AUBURN, Wash. – Credit unions are taking their financial education message directly to young people and their families via the Public Broadcasting System in an innovative hookup with the Junior Achievement organization. The “Biz Kids” project with an eye toward producing a nationally syndicated show this fall containing a positive CU literacy message was to be formally unveiled last week during a high-level CU conference held in this Seattle suburb. The “Credit Union PBS Summit” as the meeting was called, brought together top foundation brass from CUNA, state leagues, CUNA Mutual, vendors as well as the sponsoring CEO of Junior Achievement Worldwide, David Chernow. Under the PBS venture, the CU coalition hopes to interest CU sponsors for broadcast of “Biz Kids” at public stations across the U.S. using Junior Achievement’s links to schools. JA, which reaches an estimated 4 million students nationally, has agreed to spend $250,0000 to create a CU storefront at its facility here as part of its CU partnership. Also acting as host sponsors for the “PBS Summit” held in JA’s Enterprise Village of Auburn was the Washington Credit Union League, BECU of Seattle – the state’s largest CU – and the CUNA-linked State Credit Union Foundation Network whose chairman is RoxAnne Kruger-Monahan, senior vice president of the Washington League. Officials said the idea for the PBS-Junior Achievement show has been in the works for months and apart from broadcasting a strong literacy message to young people the goal is also to reach parents and families to boost CU membership. The “PBS Summit” invite, sent to 75 CU executives, stressed that the JA leadership had been approached by banks for “Biz Kids,” but preferred CUs. “The banks want to sponsor the program but our potential partners are staving them off to work with not-for-profit credit unions,” said the Washington Credit Union Foundation Web site discussing the summit meeting. The Web site also noted that the producers for “Biz Kids” also are the creators for the popular and Emmy-award winning “Bill Nye The Science Guy” show airing on PBS. Junior Achievement, said the summit announcement, “is the world’s largest and fastest growing organization dedicated to educating young people about financial literacy.” Based in Colorado Springs, Junior Achievement has facilities in a number of U.S. cities. The planned show will highlight youngsters taking on “micro-loans to start their own business,” providing a tie-in to CUs, said the announcement. Jamie Chase, director of communications for the Washington League, said Biz Kids is expected to cost $2.4 million to produce, of which CU groups are being asked to pledge half of that amount, she said. Also on hand for the summit meeting will be two Washington state legislators, Rep. Sharon-Tomiko Santos and Sen. Karen Keiser, who will speak to the group on literacy needs with an expected mention of the new JA/CU relationship. [email protected]

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