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Lewis and Clark High School in the 1920's.
Lewis and Clark High School in the 1920's.
Lewis and Clark High School in the 1920's.

A bell, a shoebox, and $4,000.

Four thousand dollars pooled from a few dozen educators? A shoebox to store cash and receipts? And a bell to signal that a member was calling? 

It might not sound like much, but for nine women and one man, it was enough in 1934 to launch STCU, and a remarkable story of financial service. *

Our first president, Ernie McElvain, along with fellow founders Kate Bell, Anna Sayre, Mary Stewart, Rene McMahon, Ruth Winkley, Alice Switzer, Blanche Smith, Amy Shellman, and Christina Claussen, were educators who wanted to make access to credit unions easier.

They opened for business in October 1934 with a shoebox full of cash deposits and a tiny cubby hole of a classroom at Lewis and Clark High School.

“We hung a bell on a rope outside the second story window and ran it down to the front door,” Ernie said. “When members wanted to transact business, they'd pull on the rope and let us know they were waiting." 

From these humble beginnings, STCU has grown to more than 900 employees serving more than 280,000 members at 38 locations

STCU has become the Inland Northwest's largest and most successful credit union, but we've never forgotten our most valuable asset — our members.


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*In honor of our founders, STCU evokes the "Ernie clause," waiving our membership fee to any eligible employed educator (anyone who works at a school, college, or university) who joins the credit union. Join us today!

Photo credit: Lewis and Clark High School, 1910-1920, Spokane Public Library.