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BEL AIR, Md. – The $140 million HAR-CO credit union has launched a proprietary debit card program designed to help students at a local high school learn financial skills. Students age 14 and above at the John Carroll School, a parochial school in Bel Air, Maryland, are able to open checking accounts at the CU and then transform their existing student identification cards into Patriot Cards, which they can use to purchase lunch at the school cafeteria as well as items from the school bookstores. The credit union partnered with a local card processing company and developed a secure, proprietary, limited use system just for the school. The company’s private network allows the debit cards to be used in controlled circumstances while still allowing students to experience all of the various account access channels from Internet banking to in-person transactions to managing their checking accounts. “Helping students learn basic money management early on is a major goal for HAR-CO,” explains president/CEO Jim Meehan. “When the opportunity to work with The John Carroll School to offer students age 14 and older an in-school debit card came up, it was the perfect chance to do that.” One of HAR-CO’s directors, Dick Paaby, is an English teacher at John Carroll, so when the school wanted to find a way to help their students learn to better manage money, it was natural to turn to Harford County’s education credit union for help.

Meehan explained that the schools’ need to better teach students financial literacy dovetailed with the CU’s desire to help make younger people more familiar with credit unions.

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