Teachers and Schools: How We Honor Our Scholastic Roots

Published October 13, 2023

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At Maps Credit Union, we understand that investing in education is one of the most important ways to build a thriving community. In fact, our focus on education is rooted in our 1935 start. Our proud history as a credit union began with an organization both by and for school employees. While the tools we use to empower those school employees (and now the rest of our members) have changed over the past 85 years, our commitment to lifelong learning has never faltered.

We Love Teachers. We Love Schools

Since 1935, it has been our goal to connect and support the schools in our community. We do this by offering the teachers, students, and families in Marion and Polk Counties (and beyond) low-cost financial products and special programs designed to meet their specific needs. Want some examples? 

Teacher Grants

Each year, the Maps Community Foundation provides grants (up to $1,000) to as many as 30 teachers for innovative, impactful projects. Through these grants, we hope to empower teachers in Marion and Polk counties to help their students learn and grow.

In fact, the applications for 2023 Teacher Grants are NOW OPEN! If you are a teacher in our community with classroom needs or projects, we want to hear about them!  Past projects have included STEM kits, a telescope, field trips, musical instruments, bilingual books, social-emotional learning (SEL) materials, and physical education motivation materials. Just check out this impact video from Scott Elementary where Maps 2022 Teacher Grant winner David Whetzel put his grant to work motivating students to increase their physical fitness. Great work, Mr. Whetzel!




Student Scholarships

Each year, the Maps Community Foundation provides thousands of dollars in scholarships that range in size from $500 to $3,500 to Mid-Willamette Valley graduating seniors. In 2023, we awarded $50,000! We do this because we are invested in helping our student members pursue their dreams and navigate through life’s defining moments. In 2023, we had an impressive group of students apply for Maps scholarships from across all Marion and Polk counties and we were honored to hear personal stories. The applicants shared their academic achievements, community involvement, and future goals with the selection committee. We then selected 24 amazing students and awarded them scholarships to fund the next chapter of their lives.  

Maps Credit Union is proud to be a community partner and we encourage all 2024 Marion and Polk County high school graduates to apply for scholarships when the next window opens in the spring of 2024. Our hope is that by helping students offset the cost of their education, we can provide immediate support to their financial wellbeing today, while also investing in their long-term success.

Bite of Reality Program

The Bite of Reality Program is a new addition to the Maps roster, and we are excited to bring this fun, hands-on program to high school students across our community this school year. Through this program, students learn to make realistic financial decisions as imagined adults. Each student is given a fictional occupation, salary, and family as well as student loans, credit card debt, insurance payments, and other such obligations.

Throughout the event, participants visit various merchant tables to “purchase” food, housing, transportation, daycare, clothing, entertainment, and other necessities while they interact with persuasive “salespeople” who try to influence them to make decisions. In addition to everyday expenses, students may encounter the “Fickle Finger of Fate”, which brings them unexpected “expenses” or “windfalls”, just like real life.

During the simulation, students learn the consequences of their decisions. They may fail or succeed, but either way, they have the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences with their peers. More importantly, they learn the value of problem-solving skills, persistence, creativity, and cooperative teamwork.



Maps High School Branches

Maps Credit Union’s Student Branch Program provides high school students with the opportunity to learn valuable job skills. Our Student Tellers are responsible for all aspects of running their branches, as well as teaching their peers the importance of budgeting and saving. Our Student Branches have proven to be invaluable for developing skills and preparing students for future positions at Maps Credit Union, other career opportunities, or educational endeavors.

Maps currently operates two Student Branches and employs 12 student interns and more than 20 student tellers between McKay High School (the Royal Scots Branch) and West Salem High School (the Titan Branch). We are also proud to say that several current Maps team members began their careers at Maps Credit Union as student tellers or interns. Working in tandem with our Financial Education and Scholarship Programs, Maps is helping students take their education to the next level.

Since its 1995 start, the Maps High School Branch program has received a lot of attention and accolades from educators and businesses across the country.

Employee Volunteer Program

As part of this give-back program, we encourage staff to volunteer in their neighborhood schools and community by providing each of them with 24 hours of paid volunteer time annually. That totals more than 7,000 paid volunteer hours allocated to the benefit of schools and community organizations each year.

Several Maps employees have chosen to volunteer their time giving back to the schools in their community either by volunteering with the schools directly or through charitable organizations like The United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley, Start Making A Reader Today (SMART), Family Building Blocks, and Habitat for Humanity.

Summer Saver Account for School Employees

Finally, we heard from many of our members who work in schools that with rising inflation, it’s sometimes difficult to budget for a summer without paychecks. In response, we developed a savings option exclusively for school employees who wish to save for the summer. This high yield savings account allows anyone who works at a school to save up to a maximum of $2,000 a month through payroll deduction or direct deposit. There is no penalty for early withdrawal, and every summer, the balance is automatically deposited into their Maps membership savings account on July first.

Today, Tomorrow, and Always

As an organization, we are committed to serving the needs of our members, schools, and communities. After all, being a good community partner is one of our guiding principles. We share our time, energy, and resources to support education because we believe that is what community is all about. Our mission—Every Member Benefits—calls for us to be passionate about inspiring future generations. It calls us to serve our communities through volunteerism, charitable giving, sponsorships, scholarships, and more. We do this because we believe that strong schools are the foundation of strong communities.

 

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