Columbia CU Leverages Community Relationships for Critical Pandemic Relief


Columbia Credit Union has long made it a priority to partner with organizations in Southwest Washington to serve its members and communities in the best ways possible. When COVID-19 hit, the sheer need for help during the pandemic was unprecedented and called for an unparalleled response.

To answer that call, the Vancouver-based cooperative not only leveraged its own dollars but also drew upon relationships with long-standing community leaders and new business partners alike.

With neighbors, families, and organizations reeling from the COVID-19 health crisis, like all regions across the country, Southwest Washington saw an expanded need for PPE, hotel accommodations, and overtime pay for health workers. Columbia CU partnered with the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington, joining the All In WA campaign to maximize relief efforts.

The credit union donated $100,000 to the SW Washington COVID Response Fund. That donation helped kick off local fundraising efforts in conjunction with the All In WA campaign and represented the largest corporate gift provided to the Fund. The contribution also spurred $300,000 in additional donations, thanks to two matching gifts.

Jennifer Rhodes, President of the Community Foundation, explained that relief efforts for the region are dependent upon good community business citizens, like Columbia CU.

“Shared challenges require a collective response, and this gift is a perfect example of how community-minded businesses can address the impacts of COVID-19,” she said. “This relief effort is both a sprint and a marathon, and investments like this are direly needed to sustain our region’s recovery and to build our resilience for the future.”

As a Columbia CU partner, Battle Ground Healthcare received a $65,000 grant from the Fund, helping the organization hire a nurse practitioner to meet increased patient demand.

During the pandemic, Columbia CU transitioned whole departments and operations to introduce new in-house relief options, ramp up member fraud prevention, and issue 11,684 fee-free Loan Skip Payments, as well as $233,693 in short-term, no-interest Bridge Loans to members who had lost their jobs.

Additionally, through a partnership with The Loan Source, the credit union facilitated more than $45 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses, which helped save approximately 5,000 jobs in the region.

In all, the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington awarded 128 grants totaling $5,133,535 to local nonprofits in 2020, thanks, in part, to Columbia CU’s “People Helping People” commitment.

Watch the video below to learn more about how the Community Foundation helped local populations through the pandemic.

Posted in Community Impact.