Credit, debit cards supporting U-46 schools to launch this fall
Parents, teachers and community members seeking to support Elgin Area School District U-46 and its high schools can do so with new debit and credit cards.
Through a partnership with Kane County Teachers Credit Union, the U-46 Educational Foundation will roll out "affinity cards" aligned with each of the district's five high schools next school year. The cards will bear each school's logo and color, and there also will be cards bearing U-46's logo.
The foundation will receive a portion of fees collected from merchants on each credit or debit card transaction made with these affinity cards -- 20% of fee income for debit cards and 25% of fee income for credit cards. Some credit card holders also can donate their rewards to the foundation.
The partnership aims to leverage school pride among high school families, alumni and community members while generating roughly $25,000 for the foundation in the first year based on current cardholders served through KCT. Roughly 2,700 people associated with U-46 are members of KCT, representing 2,539 debit and credit cards.
Cardholders would have to convert their existing cards into affinity cards. There's a debit card, credit card and a credit card with rewards for each high school.
Over five years, the program is estimated to generate nearly $400,000 for U-46 schools with no cost to the district, the foundation or cardholders, said Mike Lee, KCT Credit Union president and CEO.
"It's a wonderful way to raise money for a foundation," said Lee adding, the cards will help market and create more community awareness of the educational foundation.
The U-46 Educational Foundation, established in 2006, has raised and distributed roughly $500,000 to district schools, supported student scholarships and teacher innovation grants. The foundation board is working to generate more resources to support innovation and enhance student learning and well-being, President Bud Wilson said.
The U-46 school board Monday night approved the affinity card program, which has been used successfully by other districts, U-46 CEO Tony Sanders said.
KCT Credit Union partners with East Aurora District 131, West Aurora District 129 and Geneva Unit District 304 on affinity cards.
"U-46 is not a guinea pig," Lee said. "Proof of concept is there. The program works. We are starting to give them checks."
Lee said the credit union is committed to the financial wellness of district teachers and employees and was chartered for that purpose as a not-for-profit by the district in 1937.
It was named U-46's Partner of the Year in 2017-18 and donated $5,000 in 2018 to the Superintendent Scholarship Program. Its ATMs are installed at all the high schools, the district office and transportation center "as a way to give back to the community," Lee said.
People who don't use KCT Credit Union for banking can apply for the U-46 affinity cards at its three Elgin locations and Aurora, Geneva and South Elgin branches or online.
"We solicit all the employees but we also solicit the community," Lee said. "We will actually highlight this in all of our branches to try to get the community to support our school district."