Experts say the need for financial education has never been greater. A recent study funded by the National Endowment for Financial Education and other research has shown that many teachers and parents are not equipped to teach financial education to children.
“Providing financial education for young people is one of the most important things that credit unions can do to make a positive impact on the community and a long-lasting difference in the world,” said NAFCU President/CEO DanBerger.
Berger said credit unions that organize financial literacy programs often experience a measurable return on investment in the form of increased Gen Y membership, college loans and other benefits.
“Financial literacy programs build rapport with the community, promote credit unions in a positive light, and encourage young people - and their family members - to become credit union members,” Berger added.
Here are five financial literacy programs making their mark in school.
Next Page: New Year for NEFE
NEFE High School Financial Planning Program
For more than 25 years, the Denver-based National Endowment for Financial Education, in partnership with CUNA and other non-profit organizations, has helped to educate about a half million students annually in every state in the U.S. and on numerous U.S. military bases around the world.
Through its award-winning High School Financial Planning Program, NEFE provides financial education curriculum, including classroom materials and lesson plans, which credit unions can utilize to teach workshops and provide to local educators at no cost.
This fall, HSFPP training sessions are scheduled at credit unions across the country.
“Teachers sigh in relief when they discover that local credit union partners are available and enthusiastic about co-teaching with the NEFE materials or sharing expertise about personal finance topics,” said Susan Sharkey, director of NEFE’s high school financial program.
(At left, school teachers and credit union educators at a recent NEFE training session at Teachers FCU in Hauppauge, N.Y.)
Although most U.S. school districts have adopted graduation guidelines that require students to complete personal financial education standards, more than 60% of educators said they do not feel qualified to teach the required curriculum, according to a University of Wisconsin-Madison study funded by the NEFE.
For the past four years, the New York Credit Union Foundation in Albany has partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension to host training sessions.
"Our foundation's mission is 'fostering the financial independence of New Yorkers through credit unions,' and building youth financial literacy is a critical part of that," said Allison Barna, director of NYCUF/community development.
Earlier this summer, training sessions were held at the $690 million, 75,000-member Summit FCU in Rochester, N.Y., and the $4.7 billion, 230,000-member Teachers FCU in Hauppauge, N.Y.
"Attending this seminar was hugely helpful because the financial literacy curriculum provided through NEFE is excellent,” said Jackie Wiegand, marketing administrator at the $35 million, 5,000-member Compass FCU in Oswego, N.Y. “It follows state and national education standards, but, more importantly, it is presented in a fun, logical and enjoyable way.”
To learn more about HSFPP or register for upcoming training sessions, click here.
Next Page: Some Michigan TLC
For this school year, TLC will train about 400 students to serve as tellers, branch managers and other positions, said Barb Rupley, the credit union’s youth financial literacy manager.
(At right, students making deposits at one of TLC Community CU's 16 student-run branches in local elementary schools.)
This fall, TLC plans to hold an online scavenger hunt that encourages students to learn about online banking by logging on to their home banking screen at least twice monthly to check their savings account balance. Every other week, a banner on the home screen will have a different question for students to answer. Participants have a chance to win a tablet, Rupley said.
During the past decade, a growing number of credit unions have launched in-school branches. At TLC, the student-run branches accept and process deposits weekly. Participating students are eligible for an age-appropriate savings account at no cost, which they can open with just 25 cents.
“Student members are encouraged to set savings goals, make wise spending choices and create a plan for their future,” Rupley said. “Students who participate find it is a great way to learn about financial responsibility and have fun at the same time.”
To celebrate the success of the program, which began 13 years ago, TLC hosted a party this summer at a local recreation center for its student employees.
“We’ve really grown the program in the past two years and we’ve started tracking family member response,” said Rupley, who recently became a certified financial education instructor through the National Financial Educators Council.
“We got advice from CP Federal Credit Union (in Jackson, Mich.) to launch it and since then it has evolved because we’ve added our own unique approach,” said Suzanne Miller, TLC’s marketing manager. “We know that we have attracted new members and increased student accounts, student loans and other services by sponsoring this program.”
Next Page: BizKid$ in the Bayou
Popcorn, candy and money management tips are an unusual mix in a movie theatre, but they seem to be a recipe for financial literacy success for Carter Federal Credit Union in Springhill, La.
Using a $25,000 grant from the National Credit Union Foundation in Madison, Wis., the $220 million credit union partnered with a local studio to film several financial literacy videos that have been shown in a local theatre before feature movies.
