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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Building from a foundation of education mixed with fun, credit unions are making this the year they connect with younger members. San Antonio Teachers Credit Union has formed a unique partnership with Edgar A. Poe Middle School. The middle school is the first in the city to make the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) program a compulsory class for its students. “San Antonio Teachers Credit Union is committed to being a community partner that makes a strong presence and commitment to the youth of our Credit Union and our community at large,” said SATCU President/CEO Leon Ewing. “It is through these types of partnerships that we can bring a strong commitment of quality and dedication to financial education and make a huge impact in the community emphasizing credit union goals and principals.” Warren, Ohio-based Seven Seventeen Credit Union in cooperation with sixteen schools and three youth groups has helped provide 453 young adults with basic financial skills through NEFE and training materials for over 900 students have already been provided for the current school year. Lakewood, Colorado-based Jeffco Schools Credit Union has taken another approach to NEFE by hosting a free workshop to promote financial education among teachers. JSCU reimburses Jeffco teachers’ substitute teacher pay, provides breakfast, lunch and refreshments and provides all training materials at no cost. NEFE developed the high school program to help educators guide students to a more financially successful future. The program, which can be easily integrated into math, social studies, economics, or consumer and family studies classes in as few as 10 class periods, focuses on methods to help students learn how to develop a budget, understand the concept of credit, comprehend the impact of time on the value of money, and many other important aspects of personal finance. JSCU Marketing and Public Relations Director Lou Baccam cannot stress enough the importance of being involved with tomorrow’s leaders. “Financial literacy is something we strive for, especially for our youth. It is important for credit unions to make an impact on developing them into financially healthy and successful adults,” said Baccam. Along those same lines the Louisiana Chapter of the Institute of Certified Credit Union Executives, in conjunction with the Louisiana Credit Union League, have created a series of six PowerPoint presentations as a resource for volunteer speakers wishing to cover the NEFE High School Financial Planning curriculum. “The PowerPoint presentations cover all six units of the program, and provide potential speakers with the resource they need to immediately begin using this program,” said Susie Fair, Senior Consultant for the Louisiana Credit Union League. “The presentations would be good for most any willing speaker wishing to raise the financial literacy of our state’s young people.” The presentations were created as a collaborative effort of the following Certified Credit Union Executives: Mike Hooper, CCUE, La Capitol Federal Credit Union, Karen Vines, CCUE, La Capitol Federal Credit Union, Cindy Sansing, CCUE, Rapides Schools Federal Credit Union, Chris Eckart, CCUE, CUNA Mutual Group, and Susie Fair, CCUE, Louisiana Credit Union League. Volunteer speakers were recruited at the League’s recent New Laws Conference, and provided with the presentations on CD for their use in teaching the course to high school students. Many in credit union-land feel education is the best tool in the credit union kit to help younger members. Recently Tower Federal Credit Union launched its politically appropriate education program cautioning high school seniors, college students, and the newly graduated about the dangers of only paying the minimum balance on credit cards. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes (D-MD), the leading advocate of improving financial literacy of Americans, welcomed the new campaign aimed at teaching college students how to better use credit. “It is my strong belief that higher levels of financial literacy will help Americans approach the decisions they must make in a responsible and productive manner,” said Sarbanes. “For many Americans, college is the time when they first enter the financial system. Unfortunately, studies show that most college students lack the financial knowledge necessary for a smooth entry. So I applaud this effort by Tower Federal Credit Union as they work to help rectify the situation.” Continuing its efforts to promote financial literacy, Raleigh, North Carolina-based State Employees’ Credit Union has recently launched the next stage in its Life Stages line of services – Off to College/Off to Work. Geared to young adults ages 18-25 the program focuses on educating young members in money management planning. As part of the program loans are available to help with college costs, or any of those normal “getting started in life” expenses. Basic transportation loans and 100% financing are available for vehicle purchases at exceptionally favorable rates. In November of 2000, SECU began the Life Stages program by offering the FAT CAT youth account for children up to 12 years old; today the FAT CAT program has over 50,000 accounts. The Zard program targeted at teens followed in April 2002 and so far over 15,000 teen Zard accounts have been opened. “Off to College/Off to Work targets a critical age group, the age where young adults tend to accumulate significant amounts of debt because they don’t have a clue about money management in the real world. We want to help by offering financial guidance with a common sense approach. Likewise, we’re looking to develop a long term relationship with these members, in an effort to provide them with needed services in the future,” said Leigh Brady, SECU senior vice president of consumer education. Youth or teen seminars are also becoming increasingly popular in credit unions. American First Credit Union has hosted a free seminar to teenagers wanting to learn more about how to manage their money. The seminar offered tips on how to save and manage money and make wise financial decisions. Information on budgeting, maintaining and balancing a checking account and using credit wisely was also provided, along with pizza, soda and cookies. In addition to a growing number of youth and teen clubs, credit unions are providing online links to CUNA’s Googolplex which provides young members online access to weekly new puzzles, games, quizzes or articles to help them learn to save for the future, spend wisely and borrow responsibly. Virginia Beach-based Amphibious Base Naval Base Federal Credit Union has only heard rave reviews from both parents and kids alike for its StartSmart Home Savings Program. Designed by Educator/CEO Vincent Ramirez, the StartSmart program introduces children in grades 3 to 7 to the “Dollar Family” and emulates all the functions and tasks adults carry out from budgeting and accounting to writing checks and repaying loans with interest. Within just 90 days of the pilot program 93% of children learned how to write a check; 96% saved more than 10% of their allowance and 81% learned the meaning of interest. [email protected]

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