Michigan CUL Rallies for Exchange City CU Survival
NORTHVILLE TOWNSHIP, Mich. - Exchange City - it's a kids world and the Michigan Credit Union League wants to make sure credit unions are still a part of it. Not wanting credit unions here to miss a unique opportunity in reaching younger members, the league is asking Michigan credit unions to sponsor "Exchange City Credit Union" for another three years. If it does not get support from credit unions, it will be converted to a bank. Developed by Kansas City-based educational firm Experiencia, Exchange City is an educational adventure aimed at introducing fifth and sixth graders to what it takes to operate a community. "We are asking credit unions for an annual pledge over the next three years. This will ensure that students will continue learning that credit unions help with their financial needs," said MCUL Director of Consulting Services Brian Paul. " Pledges are an easy and inexpensive way to advance financial literacy, while attracting new members in their formative years." Housed in a 20,800 square-foot learning facility, Exchange City features a credit union, newspaper, radio/television station, post office, city hall and an array of merchandisers. Students' passports to entering the city is 40 hours in the classroom learning concepts ranging from economic supply and demand, taxes, entrepreneurship and negotiation to personal finance and how to apply for a business loan. Kids also learn how to write a resume and apply for a job. With all course materials referring to credit unions and members, the league says the mock credit union is a great way to market the credit union brand to the next generation of consumers. Once the coursework is completed students are then in charge of running the entire city. Since February 2004, some 10,000 Michigan students have assumed roles of everyone from city leaders and shop owners to credit union employees. "Each year thousands of students participate in the Exchange City program and an integral part of their experience is learning that credit unions are the place to go for savings, consumer and business loans and checking accounts," said Exchange City CU Sponsor/Taylor Community CU CEO Phil Matous. It seems that when it comes to financial literacy, Exchange City also delivers positive results. According to a recent evaluation, prior to participation none of the students could correctly answer personal finance questions - after the experience some 67% of students were able to not only accurately manage their credit union checking accounts and loans but also answer all personal finance and credit union questions correctly. "Without support from the credit union community, Experiencia will have no choice but to solicit bank support," said Matous. "It's not a tough decision. If each credit union contributes $1,000, $500 or even $250 we can succeed - sponsoring Exchange City CU is a win-win for credit unions." Michigan CUs are encouraged to make their 2005 contribution by June 1.