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Ascentra Credit Union Donates $50k to Friends of MLK for MLK Park Project

Bettendorf, IA – In conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 16, 2023, Ascentra Credit Union and its foundation, the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation has pledged to donate a total of $50,000 to the Friends of MLK (FoMLK) organization in Davenport, Iowa. This donation will help them reach their fundraising goal for the first formal memorial of Dr. Martin Luther King (MLK) Jr. in the City of Davenport, known as the MLK Park. This donation includes two separate $25,000 donations.  One from the credit union itself and the other from Ascentra’s charitable foundation, the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation.

“We are honored to be a partner in this investment and in preserving our black history in downtown Davenport,” said Linda Andry, President and CEO, Ascentra Credit Union. “Thank you to the Friends of MLK for all the hard work they are putting into making the park a reality for our community to experience, learn and enjoy.”

This donation is in response to an $800,000 fundraising campaign to help pay for the remainder of the $1.2 million project.

The MLK Park will be constructed on a location rich in black history at 501 Brady Street in Davenport, and will create a community space for gathering, learning, remembrance and celebration. It will be surrounded by standing displays that will serve as living historical exhibits which will be regularly updated to keep the community returning and learning. The space will also include a stage, sitting benches and a community space for farmers markets and vendor fairs.

The location’s history dates as far back as the 1880s where it was once the location of a mixed-race restaurant, entertainment venue and rooming houses. It may also have been the location of a legendary jazz and dance spot called the Blue Bird Tavern.

The FoMLK is a non-profit corporation organized exclusively to empower and encourage the Quad City area to practice civil and human rights for all races, colors, and creeds as exemplified by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“We are excited that the completion of this park is in our near future,” said Ryan Saddler, Chief Executive Officer, Friends of MLK, Inc. “This dream wouldn’t happen without the many generous donors of our community like Ascentra and the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation. We are blessed to have the support of the Quad Cities community and look forward to honoring the memory and legacy of Dr. King through this park.”

The Ascentra Credit Union Foundation was created in 2015, following the unexpected death of Ascentra’s then President and CEO, Paul Lensmeyer, to continue his legacy of making a difference in the lives of our members, staff and the communities we serve. Since then, the foundation has made nearly $900,000 in charitable contributions.

This isn’t the first time that Ascentra has contributed to the planning and development of this anticipated park. In 2021, they donated $2,400 to the FoMLK to help pay for the initial architectural plans for the project.

Photo: The senior management team from Ascentra Credit Union and the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation presents two checks totaling $50,000 to the Friends of MLK (FoMLK) to help with the construction for the $1.2 million MLK Park in Davenport. Pictured are (back row, left to right) Beth Grabin, Chief Financial Officer, Ascentra Credit Union; Vera L. Kelly, Vice President, NAACP #4019 and FoMLK Board Member; Linda Andry, President and CEO, Ascentra Credit Union; Ryan Saddler, Chief Executive Officer, FoMLK.; Brad Knutson, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Ascentra Credit Union; Alvaro Macias, Vice President of Business Development, Ascentra Credit Union; Mike Guster, Chief Operating Officer, FoMLK; (front row) Jennifer Naeve, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Ascentra Credit Union; Shirleen Martin, FoMLK Board Member; Shelly Ridgeway, Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Ascentra Credit Union; Charlene Upchurch-Taylor, FoMLK Board Member; Kiki Lawton, FoMLK Board Member.

About Friends of MLK, Inc.

The Friends of MLK, Inc. (FoMLK) came into existence in 2015, organized exclusively to fulfill the mission of empowering and encouraging the Quad City area to practice the civil and human rights for all races, colors, and creeds as exemplified by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To accomplish this mission, the community, city, and private sector coalesced around the organization’s cornerstone project: to build the first formal memorial to Dr. King in the city while also preserving and displaying the city’s history as it relates to people of color. FoMLK also hosts the Quad Cities annual Juneteenth festival, an annual MLK Day celebration and ongoing activities within the MLK Interpretive Center designed for public education and learning.

About Ascentra:
Founded in 1950, Ascentra Credit Union, is Iowa's premier credit union with more than $521 million in assets and 9 branches serving the communities of Bettendorf, Clinton, Davenport, Muscatine, Iowa and Moline, Illinois. Learn more about Ascentra Credit Union at ascentra.org.  Follow Ascentra on Facebook (@ascentra), Twitter (@ascentra), Instagram (@ascentracu), TikTok (@ascentra) and on the Ascentra Credit Union YouTube channel. 

About The Ascentra Credit Union Foundation:
Established in 2015, to honor the memory of Ascentra Credit Union President and CEO Paul Lensmeyer and to meet the charitable and educational objectives of the Board of Directors of the credit union, the mission of the Ascentra Credit Union Foundation is to improve the quality of life for the membership of Ascentra Credit Union and further the philanthropic outreach in the communities the credit union serves. The focus of the foundation is on funding work to enhance youth development, expand credit education opportunities, foster community development, support cultural activities, and invest in ways to enhance the financial viability of the underserved.  More information can be found at www.ascentra.org/foundation.


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