MADISON, Wis. (3/26/10)--April is National Financial Literacy Month and nearly 300 credit unions to date have registered to celebrate with a savings challenge for youth sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA).
The seventh annual National Youth Saving Challenge teaches youth under age 18 the importance of starting--and maintaining--a life-long savings habit. This year’s theme is “get in the saving game” and uses sports to illustrate the concept of saving for future wants and needs. The Saving Challenge is run in conjunction with National Credit Union Week, officially recognized April 18-24, although credit unions celebrate it throughout the month. “There are no losers in this game,” says Lin Standke, manager of product training in CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance. “Youth win financial smarts. Credit unions win as their trusted financial advisor. And the publicity we get for credit unions is, well, something banks can’t buy.” In the savings challenge, credit unions are offering prizes for young people under age 18 who make deposits. Prizes include giveaways and gift certificates with a sports theme. Some credit unions are supporting schools in their communities with donation jars for contributions to sports programs. Others are collecting new and used sports equipment for Special Olympics. Lobbies will be decorated with team pennants, sports equipment, and pictures of local athletes. Branches will host engaging activities such as basketball dunks, putting practice, and coloring contests to make visiting the credit union fun and memorable for young members. Family events range from a bowling night to carnivals in the parking lot. “Credit union employees are getting in the game by wearing specially designed savings game jerseys or local team uniforms,” Standke noted. CUNA will award 10 prizes of $100 nationwide in early May to young members participating in the Saving Challenge. Last year, credit unions posted a record Saving Challenge score when nearly 140,000 young members deposited $26.5 million into their savings accounts. And 10,006 of these were new accounts.