Desert Schools Federal Credit Union announced its forthcoming year-long plan to celebrate 75 years as the largest credit union in Arizona. Deemed the Shine On campaign, the centerpiece of the plan will feature a small number of local non-profits competing for a $30,000 grand prize.

Highlighting charity organizations in six categories, the projects selected serve to better the arts, animal welfare, education, health, neighborhood beautification and youth development. Of the dozens of charity projects submitted, each group submitted a new or ongoing project for consideration and just six finalist organizations were chosen – the Assistance League of Phoenix, Anti-Defamation League, Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, Halo Animal Rescue, Kitchen on the Street and MentorKids USA. For the next nine months, each charity will vie for the $30,000 prize provided by Desert Schools, with the winner being chosen by a public vote concluding in October 2014.

“Desert Schools has always championed community involvement, and to celebrate 75 years of serving the Valley, we wanted our true focus to be the community itself,” said Susan Frank, President and CEO of Desert Schools. “Through Shine On, we intend to spotlight those charities and projects that we feel best represent our values as an organization. These six finalists are making a real, positive impact in our communities and we want to help them further these projects by bringing awareness to the larger community as a whole.”

At today’s event, each of the six charity’s projects received an initial boost in funding, and were presented with a $7,500 check from Desert Schools to initiate their project efforts. Throughout the year, the public will be encouraged to visit to vote for their favorite participating organization. The Shine On website also will feature videos and updates from the contestants as they make progress on their spotlight projects.

Anti-Defamation League, representing youth development, will utilize the funding to expand its “No Place For Hate” program to additional schools across the Valley. The program provides a framework for elementary, middle and high school students to create and maintain a culture of inclusivity and respect.

Assistance League of Phoenix, the competition’s education organization, will be competing to raise funds for its “Operation School Bell” program, which fosters self-esteem and self-confidence in children, thereby improving academic success.

Representing Shine On’s arts category, Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona runs a “Weekly Mentor” program that matches at-risk children with an adult volunteer who shares a love of the arts through weekly mentor sessions.

Halo Animal Rescue is Desert School’s choice as an advocate for animal welfare. Halo will use funding to provide medical care to animals currently in shelters, improving their chance of adoption and avoiding euthanasia.

Kitchen on the Street, representing a health organization, provides “Bags of Hope” – meals packed with protein and fiber – for underprivileged children on weekends or during times when nutritional school meals are not available.

MentorKids USA represents a neighborhood beautification group, whose project “Hope Neighborhood Garden” aims to beautify and build community connectedness in an at-risk South Phoenix neighborhood.

In addition to the $30,000 charity project competition, Desert Schools has pledged to give back more than $1 million to the community in 2014. The Shine On campaign will also introduce a variety of new commercial, radio and digital spots to Desert Schools’ marketing efforts. These new spots will feature an exclusive Shine On campaign song titled “Change With We,” that praises the results that come from working together in a collective effort to give back to the community.

Shine On voters and DSFCU members can also join in the fun and will have the opportunity to win a portion of $75,000 in giveaways and monthly prizes, culminating with a grand prize giveaway in at the Shine On wrap up event January 2015, featuring a brand new 2015 Chevy Camaro for one lucky winner. Shine On’s charity competition winner will also be announced at this event. For more information on Shine On, the spotlight charity projects and tips on getting involved, visit

For videos, images and more information on Shine On and the six spotlight charities, visit, and enter username ShineOnPress, password DesertSchools.