CAPITOLA, Calif. (7/10/08)--Bay Federal CU’s youth financial program has helped create a company-wide awareness that educating people about their finances empowers them to lead more secure and fulfilling lives, according to Carrie Birkhofer, Bay Federal president/CEO. Angelica Reyes developed the Capitola, Calif.-based Bay Federal’s youth program in 2004 when the credit union joined Santa Cruz Community CU in a Bridge Project Grant. The grant was sponsored by the Ford Foundation and the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. The grant provided seed money for Bay Federal to create a program for economically disadvantaged youth in the area. Bay Federal serves Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey counties. After conducting a needs assessment in the area, Reyes created more than 80 hours’ worth of PowerPoint presentations in English and Spanish with lessons tailored from a curriculum offered free by the National Endowment for Financial Education. Subjects include the importance of general education, the importance of saving, money math, balancing checkbooks, managing credit, retirement savings, needs versus wants, how kids can make money and budgeting. She has delivered the presentations in English and Spanish to more than 5,000 students and 5,000 adults. The program is free to teachers of grades five through 12, parents and community groups. “Discussion with kids about wants and needs really hits home,” Reyes said. “I want kids to understand that money won’t buy happiness, but it opens up a world of opportunities.” Reyes also began teaching adults because she saw that her young students were losing interest in good money habits if their families weren’t serving as good role models. “Money is not the problem--they work very hard and they have the money,” she said. “The problem is what they do with the money.” The emphasis on youth has paid off. At the end of Youth Week, held April 21-26, new youth account deposits at the credit union totaled $196,861. “Our employees were especially motivated because they like helping children in our community, and Youth Week gave them an opportunity to help create a brighter future for kids,” Birkhofer said. Bay Federal has more than $600 million in assets.