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Partnership between WSECU and Hands On Children’s Museum - Press Release

June 5, 2019

Inspired Learning for All Partnership Between WSECU and Hands On Children’s Museum

June 5, 2019 (Olympia, WA) – WSECU’s Inspired Learning for All partnership with the Hands On Children's Museum is unique in the credit union industry. It’s a naming rights initiative that leaves the stadiums and sports teams on the sidelines; instead, the credit union developed a significant partnership with Washington State’s premier children’s museum that delivers value to the credit union, its members and, especially, low-income families.

The centerpiece of the partnership is a special offer of free admission to the first two family members receiving Washington State basic food assistance through an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card. Additional family guests pay just $2 each. General admission to the museum is otherwise $14.95.

Since the five-year $1.1 million sponsorship began in February, 2017, more than 40,000 children and their families have enjoyed access to the museum through the discount program.

“The success of Inspired Learning for All, which has helped open the museum doors to so many families, is reason to celebrate,” said WSECU Board Chair Doug Mah. “WSECU took a naming rights opportunity and turned it into so much more.”

Museum Executive Director Patty Belmonte reports impressive numbers. In its first year, about 12,500 visited under the EBT card access program. Numbers for 2018 topped that by about 60 percent, with more than 20,000 low-income guests served last year coming from all around western Washington. The numbers continue to grow in 2019.

“In its first half, this partnership has been transformational for the museum and for thousands of families,” Belmonte said. “Thanks to WSECU’s investment, Hands On achieved an important milestone to become a national ‘Museum for All’.” The Museum for All designation is presented by the Association of Children's Museums and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to recognize museums that encourage families of all backgrounds to visit regularly and build lifelong learning habits.

Without a doubt, the museum is a special place to any child who visits. As one parent shared with the museum, “My children love this museum and I would not be able to bring them without the [EBT] program. I believe this place to be so important for the children, parents, and the community and I am grateful to be able to come.” Another visitor wrote, “I'm in school full time and a single mom, so money is tight and being able to bring my boys for free means everything.”

From its inception, the “Inspired Learning for All” partnership has been more for the credit union than a simple sponsorship. If offers a chance to support meaningful programming that can be transformative for families of young children.

“To be associated with a premier institution like the museum has value in itself,” Mah added. But the primary reason WSECU invested in Inspired Learning for All was to support early learning for the families that may have the most to gain from visiting.” Research repeatedly shows early childhood education, which often looks like play, is essential to a strong foundation for later academic success.

The partnership between WSECU and HOCM has other components. In addition to the special EBT cardholder admission, the credit union’s investments support expanded mobile education programs and subsidized field trips for schools with large low-income populations.

While expanding the benefits of museum access to more families is at the heart of the naming partnership, there is also considerable marketing value the credit union receives from the partnership. WSECU receives top tier naming recognition on the building, in social media, on tens of thousands of emails, and on hundreds of collateral pieces each year that reach broadly throughout Western Washington and beyond.

Finally, it also brings value to those who are WSECU members. Credit union members receive a 10 percent discount on museum memberships and a 50 percent discount on “WSECU Wednesdays,” held the first Wednesday of each month.

Mah noted that it was important for WSECU to design the major partnership in a way that had multiple benefits for the credit union, including marketing exposure, member benefits and, mostly importantly, significant community impact.

“We are thankful for the collaboration and partnership of WSECU with Inspired Learning for All,” said Belmonte. “Our organizations’ shared values and commitment to investing in the success of the whole community is making a meaningful difference in children’s lives.”

WSECU is an Olympia-based, not-for-profit credit union open to all Washington residents with a special emphasis on serving those who embrace the values of giving, sharing and supporting their communities. WSECU has 260,000 members, 21 branches, and $3 billion in assets. It commits 4 percent of its annual net income to invest back into the communities it serves through partnerships with education and other nonprofit institutions.

About Hands On Children’s Museum
The Hands On Children’s Museum is Washington’s largest children’s museum, serving more than 325,000 visitors annually, and stimulating curiosity, creativity and learning through fun, interactive exhibits and programs for children, families and school groups. It has routinely won local, regional and national awards both as a cultural destination and as the provider of effective educational programming.

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