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Bulldog is Illinois latest student CU
STREATOR, Ill. (12/14/11)--Bulldog CU, Streator, Ill., is the newest student-run credit union in Illinois.

Ryan Neumann, Streator Onized CU Branch Manager (second from left), with other student workers at Bulldog CU's main location in the concession area of Streator, Ill., Township High School. (Photo provided by the Illinois Credit Union League)
Branch Manager Ryan Neumann says (BCU) was launched this school year in Streator Township High School. It will be open for an hour before classes begin and during all lunch hours--about three hours a day--for staff and students to conduct financial transactions without leaving the school.

BCU also gives Streator Onized CU (SOCU) the opportunity to employ three seniors every year through the high school work program.

BCU was opened with the intention of bringing financially literacy to students before they leave for college or start their own careers after high school. To date, about 190 students and staff either have an existing account at SOCU or opened a new one with BCU.

"If I didn't have the opportunity to start working at SOCU out of high school, I can't say I would have known much about money management, how important credit is, or just finances in general," Neumann said. "By putting a branch in the high school, we are giving the kids tools they will need to make wise financial decisions in the future."

Also, classroom seminars and presentations will be crucial in helping students better themselves and give them an understanding of the real world, Neumann said.

So far, teachers have responded well to the idea of the financial literacy classes. Topics will include: checking 101, saving for college, how to buy a vehicle, what credit is, and budgeting basics. To supplement the classroom presentations, Neumann also plans to use Mad City Money (a Credit Union National Association product) and ibudget, two interactive financial reality fair activity programs.

To help it start, BCU received an $8,000 Financial Independence and Revitalization (FIRE) grant through the Illinois Credit Union Foundation. The objective of FIRE grants is to provide assistance to credit unions to expand their ability to build and maintain viable communities by providing credit and financial services to residents and businesses in low-income and underserved areas of Illinois.

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