The $58 million, 11,052-member Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union in Lakewood, N.Y., has significantly expanded its Kid’s Credit Union program at community schools in the past year.
The program helps students save money, including an end goal to graduate from high school with more than $10,000 in their credit union accounts.
Southern Chautauqua FCU established Kid’s Credit Union in 2005 and introduced the program in two elementary schools. The credit union now works with six area elementary schools, each of which is located in low-income designated areas within the community. What’s more, Southern Chautauqua FCU has 40% more students participating in the Kid’s Credit Union program than the previous year.
To cover the costs of the materials for this growing project, Chautauqua FCU received a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation, which awards grants to programs that make a positive impact in communities and empowers consumers to achieve financial freedom through credit unions.
The Kid’s Credit Union project provides financial education to second-graders in Southern Chautauqua FCU’s community schools and follows these students until they graduate from high school. There are yearly goals for the students to meet with the end goal to graduate with a balance in their accounts of over $10,000.
“The vision of the credit union is to strengthen these students’ financial position so they will have a positive impact in the workforce after high school and become the community’s bright future,” said John Felton, president/CEO at Southern Chautauqua FCU. “The best way to affect the future is to teach a child the value of saving money and rewarding them for their efforts.”
A major difference in the Kid’s Credit Union program over a standard savings account is in the structure of it. A schedule is given to each student, allowing them to see how their money will grow if they continue saving through the 10-year process.
As the end of the school year nears, reminders are given to students of the amount in their accounts with the amount needed to achieve their goal for that year. Every student receives a certificate of completion at the end of each school year.
“Educating youth on the importance of saving and being financially savvy is critical,” said Lois Kitsch, national program director at the NCUF. “Southern Chautauqua FCU’s Kid’s Credit Union program is a great mix of financial education with an attractive savings product.”