WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – Can a little Broadway flair help credit unions spread financial literacy and strike a chord with younger students? Credit unions that have participated in the [email protected] School program respond with a resounding yes. A multi-platform, in-school educational program, [email protected] School is the result of a partnership of the National Youth Involvement Board, CUNA and the Minneapolis-based in-school touring group National Theater for Children. The middle school program boosts financial literacy through an entertaining, live, in-school theatre production and classroom materials. The live theatre performance presents four key principles how to prioritize needs and wants, the difference between cash and credit, why everyone should spend less than they earn, and the importance of starting a savings habit. Students are also provided workbooks with pre- and post-show activities, vocabulary words, fun facts and a take-home section designed to include the entire family in the financial literacy experience. Workbooks and teacher guides include the credit union’s logo. There is also an option to create a Kidz Credit Union Club and includes a software savings program, classroom posters and CUNA’s online youth magazine Googolplex. Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union recently sponsored a theatre performance and the student response has been better than expected. “The earlier children are educated about personal finance the better their chances are of becoming financially responsible adults,” said FMFCU Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator Christy Trabosh. “I’ve sat in the back of the performances and the kids are thrilled with this program because it is so interactive. The two performers who play different roles pull students onto the stage with them and the audience and participants love it!” For Antigo, Wisconsin-based Co Vantage Credit Union, the program has also helped add a new dimension to its youth education efforts. “Our credit union has always been active with youth and we’ve had a great relationship with schools here, but we wanted to take it a step further,” said CoVantage CU Vice President Marketing/Human Resources Sherry L. Aulik. Considering opening a credit union branch in a high school, Aulik’s “informal” study revealed that while the high school branch would be good from a PR standpoint and strengthen the credit union’s ties with area schools, the estimated cost of $20,000 a year per school limited the number of students who could be reached. “We also learned from credit unions that had these branches that by the time the kids reached high school age they already have their opinions on spending/saving developed,” said Aulik. “We wanted to make a difference in kids earlier, and the two biggest factors in favor of the Googolplex program were that it targets kids at an age where we felt we had a better chance of motivating them to save; and that we could be involved with more schools due to the lower cost.” Aulik adds that since the program is turnkey, involvement can be as much or as little as the credit union and school agree on. School personnel can even operate the kids’ credit union branch since it is stand alone software. So far the credit union has successfully launched the program in two schools – D.C. Everest Junior High and Antigo Middle School. The renamed Kidz Bulldog Credit Union operates in the Antigo Middle School sixth grade math class and of the 120 students in the class 81 have opened accounts through the Kidz Credit Union. Opened in October 2005 the Kidz Bulldog Credit Union currently has assets totaling $725. In addition, 30 (15 each semester) sixth grade students are involved with running the credit union under the supervision of a CoVantage staffer. Aulik says student workers are not paid, but get the experience of working on the computer, counting cash, balancing, member service, and completing the forms needed by the credit union. “What is so wonderful is that these sixth graders have already established a pattern of consistently saving even if it is only 50 cents at a time,” said Aulik. “For us this program is not a source of deposits but rather a way to really make a difference in the financial lives of these kids and it is working.” Plans are underway to add the program to two more schools by this fall says Aulik. [email protected]

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