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<p>ORLANDO, Fla. – Some Kids in Orange County, Florida, get a hands-on fully involved introduction into money management basics – by becoming credit union members. While a little over 8% of McCoy Federal Credit Union’s membership have yet to see their 18th birthday, they have, through McCoy’s Youth Savings Program, managed to save over $3 million. Begun in September 1993, the Youth Savings Program has taught thousands of young people how to save and better manage their money as well as introduced them to credit union membership – a link the credit union hopes will last their entire lives. “We saw the need and simply started putting the program together,” said Karen Byrd, original manager of the program for McCoy, a $225 million credit union with about 55,000 members. The program uses newsletter to its members, brochures in its branches and public speaking to in schools to introduce concepts like savings, deposits, interest, withdrawals, and balances. It also starts kids early on concepts like savings goals and how kids might use piggy banks, birthday money, allowance and summer jobs to add to their credit union savings. Since McCoy is a community credit union, serving Orange County south of Highway 50, all kids have to do to take part is live, worship or attend school in the designated community or have a parent or other immediate family member who does. The credit union waives the five-dollar credit union membership fee for any child who opens an account and does not charge any fees on children’s accounts. Participants in the program get age appropriate gifts when they open accounts and when they reach savings goals of $100, $250, $500, $750 and $1,000. “When we started most of the gifts had pretty much an educational focus,” Byrd said, for example pencil sharpeners and boxes for the credit union’s 5-10 year old group. “But as those items ran out we have includes more `cool’ stuff like sunglasses, backpacks and special robotic calculators,” Byrd said. “Robotic calculators” open their case when the user hits a button. Byrd says they have other gifts for the 11-17 year old group. McCoy has been particularly successful promoting the program through community organizations like the YMCA and through speaking at schools and youth events. When a child in the program turns 18 he or she receives a letter from McCoy informing them that while they are no longer eligible for the program, they can now become full McCoy members and can take advantage of all the credit union services. The program has been so successful the NAFCU highlighted it in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee’s February 4 hearing on financial illiteracy. “Many credit unions have special programs to educate their members and assist them in achieving their savings goals,” said NAFCU President Fred Becker. `These programs not only teach their members about saving, but also assist them in becoming more financially literate,” he said.</p>

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