Since 2001, Choice Financial has valued putting "people first" and improving communities where its customers live in a variety of ways.

This includes supporting the arts.

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To show its support for local art, Choice Financial recently announced an initiative to feature local artwork on three limited edition debit cards starting Saturday.

With this new program, customers get to choose a debit card featuring work by North Dakota artists Dan Francis, Cris Fulton or Ashley Kunz and make a $5 suggested donation to one of seven arts councils across the state.

Choice Financial will match donations up to $7,500 total, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the councils.

To officially launch the program, Choice Financial is unveiling the artwork featured on the cards at 11 a.m. May 5 during the Mother's Day Art Market at APT, a Creative Incubator in downtown Fargo.

Choice Financial Director of Marketing Shelley Szudera says the bank wanted to pick artwork that was "reminiscent of North Dakota" and showcased a variety of visual art media on the cards.

"We have 19 North Dakota locations, so we wanted to make sure the art appealed to customers and communities in every location and every community that we represent," she says.

Abstract painter Ashley Kunz and photographer Dan Francis are both from Fargo-Moorhead. Cris Fulton, a mixed-media artist who primarily features landscapes in her work, is from Bowman.

"(This program) was a no brainer," Szudera says. "We're always looking for ways to show we're people first, and this was just another one of the ways to show that."

Szudera adds the program is also a creative way to smooth the transition to EMV chip cards for Choice Financial customers, but the bank's main goal is to highlight talented local artists and arts councils who are making a difference in their communities, she says.

One of the seven arts councils participating in the program is the Northern Lights Arts Council (NLCA), which sponsors art exhibits, theater productions, musical revues, art classes, films, book discussions and more in and around Langdon, North Dakota.

Amber Benoit, executive director of marketing and programming at the NLCA, says it's "really great" that Choice Financial decided to support the arts through this initiative, as the arts are important for "a thriving community."

"The arts sometimes do get overlooked," Benoit says. "When companies like Choice recognize the importance of (the arts), that can be really influential. It shows that Choice values the arts and the organizations and what they do."

The other six arts councils include the Badlands Art Association (Dickinson), Dakota West Arts Council (Bismarck), Ellendale Area Arts Council (Ellendale), Gorge Arts and Heritage Council (Walhalla), North Valley Arts Council (Grand Forks) and The Arts Partnership (Fargo).

Only 750 of each card will be available after Choice Financial launches the program, but Szudera says the bank plans to feature three additional North Dakota artists on the cards if the first round sells out.

Szudera already has an Ashley Kunz art card. She smiles as she takes it out of her wallet.

"Every time I pull that card out, I think about what we do and why we do it. It's a beautiful card and it makes me proud to support local art," Szudera says. "It's a good feeling."

Choice Financial will have a booth available at APT, a Creative Incubator from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday for people to open accounts, purchase cards and meet the artists.

For more information, visit

Shelley Szudera, director of marketing at Choice Financial, worked with Fargo artist Ashley Kunz for one of the card designs.
Shelley Szudera, director of marketing at Choice Financial, worked with Fargo artist Ashley Kunz for one of the card designs.

If You Go

What: Choice Financial launch of Support Local Art debit cards

When: 11 a.m. Saturday, May 5

Where: APT, a Creative Incubator, 225 Fourth Ave. N., Fargo

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit