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II. BECU + COMMUNITY

BECU’s strength comes from our members. We also realize that the financial well-being of our members is tied to the strength of their community. That is why we invest in programs that help build stronger communities.

As a financial cooperative, we focused our time and efforts on increasing the financial well-being of our members and communities through education, scholarships, programs and $6.4 million in funding to community partners. Here’s how we gave back to our communities in 2019.

The Ways BECU Gives Back

We Improve Financial Well-Being

BECU is committed to supporting the community at every age and stage, and empowering smarter, savvier members. From the first savings account to comfortable retirement, we educated 20,520 people last year in various financial stages of life. That’s why 59% of our total giving is dedicated to reinforcing the four pillars of financial health: Spend, Save, Borrow, and Plan.

Children

With our high-interest-earning Early Saver Account, more kids started out on the right financial foot in 2019. Over 100,000 youth have Early Saver accounts, which pay a premium interest rate on the first $500 in deposits. It’s an easy (and profitable) way for kids to learn about interest and create a savings habit.

Teens

Over 16,000 students practiced real-world finances through in-class lessons, our EverFi partnership and our Annual Day of Service. During the one-day service event, BECU employees conduct budgeting simulations with thousands of high school students across Washington state. In 2019, more than 2,000 BECU employees interacted with over 11,000 students at 18 schools statewide. Since 2015, we’ve helped more than 30,000 teens understand how to manage their money.

When it comes to talking to kids about money, parents can get nervous. In 2019, our BECU consumer survey revealed that only 28% of parents discuss financial topics with their kids, and name fear as a primary barrier. To ease the conversation, we developed the Next Big Talk conversation guide for parents to speak with their kids about money at home.

Next Big Talk Tip: To boost your teen’s financial knowledge, ask them to plan a dinner with a $20 budget, or review together credit card offers received in the mail taking care to discuss the fine print.

THANK YOU for allowing us to be part of this great event for the second year in a row. Our students really gained a lot of insight and knowledge into this hands-on experience.” —Roderick B., teacher at participating Annual Day of Service school

Adults

Our programs focus on financial well-being. Nearly 1,000 members participated in a one-on-one Financial Health Check, and more than 3,300 members of BECU and the community attended free financial webinars and in-person sessions on topics like home buying, investing and more.

We Partner with Members to Give Back

Our member-inspired giving starts with you. Every year, our members nominate change-making nonprofits that are inspirational, powerful and community-based. In 2019, we received more than 800 nominations—ranging from theater companies to children’s services to conservation organizations—for nonprofits serving the Puget Sound region, Spokane, Washington and Charleston, South Carolina.

Then, BECU members raised money, one penny at a time, through our Make A Purchase. Make A Difference. Campaign. For each member’s August and September credit and debit card transactions, one cent was donated to the campaign. We surpassed our $515,000 goal and raised $594,000.

On December 5, 2019, BECU presented awards to 18 nonprofit finalists at our People Helping People Awards ceremony. Our winning organizations represent a wide range of issues impacting diverse audiences in meaningful ways. The recipients include:

Shawn Cole with Raising Girls, which presents South Sound girls and boys with care bags to help prevent personal hygiene needs from keeping them out of school.

Raising Girls is not just about giving girls hygiene products, it’s about helping them discover their own worth. Knowing that BECU values this type of work in the community and does so much to support Raising Girls, and other amazing groups, makes me exponentially proud to be a member!” —Shawn C., BECU member and Raising Girls volunteer

Advocates for Immigrants in Detention Northwest, which provides emotional assistance to immigrants in detention; released immigrants receive warm welcomes, resource referrals and transitional support.

Harbor WildWatch, which inspires stewardship of local waters and offers a variety of enjoyable educational programs serving youth, adults, and families to encourage marine environment protection, restoration and conservation.

Freedom Education Project, which creates a rigorous college program and post-release higher-ed pathways for those incarcerated at the Washington Corrections Center for Women.

We Fund Academic Pursuits

Postsecondary Scholarships and Partnerships

One of the pillars for long-term financial well-being is education. We support increasing community earning potential through funding workforce development and postsecondary completion. Examples include:

  • Over $993,500 to 18 organizations that support degree-completion scholarships, including Highline College Foundation, Seattle Central College Foundation and Community Colleges of Spokane Foundation.
  • University scholarships for students, including those pursuing health sciences programs at Washington State University (WSU) and certificate scholarships at the University of Washington.
  • Partnerships with organizations providing admissions, financial aid and coaching support for college preparation.
  • University of Washington Business Plan Competition sponsorship, which is open to undergraduates and graduates statewide. Student entrepreneurs compete to innovate, develop a team and write a business plan to present to investors.

BECU Foundation Scholarships

Our charitable, private BECU Foundation awarded a total of $384,500 to 151 students (including renewable scholarships from the previous year) last year. Of those, 80 new recipients were members receiving $2,500 or $3,500 scholarships each for postsecondary program use.

