CORVALIS, Ore. -- With the launch of brass|Student Program NY it seems that life has come full circle for brass|Media Inc. CEO Bryan Sims and credit unions are gaining recognition as financial literacy partners.
A collaboration among 19 sponsoring New York credit unions, publishing firm brass|Media, the New York Credit Union Foundation, the New York State Education Department and the Business Teachers Association of New York State, the two-year pilot program launched this fall is designed to help high school juniors and seniors better understand the importance of money and how it impacts their lives.
"It is great to offer something like this with credit unions for high schools," said Sims. "Especially since I came up with the idea for brass in my high school business class. Now credit unions are helping over 200,000 young adults across the nation receive brass."
The brass|STUDENT program is made up of three components: providing schools copies of brass|MAGAZINE, which looks at "the money side of life" and is written by and for young adults; providing instructional resources to teachers on how brass can be used in the classroom; and providing scholarship access to students via Credit Unions for College, a searchable database of CU-supported scholarships. Mailed quarterly to school principals, some 40,000 special student edition magazines per issue have been distributed to high schools in New York. Sims recently wrapped up a week tour in Albany, Rochester and Syracuse, going into high schools conducting roundtables with students talking up the program. In addition, Sims met with some 300 NY high school business teachers to get their input on the program. The events helped generate some positive PR for credit unions with four television news stations and two newspapers covering the story. Plans are underway to attend more roundtables in Long Island and New York City high schools.
"This has really been a grassroots campaign and the teacher support has been amazing. We're at a point now where we are welcome in any public high school in N.Y.," said Sims. "Talking to one student, Ray at Fowler High School, was a reality check for me why I started brass in the first place. Here was this very intelligent teenager who is working 20 hours a week, reading books on investing and Black Enterprise magazine, who wants to start a record label and be a role model who gives back to his community and from the moment he met me was asking me great questions about how to borrow money to start a business and make investments. He then tells me he keeps the $500 he saved to invest in a shoebox. To me, if this great student who is doing all he can to get ahead doesn't know about where to save his money then no student can do it on their own--they need some guidance and direction."
Sims says it drives home just why it is important for students to be taught real life financial literacy lessons.
"It blew my mind and I see such an opportunity for credit unions to set a national example by helping to make a real difference in these students' lives," said Sims. "Talking to the students and teachers it was awesome to see the effect the program is having and when the students asked me to autograph their copies of the magazine, I don't know who was more excited them or me."
With N.Y. teachers not only incorporating the brass articles into their classes and using the 23-year old Sims as a live role model, but also sharing lesson ideas with each other via the brass|Teacher Resource site, plans are tentatively underway to expand the student program to another state--Wisconsin.
"Eventually I'd love to see credit unions take this program to high schools in every state," said Sims. --firstname.lastname@example.org