2021 In Review: University Credit Union’s Community Investments
UCU ranked top Maine credit union for volunteer service
ORONO, Maine (February 23, 2022) – Fulfilling its mission to advance members’ financial well-being in every stage of life, in 2021 University Credit Union proudly invested in organizations, programs and causes focused on community and campus needs, from food insecurity and financial literacy to small business recovery and student health and wellness in a variety of impactful ways.
“At UCU, our core values guide everything we do,” said UCU President and CEO Renee Ouellette. “Caring, honesty and integrity, professionalism, quality, and fun define what our members, employees, and peers can expect from UCU every day. Looking at our community investments over the past year, we remained focused on meeting members where they are– personally, financially, geographically– and giving the support they need to reach their life goals.”
Empowering employees to be active in their community, UCU introduced paid leave for employees to get out and volunteer with the organizations and causes most important to them. For 2021, the Maine Credit Union League CUs Share for ME program ranked UCU as the #1 Maine credit union for total volunteer time, with over 3,200 hours donated. Volunteer service hours were used with dozens of organizations and causes throughout the year, including Special Olympics of Maine, local animal shelters, food pantries and a variety of volunteer committee and board positions.
Another one of the credit union’s milestone community investments of 2021, UCU appointed two of its certified financial counselors, Jenn Deschene and Lesley Ridge, as the credit unions first-ever Community Engagement Managers. In these roles, Ridge and Deschene represent UCU as community ambassadors throughout the state, engaging with members, businesses, nonprofits, local leaders, and others to identify community needs and lend support in the areas of financial literacy, volunteerism, and public service.
In continued support of financial literacy throughout members’ lives, UCU launched U Financially Fit and U Financially Fit Teen programs. The web-based programs provide on-demand self-paced financial education modules on a variety of topics ranging from checking and savings accounts to retirement to identity protection, allowing for members and community members to learn important financial education concepts, at their own convenience.
At the height of Maine’s summer hospitality season, UCU launched several efforts to support Maine small businesses while also helping to address food insecurity. In June, UCU awarded Jobs for New England recovery grants to nine Maine small businesses in healthcare, hospitality, education, and telecommunication organizations to help them reopen, stay in operation, hire/retain staff, and recover from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. UCU also launched a week-long campaign to support Orono-area restaurants, donating $5 per order to the Campaign for Ending Hunger, which was featuring locally on News Center Maine and WABI Channel 5.
Teaming up with the University of Maine Athletics during the 2021 football, baseball, and softball seasons for fun “Sack Hunger” and “Strikeout Hunger” campaigns, in which UCU donated to the Black Bear Exchange campus food pantry for every sack and strikeout the Black Bears made. UCU also renewed a longstanding athletic sponsorship agreements with multiple campuses within the UMaine System providing additional funding for venue improvements, equipment upgrades, special services/events, and other activities not included in the departments’ regular operating budgets.
Continuing its annual tradition, UCU along with support of members and community members across the state, rallied to raise $35,461 in 2021 for the Campaign for Ending Hunger, which provides critical supplemental funding for local food assistance programs that have seen increased demand during the pandemic. This support goes to assist the more than 166,000 Mainers experiencing hunger each year, including 44,000 children, according to Feeding America.
For its seventh consecutive year, UCU awarded scholarships to students furthering their undergraduate education at the seven University of Maine System campuses and Maine Maritime Academy, continuing to support UCU’s roots and dedication to the University of Maine System and supporting higher education. Currently, applications for the 2022 UCU Scholarship are open online at ucumaine.com/scholarship. In another effort to foster education, UCU partnered with the UMaine Alumni Association for its annual tuition raffle at the flagship campus.
Looking ahead, UCU continues to invest in and support its greater community through engagement at hyper-local and statewide levels. Additional certified financial counselors will be trained throughout the credit union’s many locations, providing access to financial counseling and resources both in person and virtually for members across the state of Maine. As events return, UCU looks to continue to support and align with groups that share its mission, continuing their efforts with the Ending Hunger Campaign, and furthering the use of its U Financially Fit programs to help more individuals across the state.
About University Credit Union
Established on the University of Maine campus in 1967, University Credit Union is an innovative, full-service financial institution with a mission to actively advance the financial well-being of our members in every stage of their lives. UCU is the seventh largest credit union in Maine in terms of total assets, sixth in total members, and has retail locations across the state located in Orono, Bangor, Farmington, Gorham, Portland, and Presque Isle. For more information visit ucumaine.com.