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AmeriChoice uses grant for youth fin lit outreach
MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (4/7/11)--AmeriChoice FCU, Mechanicsburg, Pa., is on track to reach more than 10,000 school students this school year, after receiving a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) in 2010 for its financial literacy youth outreach program. The credit union partnered with schools throughout South Central Pennsylvania to teach financial literacy in a three-phase process that takes the credit union message, philosophy, and offerings to the community. The phases include classroom financial literacy presentations, student branch outreach including a new teen club account, and concerts for financial literacy. “AmeriChoice FCU is making a big difference in many young people’s lives thanks to its outreach efforts,” said Christopher Morris, NCUF director of communications. “What’s also impressive is that it is reaching not only students, but school staff, parents, and community partners as well. Serving as a financial resource as well as a financial institution will enable AmeriChoice FCU to truly build relationships for life.”
Click to view larger image AmeriChoice FCU Financial Literacy Manager Kim Dietrich, far left, is shown with students from Cedar Cliff High School Colt’s student branch on their training day at the credit union. The students also toured the credit union and met its senior management team.
Financial literacy has been an ongoing initiative for AmeriChoice FCU for the past six years. It expanded its program to include additional schools, curriculum, and components such as concerts for financial literacy and curriculum integration. The curriculum integration incorporates the four Pennsylvania Career Education and Work Standards: career awareness and preparation, career acquisition, career retention and advancement, and entrepreneurship. All the components are addressed throughout each phase of AmeriChoice FCU’s program. In the classroom financial literacy phase, the credit union's financial literacy manager, Kim Dietrich, works with teachers to integrate financial literacy in area schools' curriculum and teach students. AmeriChoice FCU partnered with the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) to provide financial education materials targeted high schools and college. It has continuously provided NEFE materials to teachers in South Central Pennsylvania. Over the past six years, it has sent 6,500 student workbooks to over 100 teachers at 20 educational facilities. It reached more than 10,000 students through the lessons last year and is on track to do the same for the 2010-2011 school year. Instruction focuses on the credit union difference and philosophy, savings, budgeting, and credit management. In the second phase, reaching youth through student branches and a teen club, students who run the branches come up with innovative marketing techniques to attract fellow students. Among the ideas implemented: video announcements with account incentives, informational tables at school events and activities, and posters to communicate the credit union’s brand message.
Click to view larger image Musicians perform for students at one of AmeriChoice FCU’s concerts for financial literacy. (Photos provided by the National Credit Union Foundation)
Last year, AmeriChoice FCU launched the MyChoice Teen Club Account to help students learn the terminology and options in the financial industry. The club's quarterly newsletter helps 1,200 teens understand the differences between credit unions and banks, how to get and why they need credit, and how to maintain a well-managed checking account with a debit card. New products allow teens to conveniently access their accounts. With home banking and mobile banking, teens are learning how to transfer money and view account balances before overdrawing their account. They also can use resources such as to track their spending habits. Music also plays a role in bringing the financial literacy message to students. AmeriChoice FCU partners with area school districts, music departments, entrepreneurship/business classes and Eloquent Online to perform concerts for financial literacy for students and staff. Performers are selected from the school’s talent show and professional musicians who talk to students about experiences in managing finances and why it is important to be financially literate today. A PowerPoint presentation with financial literacy statistics runs during the concert. Students who work for the credit union branch help promote the concert and participate by throwing out concert t-shirts and signing up new members at the end of the concert. NCUF Innovation Grants are made possible by foundation supporters and the Community Investment Fund, which enables credit unions to earn dividends while donating to national and state community development programs.
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