When Maine Savings Federal Credit Union unveiled its Black Bear Debit Card in 2014, the institution pledged to donate a minimum of $50,000 to the University of Maine’s Black Bear Fund during the course of the five-year deal.

The program appears headed toward making an even more significant impact on UMaine student-athletes.

Barely 19 months into the arrangement signed with Black Bear Sports Properties, which manages the multimedia rights for UMaine athletics, Maine Savings already has generated nearly $29,000, according to Maine Savings Vice President of Marketing Kirk Duke.

“If we had set very lofty, overly ambitious goals, I don’t think we would have set them even where we are now,” Duke said of the money raised. “I think it has gone beyond what we would ever have dreamed and, in that sense, it’s a terrific success.”

Through the Black Bear Debit Card program, Maine Savings donates 5 cents to the Black Bear Fund with every purchase made with the card.

Last fall, Maine Savings announced that it had generated $13,774.55 for the Black Bear Fund during the first year. The effort has gained momentum since then, having raised $15,006.21 during the first seven months of the second year.

UMaine athletics director Karlton Creech could not be reached for comment.

There are 2,033 Maine Savings members currently using the Black Bear Debit Card.

“I think it has worked very well for the Black Bear Fund and, therefore, for university athletics,” Duke said. “And it’s been very successful for us. We’ve seen a lot of excitement around it.”

Duke explained that Maine Savings is a proponent of the value of athletics, and thus was pleased to be able to support UMaine’s programs with the debit card arrangement.

“We think that sports is a good way to learn a lot of things: Discipline, teamwork, leadership,” Duke said. “We think there’s a genuine benefit there.”

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...