Credit unions were developed to be, essentially, more kindly forms of banking. They were intended to help people, especially working class people, manage their money, get loans, and so forth. Many still maintain these goals in their policies and actions. In the greater Seattle area, Qualstar Credit Union is doing this in part through the Edward G. Streuli Scholarship Program.

Through April 15th, 2015, high school seniors or students enrolled in a college, university, trade school, or other continuing education program can apply for one of seven $2,000 scholarships. Applicants have to write two short essays, pretty standard work for scholarships, and otherwise must either be members at Qualstar, or be the child or grandchild of a member. In either case, their account must have been open for at least a year, and in good standing.

The membership requirement might seem limiting, but remember that Qualstar is a credit union, and a local one at that, they only have a few branches and they’re restricted to the greater Seattle area. Credit unions are generally much smaller than banks. Chase can offer scholarships to students across the country, but Qualstar has to focus on their own members in their own area.

One of the questions asks what activities, outside of school, the applicant took part in during the last year. Clubs, jobs, charity work, the standard kinds of activities that the people making decisions about scholarships tend to ask.

The other question is a little more interesting, and asks applicants what they feel companies have to do in order to relate to members of their generation. Such a question asks students to think about themselves, and their peers, within the larger context of a multi-generational consumer public. It also allows Qualstar, a credit union that offers special youth accounts and a newsletter specifically for young patrons, the opportunity to hear from those youth and to adapt their own services accordingly.

It’s an interesting teachable moment, for both the applicants and the credit union.