Minnesota Educators Study Student-Run Credit Unions
Student-run credit unions provide financial services within several Minnesota high schools, offering a unique learning experience for students involved in their operation and lessons in personal financial management.
An official from the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation on March 3 shared those advantages with educators attending a conference sponsored by the Minnesota Council on Social Studies.
In May 2013, Minnesota’s K-12 Academic Standards in Social Studies were revised to include new educational requirements for personal finance. Even prior to the mandate, existing partnerships between credit unions and schools were already addressing the issue.
Kristina Wright, executive director of the foundation, described the benefits of student-run branches to teachers from all educational levels at the Great Lakes Social Studies Conference in Bloomington, Minn.
Since February 2011, five student-run branches have opened in schools thanks to the efforts of four Minnesota credit unions. Participants in the in-school branch program include Cook Area Credit Union in Cook, Home Town Federal Credit Union in Owatonna, and Postal Credit Union and St. Paul Federal Credit Union, both in St. Paul.
Wright’s session, “Educational Benefits of Student-Run Credit Unions,” offered an introductory overview to student-run credit unions and included a variety of resources and information on operational models, considerations and benefits of these partnerships.
“Minnesota credit unions large and small have a commitment to financial education, and no two credit unions’ efforts are exactly alike,” Wright said. “The dedication by our credit unions that have established these first five in-school branches is spectacular, and it’s a concept that I hope to see more of in the coming years.”
Richard M. Todd, vice president of community development for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, provided background information on the history of in-school savings programs.
The conference presentation also included perspectives from educators Scott Pierce of Owatonna High School and Craig Spreiter of Tartan High School in Oakdale, both of whom were instrumental in the formation of their schools’ student run credit unions.
“We felt that [a student-run credit union] would be a great tool to help students learn about financial literacy, and we could also incorporate it into classes,” Pierce said, noting how elements of the credit union branch have permeated personal finance and marketing classes. “The students that work at the credit union gain great experience, and the other students benefit as well through peer education and in dealing with other students.”