Tucoemas helps employees access higher education

(Rigo Moran)

Credit union creates multiple paths to pursue higher education, opportunities and life skills for their employees who might not have access to it otherwise

VISALIA – Tucoemas is enhancing its commitment to employee education and community involvement through a partnership with a university, offering scholarships and educational opportunities.

Tucoemas has extended its efforts to increase its staff’s access to education and, overall, their contributions to the community. To accomplish this, the credit union partnered with Grand Canyon University to provide scholarships and greater access to education to its employees.

The credit union also played a pivotal role in helping fund several scholarships for the College of the Sequoias, furthering educational opportunities for residents, according to the news release of this announcement.

“I realized how there’s a direct correlation between poverty and a lack of education…helping people get an education helps lift them out of poverty,” Tucoemas CEO Brice Yocum said. ”There’s so many benefits that come with (higher education) that we wanted our team to at least have that opportunity.”

The credit union places a priority on employee growth, offering frequent training and certification opportunities, according to the release. In the past six years, Tucoemas has helped to foster three bachelor’s and two master’s degrees for its team members, with an additional 12 employees currently pursuing their degrees.

Not only does the company provide a path to pursue higher education that is more financially accessible, but it provides flexible work hours that make education more accessible as well. Tucoemas allows employees in the program to have scheduled study breaks at work to make sure they have time to prioritize school.

It doesn’t end there, either, as taking classes with Grand Canyon University is not the only opportunity employees get to increase their training and education.

“If folks in the organization think getting their bachelor’s degree isn’t in their wheelhouse, or isn’t what they’re comfortable with, then we try to connect them internally with programs at Cornell or USC, or other established institutions of higher education, and then sponsor them to go through different leadership development programs.” Yocum said.

According to Yocum, the program started right after he became the CEO of the company. He was having a conversation about the need for higher education in the Valley with someone he knew working at Grand Canyon University, and through that connection, was able to set up a long-term partnership.

“They’ve really excelled at…in my experience, providing education for working adults,” Yocum said. “It was just a really good fit.”

There is also assistance in paying back student loans and paying tuition for employees who are interested and committed to pursuing higher leadership roles at Tucoemas.

Tucoemas is also actively involved in the Neighborhood Degree program, whose mission is to “move Visalia forward, one student at a time.” This program helps students prepare for a degree after High School with the ultimate goal of transforming their sphere of influence. As noted in the release, “this is another way Tucoemas invests in creating a brighter future for Visalia and its residents.”

The credit union also puts a high importance on financial literacy, and offers a free financial education program called “Pathways to Financial Freedom.” The program incentivizes low-income residents of Tulare County to meet with a certified financial counselor for three months, with $300 they can use to apply for a secured credit card. The program then helps them set up a budget and meet once a month while participants build their credit.

“What it does is, we actually incentivize people financially to go through about a three-month program that is led by one of our certified financial counselors, and they develop goals and a budget to reduce that or to increase their savings,” Yocum told The Sun-Gazette in April.

Through this program, Tucoemas has sponsored 12 team members to become certified financial counselors to further support financial security in the Valley.

These initiatives focused on education and community development, are one of the factors that went into Tucoemas Federal Credit Union being certified as a Great Place to Work for two consecutive years. As Visalia faces educational challenges, Tucoemas stands to actively support education, empowerment and the communities it serves.

“Within the walls of Tucoemas, education isn’t just encouraged – it’s invested in,” Tucoemas said via press release.

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