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Washington Mutual Announces Books for Schools Promotion to Benefit Local Schools -- Provides Funding and Free Books

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 25, 2004--In a special fall promotion to support local schools, Washington Mutual is offering a Books for Schools program in which schools can earn free books for their school library in addition to cash when enrolled customers use their Washington Mutual VISA Check Cards(R) to make purchases.

The Books for Schools promotion, which runs during October and November, allows schools to additionally benefit by earning $500 in Scholastic books if they accumulate a certain number of points during the two-month time period. It is a special promotion offered under the ongoing WaMoola for Schools(R) program, which was introduced earlier this year and allows schools to earn points when participating Washington Mutual customers use their check cards. At the end of the year, Washington Mutual converts the points to cash and mails checks to the local schools.

"The added book promotion is our way of thanking educators and our customers who support education through the WaMoola for Schools program," said Cheryl Di Re, senior vice president of marketing at Washington Mutual. "Since we introduced the WaMoola for Schools program, results have been outstanding. So far, approximately two million customers have enrolled since March and more than 46,000 schools nationwide have been designated by our customers to benefit. In fact, it's one of the fastest growing programs supporting education in the country that we know of in terms of number of individuals who are enrolling. We are on track to distribute millions of dollars in funding to schools at the end of this year."

Schools choose how to spend their money

Bettye Wilkes, senior vice president and manager of community giving at Washington Mutual, added, "In a time when educational budgets are tighter than ever, every dollar counts when it comes to school funding. This is especially true for unrestricted funds which are provided through our ongoing WaMoola for Schools program. The added Books for Schools promotion this fall is another way to help schools with the resources they need."

The WaMoola for Schools program was designed to be simple and flexible. There's no enrollment fee and Washington Mutual does not charge customers for using their check cards when making purchases, although some merchants may charge. Under the program, customers with a Washington Mutual VISA(R) Check Card enroll by selecting a school to benefit and begin by simply using their check cards to make everyday purchases. The designated public or private school will receive a point currently worth approximately five cents for every purchase made using the card.

During the Books for Schools promotion, schools must receive 20 percent more WaMoola for Schools points during both October and November than the number they received during the month of August, with the minimum increase required for the two-month period being at least 700 points. Individual school goals are listed on the program's website at www.wamoolaforschools and it can be checked for updates on a school's progress toward its goal.

Book promotion designed to encourage more participation

"In addition to thanking enrolled customers, the Books for Schools promotion was also designed to encourage more WaMoola for Schools participation and thereby enable schools to receive even more funding from us at the end of the year," added Di Re. "The great thing is that everyone can support local schools." Parents can choose a child's school. Grandparents, aunts and uncles can also participate and even neighbors can designate a local school. Enrollees who don't have a specific school in mind can opt to have points allocated to a local underserved school.

One of the advantages of the WaMoola for Schools program, which was featured by Cause Marketing Forum this past September as being one of the innovative programs supporting education in the country, is that it can be used with other school-oriented programs, noted Di Re. For example, shoppers can use their check card to purchase grocery products such as soup labels or box tops from companies with other education incentives rather than writing a check, and their schools benefit multifold. "In fact, our research found that activities such as buying candy bars and wrapping paper and collecting box tops and soup labels are among the most popular activities through which consumers give to schools," she said. "What was even more compelling is that when we described the Wamoola for Schools program a majority of the respondents rated it very favorably. We clearly have developed a program that is resonating well with our customers and ultimately will benefit thousands of schools across the country."

About Washington Mutual

With a history dating back to 1889, Washington Mutual is a retailer of financial services that provides a diversified line of products and services to consumers and commercial clients. At September 30, 2004, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $288.83 billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,300 retail banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking and financial services offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are available at www.wamunewsroom.com.

    CONTACT: Washington Mutual
             Mary Kelley, 206-377-6878

    SOURCE: Washington Mutual