Community Choice Credit Union Foundation Commits More Than $500,000 to End Michigan Brain Drain

Share Article

Credit Union's Foundation Provides Innovative Scholar Program for Students Who Pledge to Give Back to Michigan Communities.

2013 Community Choice Credit Union Foundation Scholar, Kate Yuhas

Kate Yuhas, a 2013 Community Choice Scholar, wants to lead Michigan's revival.

“Though things may look bleak now, I see a shining future," said Yuhas. "But this can only be achieved if the young and educated choose Michigan to settle down, start a family, and build a life instead of leaving en masse."

Community Choice Credit Union announced that its foundation has eclipsed $500,000 in scholarships made available to students committed to ending Michigan’s brain drain. The Credit Union, with over $500 million in assets and serving eight counties in Michigan, launched its foundation in 2009 with the purpose of providing scholarships that encourage growth and investment in Michigan. Michigan’s bran drain is a growing problem with a 6.17 percent loss of the state’s population with college degrees between 2000 and 2009; the largest drop among all 50 states.

“The Community Choice Foundation was created in 2009 with the thought that the Credit Union can use its position in our communities as a means to create positive change,” said Robert Bava, President & CEO of Community Choice Credit Union. “In the spirit of credit unions, which are people helping people, the Community Choice Foundation has provided over $500,000 in financial assistance to our scholars who are committed to giving back to their Michigan communities. We are proud to be a part of a growing movement to retain Michigan’s best and brightest.”

The Foundation’s focus coincides with efforts from a variety of Michigan politicians who are also seeking solutions to end the state’s brain drain. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, introduced House Bill 4182 which would provide tax credits to students who attend accredited colleges in Michigan and stay in Michigan after their college studies. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has expressed a desire to fix Michigan’s brain-drain in his State of the State Addresses and through partnerships with business leaders, like Dan Gilbert.

On May 9, Community Choice announced at its awards ceremony that the 2013 scholars from Southeast Michigan are receiving scholarships totaling $100,000. The 2013 scholars add to a network of more than 100 Community Choice Scholars committed to helping Michigan. All of the scholars named below will attend an accredited college in Michigan and pledge to use their education to give back to Michigan.

  •     Alwin David, from Livonia, will attend the University of Michigan
  •     Amanda Schwartz, from Huntington Woods, will attend the University of Michigan
  •     Andrew Piontkowski, from Sterling Heights, will attend the University of Michigan
  •     Brandi Ledbetter, from Shelby Township, will attend Kalamazoo College
  •     Caitlyn Thelen, from South Lyon, will attend the University of Michigan
  •     Casey Rhines, from Livonia, will attend the University of Detroit Mercy
  •     Gregory Thelen, from Lake Orion, will attend Michigan Technological University
  •     Jane Modes, from Livonia, will attend the University of Michigan
  •     Jenna Sperling, from West Bloomfield, will attend the University of Michigan
  •     Kate Yuhas, from Brighton, will attend the University of Michigan
  •     Lauren Krzisnik from Oxford, will attend the University of Michigan
  •     Luke Roggenkamp from Brighton, will attend the University of Michigan
  •     Megan Macciomei, from Shelby Township, will attend Michigan State University
  •     Melissa Oudeh, from Westland, will attend Michigan State University
  •     Mohamed Ghandour, from Dearborn, will attend the University of Michigan
  •     Nicolette Pietron, from Royal Oak, will attend, Eastern Michigan University
  •     Noor Shammout, from Dearborn Heights, will attend Wayne State University
  •     Trevor Franzen, from Shelby Township, will attend Oakland University
  •     Zied Shammout, from Dearborn Heights, will attend the University of Michigan

“Being in an environment that is familiar to me like the University of Michigan, where I plan to attend, will make me be more comfortable and focused in trying to achieve my future goals in the field of medicine,” said David. “The industries in Michigan are starting to pick up like automotive, pharmaceutical, and alternative energy, making this a prime location to open a practice and give back to the growing community that will be here.”

“Unlike the national media, I haven’t given up hope on my home state,” said Yuhas. “Though things may look bleak now, I see a shining future. But this can only be achieved if the young and educated choose Michigan to settle down, start a family, and build a life instead of leaving en masse. We can only achieve our potential if we stop longing for the glory of the past, and instead look towards how we can adapt to this ever-changing world. Technology is Michigan’s future and as an engineer, I hope to be a part of that future.”

The Credit Union saw the biggest response since offering the scholarships with 335 applicants who applied this year. Criteria for selection of the winners included: GPA, volunteer service, a commitment to attend an accredited college in Michigan, a pledge to utilize each individual’s education to give back to Michigan communities, and county of residence. Credit Union team members demonstrated an increased commitment to the scholar program, with nearly $5,000 donated last year, effectively providing one scholarship to a 2013 scholar.

On May 9, Credit Union and Foundation Officials were joined by legislators and school officials to celebrate the scholar’s achievements and award them their scholarships. The celebration featured keynote speaker Stephanie Bergeron, President and CEO of Walsh College.

“I admire the focus of Community Choice Foundation scholarships: keeping our best and brightest students in Michigan,” said Bergeron. “This pioneering effort to curtail the brain drain and promote Michigan’s success is exactly the right educational initiative.”

Credit Union Celebrates Give Big Philosophy:

Scholarships are just one part of a larger charitable effort by Community Choice. The Credit Union concluded 2012 by providing more than $211,000 to community programs, including direct donations, Community Choice Foundation scholarships, team member financial and volunteer contributions, plus member and vendor donations. Team members contributed 2,443 volunteer hours in 2012 to community service and volunteerism opportunities. Community Choice offers a volunteer reimbursement program effectively providing each team member the opportunity to volunteer 24 paid hours throughout local communities each year.

“Some time ago we realized the sum of what we could achieve as a Credit Union team would eclipse by far what we could achieve as individuals,” said Bava. “Community Choice team members now collectively give back to local communities. Efforts started out small but we gave as much as we could. With the recession of 2008, the world faced a tremendous challenge and we did our part to ease the pain that many were facing. I’m happy to say that the “Give Big” spirit and philosophy has grown exponentially at Community Choice since that time to create a huge impact in Michigan each year. The Give Big spirit is one of our core values and is evident throughout the year.”

About Community Choice Credit Union: Established in 1935, Community Choice Credit Union offers a wide variety of financial products and services for both consumers and businesses. Any individual who lives, works, or worships in the following counties is eligible to become a member owner of Community Choice Credit Union: Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw or Wayne County, Michigan. Since 2008, through the Community Choice Foundation, the Credit Union has invested more than $500,000 and 8,000 volunteer hours into its charitable Give Big efforts throughout Michigan. For more information, visit CommunityChoiceCUFoundation.com.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Jeffrey DiGiannantonio

Paula Piccinini
Follow us on
Visit website