When the BizKid$ folks start giving out the best practices award, the hands-down winner is the $23 billion State Employees’ Credit Union of Raleigh, N.C.
That’s because State Employees’ has devoted perhaps the most resources – personnel, energy and finances – to the six-year-old public TV financial literacy venture, according to the top brass at the National Credit Union Foundation, the program’s sponsor.
“We just love the BizKid$ and we see the program as this fantastic way to reach middle school youngsters, an important demographic for our future,” explained Leigh Brady, senior vice president education services at SECU, where the CU message gets delivered through the 239 branches that blanket the Tarheel State.
It is estimated the State Employees’ program has now reached 6,000 North Carolina students since the effort began in 2009.
Brady stressed that State Employees’ culture has always focused on member education rather than just marketing, so there is wide support for BizKid$. That has included training 438 staffers to share BizKid$ material in classrooms and at other sites.
“Through their foundation and in other areas, they simply have done something extraordinary in outreach,” said Danielle Brown, the NCUF’s BizKid$ program coordinator.
Through the SECU Foundation, the Raleigh-based CU provided $125,000 in funding for the production of the third season of the TV series and later collaborated with the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation to introduce the program in North Carolina schools.
“With a presence on the University of North Carolina Public Television Network, BizKid$ became a welcome addition to other youth programs including the Fat Cat program for elementary age students,” said Brady.
Fat Cat uses videos and money games and launched in 2000. “We now see Fat Cat mascots all over North Carolina leading parades,” said Brady, adding that Fat Cat also has become a well-known symbol for education across the state “and we like that.”
In addition to in-school programs, State Employees’ has also expanded the BizKid$ messaging to community youth groups, as well as churches, scouts and after-school programs.
Since 2009, SECU has conducted more than 245 BizKid$ presentations, and with the support of teachers, parents and civic leaders SECU reps have teamed up with state agencies such as the Department of Social Services and county extension services to expose young people to literacy education.
“Because of the success and popularity of the Biz Kid$ program, in 2011 SECU Foundation granted an additional $500,000 for production of the fourth and fifth seasons,” said Mark Twisdale, executive director of the SECU Foundation. “SECU’s long-term objective is to help youth acquire good financial practices before high school and college and BizKid$ is helping SECU staff accomplish just that.”