BATON ROUGE, La. -- For students at Capitol Middle School, it's hands-on learning with a real-life twist.
LA DOTD Federal Credit Union's newest branch location--inside Capitol Middle School, in the East Baton Rouge Parish School System--provides students life skills learned by actually operating a real credit union.
Known as Cougar Union, where you can "save cash in a flash," the credit union is run by 11 Capitol Middle School eighth-grade students who serve as branch managers, marketing directors, and member service representatives. Working with LA DOTD FCU, they prepared for their roles by studying topics such as savings and deposit accounts, simple and compound interest, check writing, and types of payments. They also learned business skills needed to operate a credit union branch, such as member service, confidentiality, dress codes, and receipt and cash handling. Included in the training was a trip to LA DOTD FCU for on-the-job observation and instruction to help them better prepare for their staff positions.
"The LA DOTD FCU in-school program encourages saving and good money habits for life," said Danielle Scott, LA DOTD FCU's financial education manager, who oversees the in-school branch program. "We provide life-long skills needed to be productive members of our community and work force."
According to Scott, the program is designed to supplement classroom math and computer skills, and to help all Capitol Middle School students set realistic savings goals and age-appropriate savings programs. "We want to create a new generation of savers and introduce them to the importance of building a relationship with a financial institution," she said.
Cougar Union is LA DOTD FCU's third in-school branch. Unlike the other in-school branches, Cougar Union has several community sponsors challenging the students to save money and make deposits. The first 100 savers to open accounts will receive matching funds and dividends through a special partnership with 100 Black Men of Greater Baton Rouge. Local pastor Rev. S.C. Dixon was the first to pledge to sponsor students with their first $5 deposit, and local attorney Dedrick Moore followed by donating $5 to every student that hadn't participated in the savings challenge. Additional support for the program is provided by The Federal Reserve and funding from a National Credit Union Foundation Innovation Grant.
Cougar Union will be open on Tuesday mornings, and members can open saving accounts, check balances and make deposits. Membership is open to all faculty and students at the Capitol Middle School, along with their family members and area community businesses.