Santa Cruz Community Credit Union
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Second annual RETURN THE FAVOR giving campaign supports 12 local non-profits

The Santa Cruz Community Credit Union (SCCCU) Board of Directors approved a matching gift program to support 12 non-profit organizations in Santa Cruz County. For every dollar people donate to one of these non-profit organizations, the Credit Union will match that gift up to $75,000.

The Santa Cruz Community Credit Union (SCCCU) Board of Directors approved a matching gift program to support 12 local non-profit organizations in Santa Cruz County. For every dollar people donate to one of these non-profit organizations, the Credit Union would match that gift up to $75,000 (total for all organizations). But recently, this match was met in just six short weeks!

Return the Favor logo

“Building upon last year’s RETURN THE FAVOR campaign, we’re continuing our focus to help those most vulnerable in our community. Our collective efforts to provide much-needed support to our local non-profit organizations will give substantial relief to so many in need,” stated Beth Carr, President/CEO of SCCCU.

“We’re grateful for the generosity of our Board of Directors for providing this opportunity this year. We have so many wonderful community members who give freely to so many important causes and organizations,” explained Carr.

PLEASE NOTE: At this time, the match has been met; however, please continue to donate to these worthy organizations.

12 Participating Non-Profit Organizations with an Aligned Mission

The Credit Union selected 12 non-profit organizations to participate in this year’s campaign, which runs through November 30, 2021. Here is a list of the participating non-profit organizations:

  • Community Action Board (CAB)
  • Community Bridges
  • Diversity Center
  • El Pájaro CDC
  • Grey Bears
  • Housing Matters
  • Homeless Garden Project
  • Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes
  • Pajaro Valley Shelter Services
  • SC Volunteer Center
  • Second Harvest Food Bank
  • Valley Churches United

Every organization aligns closely with the Credit Union’s mission to provide economic justice for all and further supports service access needs in our community.

“The Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Inc. (CAB) is honored to be selected by the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union to be part of its 2021 RETURN THE FAVOR Campaign,” explained Helen Ewan-Storey, CAB Assistant Director. “As the County’s designated Community Action Agency with a mission to eliminate poverty and create social change through advocacy and essential services as well as a vision of a thriving, equitable and diverse community for over 50 years, CAB feels strongly aligned with the mission and values of SCCCU and its members.”

Willy Elliott-McCrea, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County, stated, “With food insecurity increasing almost 50% since the pandemic, the RETURN THE FAVOR campaign is crucial to assist our neighbors experiencing food insecurity. Santa Cruz Community Credit Union continues to be a great partner with Second Harvest, and we are more than grateful they have included us in their campaign.”

Serving the Unbanked and Underserved is Critical to Our Community’s Economic Well-Being

“We have a strategic Member Access Plan to provide affordable financial services to all in our community. Each of these organizations assists in that effort by providing the most vulnerable in our community with basic human needs (food, water, or shelter) and other critical support for each person’s well-being,” stated Carr.

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Why is serving the unbanked and underserved so important? Consider this example:

When Alicia immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, she had excellent credit and a solid financial background. But, unfortunately, her financial history went unrecognized in the United States. Without a Social Security number, she couldn’t access essential financial services, such as a checking account or credit card, which limited her ability to provide for her most basic needs and meet her financial goals.

Alicia is not alone — millions of Americans face a similar uphill battle. In 2019, the Federal Reserve reported that an estimated 6% of American adults (or about 15 million people) were unbanked, meaning they don’t use accounts you’d find at a financial institution (checking, savings, or loans). And another 16% of American adults are underbanked, meaning they have a traditional banking account but still use alternative financial services.

Santa Cruz Community Credit Union

Unfortunately, these numbers are worse in communities also experiencing income inequality and other social injustices. For example, African American (16.9%) and Latinx (14%) households are around five times as likely to go unbanked than White households (3%). And the story gets worse when you look at income level. On average, 19% of households with a family income of less than $30,000 are unbanked, significantly higher than households making more than $30,000.

Without access to safe and affordable financial services, the unbanked and underserved population use alternative ways to complete routine financial tasks — cashing checks, buying with credit, and more. Unfortunately, this leads to predatory lending, high fees, and other expenses that leave many living paycheck-to-paycheck without any hope of reaching their financial goals. It’s a vicious cycle that is tough to get out of without financial assistance—and can be detrimental to building a thriving economy.


As a government-certified Community Development and low-income Credit Union, SCCCU offers services to help the unbanked and underserved achieve their financial goals.

“We just launched a new LIFT Loan program, which is our alternative to Payday loans. These are short-term loans to help you fill in the gaps if you need cash,” stated Katie Fairbairn, VP of Communications and Organizational Development at SCCCU. “Along with our DACA loans and bilingual online financial education, we’re continually taking steps to reach out to those most vulnerable in our community. Additionally, we use grant funds to develop affordable housing and other financial assistance programs for our members.”

And this is just the beginning of more things to come. In 2019, SCCCU made a strategic decision to downsize and sell its Santa Cruz branch and relocate to a smaller space downtown. The funds from the sale of the building will help them expand upon its core mission to provide more financial access for people in Santa Cruz County—specifically to the unbanked and underserved.

We’re committed to our mission of providing economic justice for all. Everything we do filters through that lens...

— Beth Carr, President/CEO of SCCCU

“We’re committed to our mission of providing economic justice for all. Everything we do filters through that lens,” stated Carr. “Now, with the recent sale of our downtown Santa Cruz building, we’ll have more opportunities to reach out to those most vulnerable in our community. When we lower the percentage of the unbanked and underserved in our community, we improve the financial well-being of each household and build a more robust economy for all to enjoy. We believe economic justice for all is worth the effort.”

Santa Cruz Community Credit Union

RETURN THE FAVOR is Just One Way to Help

Imagine how it would be if everyone in our community had the food and shelter needed to feel safe and secure? And, taking that one step further, the Credit Union’s goal is to provide everyone with access to affordable financial services needed to live comfortably.

RETURN THE FAVOR is just one step in the right direction—but great things usually happen by taking one step.

“THANK YOU/MIL GRACIAS for supporting Community Action Board to provide youth and adult employment assistance and mentoring, homelessness prevention and intervention, community building, and immigration legal and advocacy services to over 10,000 low-income community members this year. Your support helps us build a thriving and more equitable community for all,” explained Ewan-Storey.

Easy to Donate and Give Back to the Community
  • Donate online
    Learn more about the RETURN THE FAVOR giving campaign, or make a donation. The Credit Union will accept donations through November 30, 2021.
  • Donate in person
    Stop by any SCCCU branch to help support the Return the Favor campaign

Every donation made to the RETURN THE FAVOR campaign either goes directly to your selected non-profit organization or to a general fund that distributes money evenly to all of the organizations in the campaign.

“We’d like to encourage everyone to join us in donating to one of these participating non-profit organizations. Our goal is to return the favor so each organization can continue to thrive and provide much-needed support to our community,” said Carr.

Become a SCCCU Member
  • General
    Learn more about SCCCU’s Member Access Plan
    Click to learn more about the ways SCCCU’s Member Access Plan is designed to increase equity and access.