Scholarships are renewable over a two-year period and recognize student members demonstrating leadership, community service, and academic potential. Since 1995, the BECU Foundation has given more than 1,100 student members more than $3 million in scholarships.

BECU recognizes there is a connection between earning a post-secondary degree or certificate and greater income potential in the future. That’s why we partner with local institutions to remove barriers and provide access to resources for students wanting to continue or complete their education.” —Gloria D., BECU employee

We Encourage Employee-Inspired Giving

BECU supports the causes that our employees are most passionate about through matching 100% of donations up to $7,500 per year, per employee. Through our BECU Cares program, we matched over $370,000 of employee donations in 2019.

Our employees generously volunteered, as well. In 2019, BECU employees spent more than 13,600 hours with 728 causes. To encourage volunteerism, BECU employees receive 12 hours of paid time off each year to volunteer, and we offer financial support to the nonprofits where our employees volunteer and serve on boards.

Thanks BECU for the volunteer time off and supporting organizations like Reading Partners that directly impact our communities!” —Hazelmae O., BECU employee

We Partner with Credit Unions and Co-ops

As a successful credit union, we believe in the not-for-profit, member-driven model. So, we partner with fellow credit unions sharing our mission and passion for member service at the national level (national credit union trade association memberships, fundraising and grants) and the local level.

For example, we work with Express Credit Union, a member-owned, not-for-profit institution working with underserved Washington state residents. BECU ensures safe and affordable access to financial services by initiating member referrals and paperwork for those who may benefit from the services of Express Credit Union.

The financial well-being of our members and communities is intimately interconnected with the broader well-being of people around the world. Thanks for broadening our vision, BECU!” —Steve S., BECU employee

We’re a Good Neighbor

Each Neighborhood Financial Center funds their community in meaningful ways, whether sponsoring neighborhood festivals or donating to local nonprofits. In total, BECU NFCs supported dozens of organizations through nearly $350,000 in gifting last year.

We Support Affordable Housing

We’re in the midst of a housing crisis in Washington state. Our region simply doesn’t have enough affordable homes available for those who need them most. BECU is responding with innovative ways to fill gaps in financing and other unmet needs.

Our team is committed to the financial well-being of our members and enriching our communities. We recognize that homeownership can be an important milestone in someone’s financial journey.” —Scott Strand, BECU’s chief operating officer

Building Assets through Nonprofit Donations

We fund nonprofit programs helping consumers build assets through homeownership, including foreclosure prevention, owner-occupied repairs and financial readiness planning for home purchases. Examples of our partners include:

  • Housing Hope offers affordable housing and homeownership opportunities for Snohomish County and Camano Island residents. They’ve helped over 300 families build and own their own homes. Their affiliate HopeWorks provides skills and training for jobs paying living wages.
  • Rebuilding Together South Sound repairs or rebuilds homes at no cost for low-income homeowners, including the elderly, those with disabilities or families with children.
  • Habitat for Humanity builds and provides permanent affordable housing to qualifying families.

Social Lending Program

In 2019, we started a social lending program to assist nonprofit building projects in meeting the needs of the community and addressing the region’s housing gaps. We’re proud that one of our first program loans supported the October opening of HopeWorks Station II in Everett, Washington by Housing Hope.

HopeWorks offers wraparound housing, employment training, family support coaches and childcare programs to those in need. Young adult interns and residents can learn retail skills in the ReNewWorks consignment furniture store, culinary talents in Kindred Kitchen’s café or landscaping arts through GroundWorks; all are affiliated with HopeWorks.

For us, housing is a means to an end to solve the root causes that resulted in poverty and homelessness. Without question, BECU is one of our most supportive partners, and has been vital to us in many ways.” —Fred Sastrom, Housing Hope’s CEO

Affordable Loan Products

Our team has also worked hard to identify funding gaps for low-income-qualifying apartment buildings, townhomes and other rental construction. As a result, BECU will allocate $50 million per year over the next three years to incentivize affordable housing.

We’re partnering with local nonprofits, for-profit corporations and others on housing solutions. Lack of affordable housing is a systemic challenge that requires all hands on deck.

Lower interest rates and longer terms for refinancing loans makes affordable rental properties more attractive to builders, buyers and renovators. Our generous refinancing of affordable-rental properties helps property owners replace roofs, repave driveways or otherwise upgrade and remodel residences to current housing standards.

Our balance sheet strength allows us to offer low-rate, long-term “workforce” loans for new, in-city construction containing affordable rentals. Due to skyrocketing housing prices, many Seattle-based median-wage service professionals must live far from their workplace—which then contributes to traffic gridlock.

With workforce loans, we want to enable families to spend more time with their kids versus commuting.” —Debbie Taglialavore, BECU’s director of commercial lending

Continue to the next section:

Read other sections of our 2019 Annual Report:

I: BECU + YOU

IV: BECU By the Numbers

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