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No matter how big or small your financial institution is, it’s important to connect with members of the local community. We recently spoke to Nicole Cypers, PR and Social Media Manager for America First Credit Union, to discuss how America First does just that and why they think it’s so important to do so.

In a few sentences, can you tell us a bit about America First Credit Union?  

America First Credit Union has a long-standing history and more than 76 years servicing members.  America First has become one of the largest, most stable and most progressive credit unions in the country, and has remained a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative financial institution. Today, America First has 112 branches, and is the 12th largest credit union in assets in the United States with over $7 billion, and the seventh largest credit union in membership in America with more than 724,000 members.

 What is an example of an initiative that America First Credit Union has that aims to give back to the local community? 

Annually, America First collects monetary donations to purchase new shoes for economically disadvantaged children throughout Utah and in the Las Vegas, Nevada area.  The Warm the Soles of Kids program has become one of America First’s most enduring holiday traditions. This year America First will donate to 18 schools and service organizations donating over 1400 pairs of shoes to children throughout Utah and Nevada.

America First created the Community Assistance Program (CAP) in 1989. Its purpose is to give financial support to organizations that provide job assistance, training, housing, food and medical services to those in need.  Organizations the CAP supports are: Cathedral of the Madeleine Good Samaritan Program, Catholic Community Services Joyce Hansen Hall Food Bank, Christmas Box International, Safe Nest Shelter, SHARE Food Bank, St. Anne’s Shelter, The Road Home, Three Square Food Bank and the YCC of Northern Utah.  Each year the credit union holds a special event to present representatives from each of these organizations with a donation to support their efforts.  This year the credit union presented $10,000 to each group at an event on November 17th.

Do you feel it’s important to connect with younger demographics and promote financial literacy, either directly or indirectly? Why?

Yes, it is important, we take every opportunity to assist in the classroom.  Examples of this are Reality Town Events, class presentations for Financial Literacy Classes and we also provide Checkbook kits and/or debit card registers.  These tools help to educate young people on how to balance a checkbook, budget and save.

Do you see any trends in how financial institutions are giving back to communities?

Giving back has always been at the core for America First and with the member growth we’re experiencing, we are having a growing impact on the communities we serve. With the increase in credit union presence, I think communities are seeing now, more than ever, how giving back is a priority for a credit union. We are cause-oriented, working closely with local organizations and impacting members (and non-members) right in the communities we serve. Whether it’s a food drive for local food banks or giving shoes to children in need, our employees and members are personally involved in the organizations we support and there’s a ripple effect there.

 Is there anything else you would like to add?

America First Credit Union will provide resources to charitable, educational, and civic outreach efforts that parallel our mission of financial literacy education, and directly supporting organizations that provide food, shelter, clothing and medical resources to the less fortunate in the communities we serve.


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