Summit Credit Union (Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin), like all cooperatives, was born of the idea that by pooling resources, members could accomplish amazing things that would be nearly impossible to do on their own.

Every day our combined resources finance our members’ dreams, each one of them a story in itself. Our funds are put to use in member homes, businesses, education, vehicles and more, strengthening and building our local communities every day. We are not surprised when we hear comments like this one from one of our members, “I simply align with the member owned, not-for-profit nature of credit unions.”

At Summit, we think the idea of Doing More Together is a pretty darn good one. In fact, we’re committed to taking it to a whole new level. And here are a few mini-stories about that:

• In 2005, inside the Boys & Girls Clubs in Madison, Wisconsin, we established STAR (Saving to Achieve Results), the world’s only youth-chartered credit union. The credit union is run by the youth, enabling them to develop both financial and work skills.

• In 2010, Summit turned a multi-unit foreclosure into an opportunity to do more for the community. Through a partnership with community agencies, four families achieved housing stability and now have a permanent place to call home. In addition to subsidizing rent for the property, Summit covers all the building’s utilities, insurance and maintenance costs.

• Our Do More Team goes out and creates random acts of awesome with the purpose of brining smiles, connecting neighbors and making our communities happier places. They’ve provided shoveling in a snow storm, flowers to people at the farmer’s market, hung money on a tree to be spent at local businesses, delivered popsicles on a very hot day in Madison, and more.

• Through our Project Money challenge, a natural extension of our commitment to be a trusted financial guide to our members, participating members have saved money and reduced debt by tens of thousands of dollars. One Project money recipient said, “Our entire future has a brighter outlook. . . we’ll soon have all our debt paid off.”

• We also encourage the sharing of wealth. Our Pay It Forward program asks people what they would do if given $10 to share. Then we give them the $10 and they report what they did with it on the Summit website to spread the joy.

Through our efforts, we hope to inspire our members and communities to do more to make their lives and their communities better.

We’ve also made concerted efforts to reach out to other cooperatives. Early in 2011, we began to explore ways to spark more interaction among cooperatives of all types.

“In April, we held a luncheon for all the area cooperatives we could contact,” says Carrie O’Connor, senior vice president of business services and development. “We brainstormed about how to work together.” All co-op representatives said they faced the challenge of explaining co-ops to the community-at-large, as well as members and board members.”

So Summit Credit Union sponsored the first ever Co-op Connection, a first step in bringing a variety of co-ops together for a public event. Since then, co-op collaboration has continued and we’re planning Co-op Connection 2012.

Helping communities thrive, Summit reaches out to its fellow co-ops in additional ways. For instance, we loaned funds to a technical assistance co-op startup that helps small farmers better market and sell their products.

And we made loans to housing co-ops and to a grocery co-op opening a second store. “In the past couple of years, we’ve increased our focus on offering business services to cooperatives,” said O’Connor. We have 96 cooperatives, including credit unions, on our membership roster.

Summit serves 122,974 members from 24 locations, encouraging our members to “Do More. Start Here.”