St. Helens Community Federal Credit Union has hopes that area tweens setting sail for Money Island will find the greatest buried treasure–becoming more financially savvy.
The St. Helens, Ore.-based credit union has partnered with BancVue to unveil Money Island, an online game for kids ages 8 to 14 that focuses on three key financial areas: saving and spending, earning and investing, and using credit wisely.
"We’re one of the first credit unions to offer Money Island, and now particularly with the many budget cuts faced by school districts, it feels great to be able to provide this free unique and fun educational resource," said Diana Huff, assistant vice president of marketing at St. Helens Community FCU. "It’s also a good way to stand out in the community as a true partner and help build deeper relationships with not only younger members but their parents as well."
Money Island is built around an overarching grand adventure, saving Stone Broke. Stone Broke, who was bullied as a kid and never learned how to save, spend, invest and share, has allowed his experience with money to harden his heart. Kids go on adventurous quests to exotic destinations, while becoming financial gurus along the way. As they journey to fantastic destinations like the Eiffel Tower and Atlantis, they learn real-life principles of handling money responsibly. Within the adventure, there are a number of mini-games and videos designed to enhance the experience. Money Island participants can also compete against each other and share pictures from their game experience.
Virtual rewards are built into the game, and those who successfully complete all the levels have an opportunity to receive an individual gift in the real world. In addition, there are classroom participation rewards as well.
The idea for Money Island came to Felix Brandon Lloyd, chief professor at BancVue, some five years ago after working as a teacher in the Washington, D.C., school district, and he has spent the past 15 months making it a reality.
"The financial crisis highlighted the importance of the key concepts: save, spend, invest and share," said Lloyd. "Our children need help understanding how money works and the knowledge to use it wisely. The trick is to teach kids something valuable with fun and engaging activities, so they look forward to coming back again and again."
The Money Island curriculum has already been successfully piloted by public schools in Iowa and Texas. There are lesson plans for every level of the learning experience, along with ongoing educational resources for teachers and parents.