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What We Learned from Our Communities and YOU in 2023

May 14, 2024

This past year, we had the chance to work hand-in-hand with organizations who put their communities first, time and time again. When faced with social and economic challenges, these people didn’t just give a voice to the problem — they asked, “What can I do to help my community become a champion of this cause rather than a victim of it?”

ICCU (and individual team members!) donated $1.4 million in 2023 alone. That number may be impressive, but the truth is, it would mean nothing without the organizations that work day and night to turn those dollars into true impact.

While we can’t begin to name everyone who made a difference in 2023, we can highlight a few key organizations and the lessons they taught us along the way, plus leave you with a tip or two of our own.

(Psst … Interested in community service in your area? See Idaho and Washington nonprofits to get started.)

Ronald McDonald House Charities: Good relationships aren’t the goal; they’re the foundation.

Resilient relationships are at the heart of all united communities — a fact the Ronald McDonald House Charities not only knows but lives and breathes.

In 1974, the first Ronald McDonald House opened with one mission: helping families stay near their hospitalized children. Even then, co-founder Dr. Audrey Evans knew two things most didn’t, that “a family with a sick child is a sick family,” and that she could help.

Now, half a century later, RMHC has expanded to include three core programs:

  • House programs are located in the top level of hospitals throughout the world, allowing parents to stay near their hospitalized child without worrying about cost or sacrificing quality care.
  • Family Room programs offer a quiet place where families can rest and recharge just steps away from their child’s hospital room. With in-house laundry and showers, they can take a break, have a bite, and freshen up.
  • Care Mobile programs give children free preventative care, including health education and medical/dental exams.

Year after year, our work with RMHC reminds us that strong communities are built by strong support systems. That’s why in 2023, entire ICCU teams volunteered in RMHC kitchens, and ICCU supported their annual Summer Movie Series and Red Shoe Shindig Gala.

We can’t be there for every person in every moment of need, but we’re here to uplift and support families so they can. Families and friends are the foundation of community — when they grow stronger, we all do.

RMHC Community Services in Idaho and Spokane

RMHC has chapters in Boise and Spokane and the following programs in the areas we serve:

  • House programs in Boise, Coeur d’Alene, and Spokane
  • Family Room programs in Idaho Falls and Spokane

Idaho Youth Ranch: Make space for pain so joy can flourish.

As a nonprofit dedicated to providing Idaho’s youth with mental health assistance (and much more), Idaho Youth Ranch understands that slapping on a smile isn’t always the best fix.

Since 1953, they’ve provided emergency shelters, residential care, youth and family therapy, job readiness, adoption services, and more. They offer teens what many can’t: a safe place to tackle challenges like depression and trauma.

We’ve partnered with Idaho Youth Ranch for over 4 years, and in that time, we’ve gotten a first-hand look at what makes the organization so successful. They’re not afraid to talk about the Big Awfuls — the inner demons that haunt many teens’ inner worlds. They face the problem head-on, then focus on bringing joy back into the youth’s lives. Through this, they’ve taught us that happiness and pain often come hand in hand, and that neither should be ignored.

No one says it better than Scott Curtis, the nonprofit’s CEO: “Idaho Youth Ranch is all about turning adversity into resilience, knowing that it takes support to make that happen.”

IYR Services in Idaho

Idaho Youth Ranch uses revenue from their thrift shops across Idaho to help fund services like the ones below:

  • Hays House, Treasure Valley’s only 24/7 shelter for runaway or homeless youth
  • Counseling and therapy centers in Boise, Caldwell, and Coeur d’Alene (individual, family, and group sessions available)
  • Equine therapy in Caldwell and Coeur d’Alene
  • The Hands of Promise Campus in rural Treasure Valley, including the Residential Center for Healing and Resilience and the charter school Promise Academy
  • Adoption and birth-parent services throughout Idaho
  • YouthWorks in Boise, an 8-week, on-the-job paid internship that gives teens the experience they need to get future work
  • Telehealth services throughout Idaho

Stukent: There’s always more to learn.

At Idaho Central, we obviously want our members to have all the banking products and services they need to be financially successful. But our goal isn’t to just throw a bunch of tools at you — we’re here to make sure you know the foundations of financial prosperity so you can decide how to best use those tools for yourself.

That’s why we teamed up with Stukent to not only lobby for required financial literacy high school classes, but to improve the quality of those classes themselves.

Stukent is a digital courseware company that is pioneering modern education with its simulation-based curriculum. Its Personal Finance Simulation is the only simulation that lets students practice real-world financial decisions in the safety of a classroom. 

Working with them has taught us that progress begins with curiosity, with a drive to learn new things. We didn’t know the state of financial education in Idaho (or the rest of America, for that matter) until we researched it ourselves. High school teachers wouldn’t have these courses if they didn’t take the initiative to request and implement them. Stukent wouldn’t have known to team up with credit unions like us without first having the courage and curiosity to ask, “How can we make education better for students and teachers alike?”

(Read: Students are Taking Off Their Financial Training Wheels)

Stukent Education Contributions to Idaho

At Idaho Central, we are passionate about financial education, especially for our youth. We parented with Stukent to provide the simulation courseware to all high schools in Idaho and Eastern Washington, free of charge. In 2023, lifetime users of the program surpassed 200 schools and 51,000 students, establishing Idaho as a leader in personal finance education.

(Psst … Is your school taking advantage of this FREE software? See if your local high school is signed up.)

Boys and Girls Clubs of America: Even personal development can be fun.

The Boys and Girls Clubs will do whatever it takes to help kids become their best selves. They give kids a safe place to embrace their individuality and learn new things, all while offering parents some peace of mind.

They focus on six key areas:

  • Safe places
  • Mentorships
  • Mental health
  • Workforce Readiness
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Youth advocacy

The Clubs work hard to make these pillars both foundational and fun. They’re not there to lecture kids or even to simply help them; Clubs are there to help them help themselves.

The best way to do that? Make it fun.

Whenever we collaborate with The Boys and Girls Clubs, we’re reminded that progress should be enjoyed — from the first idea to the final step. These kids are working toward better futures with every day they attend the Club, but it’s more than that. They’re finding community, unlocking positive mindsets, and breaking through age-old challenges. If that’s not worth celebrating, we don’t know what is.

BGCA Community Services in Idaho and Spokane

Kids ages 6-18 have access to 30 Boys and Girls Clubs in Idaho and 3 in Spokane County. Many offer these programs and more:

  • Sports and Recreation
  • Education
  • The Arts
  • Health and Wellness
  • Workforce Readiness
  • Character and Leadership

What We’ve Learned from You: Your community is your message.

We couldn’t be prouder of our Northwest communities. The organizations in this article are only a handful of the thousands of people who are strengthening their communities both within and without organizations. These are people who don’t wait for someone to do something — they see a need and they fill it.

With every goal accomplished and every person served, Idaho and Washington show communities around the country that we care. We care about our friends, neighbors, and local businesses. We care about our nonprofits, environment, and education.

Idaho Central is only as strong as our members, and our members are making a difference. We’re beyond grateful for the inspiration and strength you give us. Every time you help your community, we’re not just standing behind you (though we’re doing that too!) — we’re taking notes.

Thank you for making Idaho, Spokane, and Idaho Central what it is today.