Downriver Community Federal Credit Union is not your typical financial institution. With educational programs and a new user-friendly mobile application, DCFCU is living up to their motto, “make money simple.”

We try to look at everything we do as ‘how are we helping our members

Mark Tremper

Founded in 1942, DCFCU (known at the time as Great Lakes Steelworkers Federal Credit Union) originally provided financial services to local steelworkers and quickly established itself as a community staple. In 1982, DCFCU changed its name and its image, expanding its services to include the entire Downriver population.

DCFCU started in a small union hall, but has now grown to include branches in Wyandotte, Lincoln Park and Woodhaven, in addition to its main location in Ecorse.

It’s a common misconception that if you join a credit union, you’ll only be able to get service from specific locations. Mark Tremper, vice president of marketing and community development at DCFCU, says that’s just not the case.

“Number one, we have remote deposit. If you want to deposit checks, you can use our mobile app, but we also have over 40 to 50 thousand ATMs nationwide at no charge ,” Tremper says. “The big name one is 7/11.”

Their mobile app is a recent addition for DCFCU. Like many finance-based mobile apps, it allows you to check your account(s) and deposit money, but you can also send people money with just the recipient’s name and phone number.

Tremper specifically likes the ‘Card Valet’ feature: “If you are making a purchase with your debit card, it will immediately notify you if your card has been used,” Tremper says. “It will help prevent fraud in case somebody stole your card.”

Using ‘Card Valet’ you can turn the card on and off depending on the circumstance. You can even limit the places where your debit card can be used. For instance, if your teenager has his/her own debit card, you can make sure he/she can only use it at a gas station. This feature could also be used if your a business owner, and you have a company card.

DCFCU is not only trying to help you manage your money with technology, it sponsors programs that help younger generations improve their financial literacy.

One of these programs is Banzai, an online course dedicated to teaching high school students how to handle financial responsibilities such as writing a check or finding the insurance you need.

“The program is free for Downriver high schools, as the credit union pays for the course, Tremper says. “It helps kids realize how real life is.”

In addition to the online course, DCFCU runs a bully prevention program for the elementary schools.

“We bring in a bully prevention expert. [The schools] typically organize an assembly where he performs his ventriloquism. He has lots of different puppets,” Tremper says. “Kids love it!”

For businesses, DCFCU offers a ‘Grow Your Business’ workshop, which has been active since 2008, and is held on the third Wednesday each month. It’s free for DCFCU members and it’s an opportunity for business owners and employees to network and enjoy breakfast.

Along with the various programs DCFCU offers, they also have scholarships for high school students wishing to further their education. They offer eight $1,000 scholarships. All you have to do is become a member of DCFCU from at least the December the prior year.

“It’s all about helping people, as opposed to just doing business,” Tremper says. “We’re pretty simple, we look at everything we do as ‘how are we helping our members.’”

Tremper references the credit union’s motto, “Provide simple access to resources that will help our members accomplish great things at every stage of their lives.”

DCFCU has four pillars that encompass the responsibilities and features they offer to members. The pillars are: Save, Borrow, Access, and Grow.

Save refers to savings accounts; Borrow to the various types of loans they offer; Access to the mobile app and the flexibility the credit union helps you as far as your finances; and Grow, refers to community engagement.

Tremper believes these pillars help differentiate Downriver Community Federal Credit Union from other financial institutions in the area, and it helps remind them why they are in business.

Tremper says, “It’s all about helping the Downriver community. It’s in our name!”