MADISON, Wis. (1/24/14)--Five credit unions have used the spirit of cooperation to help homeless students in Madison, Wis.
In November, Sally Dischler, president/CEO of Heartland CU in Madison, read a newspaper article about the challenges Madison homeless children face in maintaining consistent school schedules as they move from shelter to shelter.
Heartland CU had already developed a Give Local community support program. Each holiday season for the past several years, it has chosen an organization to benefit with the goal of raising awareness as well as money. Dischler and the credit union decided to dedicate their 2013 Give Local efforts to the Madison Metropolitan School District's Transition Education Program (TEP), which provides homeless students with transportation, school supplies and food.
Heartland also enlisted four other Madison credit unions to join in the project. Those credit unions include Summit CU, Madison CU, Members First CU and Heritage CU.
Homelessness isn't a social problem often associated with Madison, a university town with a population of about 200,000. So far this school year, TEP has identified 964 homeless students, an increase of 30% over last year. To help underscore the issue, Heartland produced videos featuring some of the homeless students in the Madison Metropolitan School District.
"We've had good success with videos on social media in the past, so we knew it was an effective way to share our message," Robin Marohn, vice president of marketing at Heartland CU, told News Now. "I think in the back of our minds, we know that homelessness exists all over, but I don't think we realize how that affects kids. The videos really helped send that message home."
So far, the project has raised $35,000. An advisory group will work with the school district to determine how the funds will be used to help the homeless students.