The Power of a Dollar

By Jama Campbell, SECU Foundation Executive Director

Jama Campbell, SECU Foundation Executive Director

For almost 20 years, members of State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) have exemplified the cooperative spirit of the credit union industry and are making a tremendous impact in our community through the SECU Foundation. Finding causes that are important to members and giving back to the communities we serve is a trademark of credit unions—it’s a meaningful exercise to undertake and one we fully embrace.

In 2004, the SECU Board of Directors put into motion what has become one of the most successful foundations in the state of North Carolina—the uniquely-funded SECU Foundation. Grounded in a “People Helping People®” philosophy, the foundation is funded by SECU members who have their $1 monthly checking account maintenance fee allocated to SECU Foundation. While this individual amount is small, we’ve seen what incredible things can be done through the collective “Power of a Dollar!”

SECU Foundation was created to promote local community development in the areas of housing, education, healthcare and human services. The foundation’s work is about more than writing a check—it’s helping to identify and address community issues that are beyond the normal scope of SECU. With members’ support, SECU Foundation has been able to give back through educational scholarships, cancer centers, hospice houses and affordable housing projects statewide. That only touches the surface: to date, SECU Foundation has made a commitment of over $235 million for projects that are delivering hope and changing lives.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, SECU Foundation stepped in—just as our entire industry did—to provide North Carolina non-profits with COVID-19 disaster relief grants. As we worked to fill those needs, many gaps were exposed. We saw the escalation of a mental health crisis, and this rose to the top of our priority list going forward. Here are a few of the many projects that address this important issue:

  • One Place – SECU Foundation’s support enabled this Onslow County non-profit to move forward with the construction of the SECU Hope Center, a child advocacy and resource facility that will include a mental health clinic with onsite medical services to assist victims of physical and sexual abuse and human trafficking. Dawn Rochelle, One Place CEO, shares her appreciation for the community support: “We are honored to work with SECU Foundation in building the SECU Hope Center to further our mission to connect all children and their families to programs and resources that provide opportunities and hope.”
  • Club Nova – This Orange County non-profit received assistance to help build a larger mental health support facility, offering increased space for community programs, a career center and crisis intervention training. “We express our deepest gratitude to SECU Foundation for believing in Club Nova’s mission to provide hope and opportunities to individuals living with serious mental illness, helping them to lead meaningful lives of their choice in the community,” said Club Nova Executive Director Karen Kincaid-Dunn.
  • UNC Health Foundation – SECU Foundation teamed with UNC Health Foundation for the development and implementation of a school-based virtual health program for NC public school students to reduce barriers for psychiatric care through telehealth services. Wesley Burks, MD, CEO of UNC Health and Dean of the UNC School of Medicine, remarked, “We are proud to work with SECU Foundation and grateful for their investment in the mental and behavioral health of children in our state.”
  • Monarch – With help from SECU Foundation, this Charlotte non-profit reached their dream of opening the SECU Youth Crisis Center, the first of its kind in North Carolina dedicated to addressing the mental health needs of area youth and their families. Monarch President and CEO Dr. Peggy Terhune said, “This facility and the collaboration of so many amazing partners is an example of the way a community can work together to provide the necessary care for individuals with very complex needs. We are extremely grateful to SECU members for their support of this project.”

Collectively, these organizations received over $5 million to advance their valuable work. For other credit unions and foundations interested in learning more about our efforts and seeing how you could have a bigger impact in your community, visit to learn more about SECU Foundation.