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KATY, Texas – Members Choice Credit Union already had a program in place at Mayde Creek Elementary to familiarize students with financial basics. Now they have begun teaching the students’ parents, too. In conjunction with the school’s Parent Center, the credit union recently taught a 10-week Money Smart financial education course to adults with little or no banking experience. The school district has established Parent Centers in schools with high percentages of economically disadvantaged students, according to Members Choice VP of Marketing Kelly Gaines. At the Parent Center, adults, many of them born outside the United States, can find resources and instruction on various topics, including citizenship requirements and parenting skills. The Money Smart curriculum, made available through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, works to enhance money skills and promote positive banking relationships for adults outside the financial mainstream. It is comprised of 10 comprehensive instructor-led modules covering basic financial topics, including an introduction to financial institution services and tips on obtaining credit and buying a home. Participants filled out pre- and post-questionnaires each week to determine what they knew. “Financial education fosters financial stability for individuals and for the entire community. The more people know about credit and banking services, the more likely they are to increase savings, buy homes, and improve their financial health and well being,” says Barbara Sheffield, President and CEO of Members Choice. “This program helps individuals build financial knowledge, develop financial confidence, and use banking services effectively, and we are proud to be able to offer it to our community.” A total of 15 credit union employees, mostly mid-level managers but also the credit union’s CEO, taught the course over 10 weeks. Weekly class size ranged from 12-40 parents. Money Smart materials were available in English and Spanish, and a Spanish-speaking employee of Members Choice assisted with translation needs. Members Choice already had a student savings program established at Mayde Elementary for 4th and 5th grade students. The credit union contributes the first dollar to open the account and then collects regular deposits from the students. “It seemed like a natural extension of our existing program. We approached the Parent Center about teaching financial education. They felt the Money Smart program would be a great addition,” Gaines said. The Parent Center advertised the Money Smart course through flyers sent home with school students. The Money Smart course was held Friday mornings for 1 to 1-1/2 hours each week. The Center provided childcare for participants’ preschool children during the program. Members Choice, which has a community charter, has had “maybe 20″ parents join the credit union as a result of the credit union’s participation in the Parent Center and the student savings program, Gaines said. “We make our presentations as generic as possible. But as they became more comfortable with us, they begin asking questions like, `Well, what does the credit union charge for that?’ They like the idea that our fees are lower,” said Gaines. Outside of the introduction to financial institutions, which covered different types of accounts, Gaines said home buying was the most popular topic. The Parent Center has expressed interest in the credit union conducting the Money Smart class again in the fall. The credit union is considering that possibility. -

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