminars attracted nearly 10,000 attendees—many virtually on Zoom and in their homes—on topics such as:

  • First-Time Home Buyer
  • Maintaining Resilience and Energy in a Virtual World
  • Facing a Layoff, Voluntary Layoff, or Furlough: What are the Considerations?
  • Building Credit
  • How to Read Your Credit Report
  • 10 Tips to Reduce Debt
  • Managing Your Finances During a Crisis
  • Budgeting Tips Tricks and Tools
  • Social Security Decisions

We Back Member Giving

While our People Helping People Awards (PHPA) ceremony was virtual this year, we're proud of the real-world impact made through BECU’s annual awards program. BECU members nominated more than 500 organizations, with $525,000 going to 19 new nonprofits and 42 past recipients through additional funding. Many of these organizations are centered on racial equity, social justice and empowering marginalized communities.

BECU employee Sangeeta Gupte was honored for her service as board president of Young Women Empowered.

Densho was selected by community popular vote.

BECU employees chose Everyone for Veterans by popular vote.

Past PHPA recipients voted to award Families of Color Seattle with this honor.

I'm very proud of the work that's being done for our communities. Thank you, BECU.” —Afua K., BECU member

We Support Affordable Housing

Affordable Housing Partnerships

With increasing housing prices and low inventory, BECU has taken specific and intentional actions to preserve and grow affordable rental housing.

In 2020, this is how we helped create access to more affordable homes:

Affordable Housing Loan Products

In 2020, we provided nearly $15 million in commercial refinancing, and rehab loans for multi-family units for lease to either low-income tenants (up to 60% area median income) and/or to workforce housing tenants (those earning approximately 80%–125% area median income). For example, Bellwether Housing used low-interest refinancing to replace roofing at Seattle's Vine Court Apartments, which are reserved for families earning below area median income. Over the next three years, we've allocated $50 million per year for affordable housing loans.

Social Investments Program

This new lending program targets nonprofit organizations meeting low-income Puget Sound housing needs.

Evergreen Impact Housing Fund

To support affordable Puget Sound workforce housing construction and long-term growth, BECU joined four other credit unions to form Evergreen Impact Housing Fund I, LLC. The company invests in subordinate loans made to King County multi-family housing development projects approved by the state Housing Finance Commission. The Seattle Foundation manages and operates this company, at the request of BECU and the other credit unions.

Continue to the next section:

Read other sections of our 2020 Annual Report:

I: BECU + YOU

IV: BECU By the Numbers

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