DUNCAN, BRITISH COLUMBIA and LANGLEY, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Oct. 27, 2014) - Vancouver Island and Gulf Island communities will have a new source of much-needed community support through the merger of First West Credit Union and Island Savings. An endowment of $2 million will be established and managed within the First West Foundation next year, with funds granted from the endowment benefiting local charities and initiatives in the communities that Island Savings serves.

"First West is absolutely committed to the growth and prosperity of communities on Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands," says Launi Skinner, CEO of First West Credit Union. "Through the creation of the Island Savings Community Endowment-the largest contribution into the First West Foundation to date-we are reinforcing that we are dedicated to acting local and empowering Islanders to make even more community investment decisions locally."

The First West Foundation is the charitable arm of First West Credit Union, with nearly $11 million in endowment funds. Originally founded in 1996, the First West Foundation welcomed Valley First in 2010 and established the Valley First Community Endowment with $1 million in funding. In March 2013, the Enderby Financial Community Endowment was established with $500,000 in funding.

In 2014, the Foundation expects to have granted more than $465,000-approximately $100,000 more than last year-to 118 projects in 25 communities served by Valley First, Enderby & District Financial and Envision Financial. The Foundation also specializes in the management of legacy funds that benefit specific community causes and organizations. To date, seven legacy funds reside within the Foundation, including the recently added Peter Bell Legacy Fund, which supports the community of Enderby.

Grants from the First West Foundation will generate funding for Island communities above and beyond ongoing community investment activities and non-profit relationships already established in the region-partnerships that saw Island Savings invest $562,000 back into Island neighbourhoods in 2013.

"This Island Savings endowment within the First West Foundation will provide support in addition to our Growing Island Families Together program," says Rod Dewar, Island Savings CEO. "This much-needed funding from the endowment complements perfectly the important work we already do for families in our communities each year, taking our ability to give back to another level."

Though the creation of a substantial endowment was reviewed early on in merger discussions, the activation of the endowment itself is pending the outcome of the Island Savings member vote on the proposed merger with First West Credit Union.

About The First West Foundation

The First West Foundation cares about the well-being of the communities served by First West Credit Union and its regional divisions, Envision Financial, Valley First, and Enderby & District Financial. The Foundation, with assets nearing $11 million uses income generated from its endowments to help improve the quality of life for British Columbians in these communities. Since its inception in 1996, the First West Foundation has donated over $3 million in grants to local community groups and projects. The Foundation grows its endowments through charitable gifts and bequests. For more information, visit firstwestfoundation.ca.

About Island Savings

Island Savings is the Islands' most recommended banking experience. As a Top 50 Best Employer and Top 30 Greenest Companies in Canada, its neighbourhood experts offer financial, insurance and investment advice and products to over 100,000 Islanders. Managing a total portfolio of $2.8 billion under administration, Island Savings is investing $15 million from 2012-2015 to expand their branch network and all service delivery platforms. Since 2010, their successful Growing Island Families Together (GIFT) program has proudly given over $7.0 million back to the community.

About First West Credit Union

First West Credit Union offers members the financial strength, comprehensive product selection and extended branch network of a large financial institution while maintaining local brand identities and a unique grassroots approach to service. Led by Launi Skinner, First West is British Columbia's third-largest credit union with $7.7 billion in assets under administration, more than 177,000 members and close to 1,300 employees. It operates 38 branches throughout the province under the Envision Financial, Valley First and Enderby & District Financial brands. Visit firstwestcu.ca for more information on First West Credit Union.

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Contact Information:

Island Savings
Melanie Tromp Hoover
Communications Specialist

First West Credit Union
Jason Brown
Manager, Public Relations & Communications