Filmed in the communities CFCU serves, the videos are now available on YouTube:
- “A New Bike” – shown before G-rated movies
- “Looking Back, Looking Forward” – shown before PG-rated movies
- “Your Financial Future Preview” - shown before movies aimed at adults
Launched nationally in 2008, Biz Kid$ has reached more than 35 million viewers, the NCUF said. Earlier this year, the series won a Daytime Emmy Award and the Children’s Choice Gold Award.
NCUF provides free Biz Kid$ classroom curriculum, which has been approved by State Boards of Education in numerous states, including Texas, California and Florida.
“Carter Federal Credit Union’s multi-faceted approach to financial literacy is great,” said NCUF National Program Director Lois Kitsch. “Plus, trailers are an integral part of the theater experience, which makes this such a clever way to reach moviegoers with a message that will resonate.”
More than 3,000 children and 3,000 adults have seen the videos at the theater's Kids Camp Movie Program, Senior Citizen Night and other events.
CFCU also trained 10 member volunteers, dubbed the “Carter Federal Education Team," to help with educational events.
“As a result of that part of the program, more than 500 people in the community have received financial education training,” said James Gibson, president/CEO at CFCU. “This program is one the ways Carter Federal Credit Union is responding to the increasing need for financial literacy within our membership and in the communities we serve.”
Next Page: California Extra Credit
PremierOne Virtual Credit Zone
In recognition of its Credit Zone program that began last year, the $334 million, 25,000-member PremierOne Credit Union in San Jose, Calif., recently received a $1,000 grant from NerdWallet, a personal finance analysis site, as a winner of its 2013 Gen Y Credit Union Contest.
"We are hopeful our Credit Zone initiative will reach young adults in an innovative and impactful way," said Andrea Brewer, president/CEO of PremierOne. "Being recognized by NerdWallet as part of their Gen Y contest will go a long way in helping our initiative."
As part of the program, PremierOne recently created avirtualresource/hub with videos, credit tips, a blog, links to resources, social media connections and an interactive credit quiz. The hub received about 110 unique visits in August, the credit union said.
To promote the Credit Zone, PremierOne hosts seminars in classrooms, sends postcards on a regular basis to members age 18-22, and offered a “College Package,” featuring products and services designed for young adults.
Just in time for the new school year, the program added a few new perks.
“We added the college package to the hub, and when utilized, members now receive our USB Slapband with the Credit Zone presentation and videos already loaded,” said Sara Karam Holtz, assistant vice president of marketing for the 25,000-member credit union. “As part of the package, we include our mobile app, which directs interested members back to the Credit Zone.”
PremierOne also is developing a point system for different methods of interaction (such as taking weekly quizzes or “checking in” at the credit union) that could be swapped for Credit Zone “swag” such as sweatshirts and notebooks, Karam Holtz said, and the credit union is creating a plan to penetrate further into local universities, along with measurement trackers to monitor what works best.
“Our goal is to add dedicated monthly emails, specific social media initiatives and groups, and utilize our mobile app to expand the brand of the Credit Zone to beyond Credit Union membership,” Karam Holtz explained. “The more we can develop ourselves into an interactive resource for the very important topic of credit, the more Gen Y members will look to us as their resource for financial products and services even as they progress with their lives.”
Above, as part of its Credit Zone program, PremierOne CU presents financial literacy programs at local schools.
Next Page: It’s Elementary, M3
“We are incredibly excited about these new youth programs and all they offer our membership,” said Brian Hughes, president/CEO of the 17,000-member HRCU. “It is our mission as an organization to support our local community and it starts with the youth.”
The M3 Money Club offers comics, quizzes, podcasts and engaging financial content on its co-branded website, which features superheroes, Cash and Violet, who visited schools and summer camps during this summer.
“The popularity of superheroes never goes away and we could tell that the M3 Club characters are a hit, based on the reactions of children and parents,” said Leah Esslinger-Sprowl, HRCU’s youth educator. “If we can reach children and teach them savings habits at a young age it, then those good habits will hopefully carry over into adulthood.”
To promote the M3 Club, HRCU is also launching Super Saver Days, which allows students to make deposits at school each week when a credit union representative visits.
HRCU said it is also adding new offerings for teen members with Subcat's Elements of Money program, which won a 2012 Gold Award from the Marketing Association of Credit Unions and features a co-branded website, mobile app, social networks, podcasts, interactive games and videos.
Below, costumed characters Cash and Violet visit New Hampshire schools as part of Holy Rosary Credit Union's new M3 Money Club.