Topeka CUs Use Proceeds To Start Foundation

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Leaders from six area credit unions have created the Topeka Credit Union Foundation to help support local non-profit groups using money collected from the dissolution of the Topeka Credit Bureau.

Mark Bezdek, president/CEO of Credit Union 1 of Kansas, said the group pooled its shares and collected more money from other Kansas credit unions to form the non-profit that will support various charities in the coming years.

"We were trying to decide what we wanted to do with all that money and knew there was a need in the community,'' he said.

In August, the Housing and Credit Counseling, Inc., The Capper Foundation, and the Topeka Rescue Mission became the first three recipients of TCUF's goodwill efforts, each receiving checks for $2,500 to support their causes.

The 90-year-old credit bureau shut down last fall citing competition from agencies that offer their services direct to consumers rather than through local credit bureaus. Experian Inc. purchased its reporting business and the Hollins Law Firm of Topeka bought the collections business.

Finally, after selling off furniture and retaining $45,000 for liquidation purposes, the bureau was left with $965,000 available for distribution to 115 shareholders.

Among them, Community America Credit Union, Credit Union 1 of Kansas, Credit Unions United, Educational Credit Union, Kansas Blue Cross Blue Shield Credit Union and Super Chief Credit Union.

Each share was worth $2,823 and each shareholder had one to five shares. Some shareholders pocketed their shares while others put theirs back into their businesses. Still more handed their money over to other charitable trusts for distribution.

In December, the board of directors for the Credit Bureau of Topeka recommended giving the money to the Washburn Endowment Association.

The CUs instead decided to create their own organization using their funds as seed money and pledging to make financial contributions for five years.

Century Credit Union, Topeka City Employee Credit Union and Topeka Police Credit Union also signed on to participate.

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