OLD TOWN, Maine — Maine Savings Federal Credit Union began celebrating the grand opening of its new Stillwater Avenue branch on Monday by announcing a gift of at least $50,000 to the University of Maine athletics department.
Maine Savings Federal Credit Union President and CEO John Reed revealed that Maine Savings has entered into a five-year agreement during which each transaction using the credit union’s new Black Bear Debit Card will result in a donation to UMaine’s Black Bear Fund.
“What it’ll basically boil down to is a nickel every time someone swipes their card,” said Reed, who earned two degrees from UMaine. “If you do the math and you start adding a few thousand cards, then all of a sudden the contribution to the Black Bear Fund just goes through the roof.”
Maine Savings will contribute a minimum of $10,000 per year to the fund, but Reed expects to exceed that figure as the use of the debit cards increases.
“We are truly grateful for this incredible partnership between Maine Savings and the University of Maine Department of Athletics,” said UMaine athletics director Karlton Creech, who called the arrangement unique.
He said it aligns closely with some of the university’s goals in connecting with businesses and fans across eastern Maine and the state.
“A big emphasis for me and for our department is community engagement,” Creech said.
“This is a great, tangible way to be engaged not only in the local business community, but the city of Old Town and all the members of the Maine Savings credit union who live throughout our location,” he added.
The Black Bear Fund is UMaine’s official athletics fundraising arm. While the fund supports athletics in numerous areas, Maine Savings’ donations will be used specifically for student-athlete scholarships.
“We’re thrilled to support UMaine athletics and the scholar-athletes that compete on behalf of all of us that cheer them on,” said Reed, who pointed out that scholarships account for a large percentage of the athletics budget.
Maine Savings has been a corporate sponsor of UMaine athletics for several years, but the construction of a new branch only a mile up College Avenue from the campus opened the door for the credit union to renew and expand its commitment.
“This program really helped us reinvent the partnership,” said Andrew Steubner, the general manager of Black Bear Sports Properties, which manages the multimedia rights for UMaine athletics.
“That’s what they were searching for, something that was more interactive that was going to help their business model and have a more direct tie, a straight donation to the student-athletes,” he added.
Reed said the initiative is indicative of the respect and appreciation he and Maine Savings Federal Credit Union have for UMaine, where he and some of his top executives attended college.
He said his employees often speak to students on campus and that Maine Savings has provided opportunities for students to conduct special projects for the credit union.
“I truthfully have felt strongly in my own personal career that I wanted to give back to the university somehow,” Reed said. “I’ve positioned myself so that I’m able to do that with a facility like this [new branch] and what we offer the university.”