PEWAUKEE, Wis. (4/15/11)--April is Financial Literacy Month, but credit unions have been recognized in a Wisconsin state proclamation for their efforts to teach sound money management year-round. The efforts are part of Wisconsin credit unions’ voluntary REAL Solutions initiative, which aims to help people improve their financial position without regard for profit, said the Wisconsin Credit Union League. For example, credit unions offer:
* Youth-run, in-school credit unions. Young people have saved more than $2.1 million in 109 youth-run branches of credit unions housed inside schools and youth centers statewide. None of the branches drive credit union profits; they teach young people the habit of saving. The branches are considered a best practice for youth financial education. * Savings programs. April 17-23 is National Credit Union Youth Week. The observance annually invites younger members to save. As part of last year’s observance, 3,800 young people in Wisconsin deposited $385,339 in savings accounts. * Classroom learning. Credit unions provide free to all of Wisconsin’s public high schools the brass|STUDENT PROGRAM--including the lifestyle money magazine brass. Resources for students and teachers online support state teaching standards. About 350 teachers actively use it in their classrooms. Credit unions also provide to schools the National Endowment for Financial Education’s High School Financial Planning Program, a classroom curriculum covering personal finance basics. * Online learning. Many credit unions offer financial lessons and tools online. For example, Money Mission offered by 24 credit unions, is an interactive game that challenges teens to balance their life along with their finances. The program recently awarded $12,000 to college-bound students. * Teacher education. Wisconsin credit unions sponsor local teachers attending the National Institute for Financial & Economic Literacy, held annually in Madison, Wis. The institute improves financial lessons for tens of thousands of Wisconsin students. * Financial counseling. Credit unions help members save more or pay down debt. Referrals to credit counselors help members facing more difficult situations. Referrals to classes help people gain or re-gain checking accounts. * Presentations. Credit unions present financial topics at schools and civic organizations. Many offer free workshops to teach members about credit reports, home buying and more. * Educational events. Credit unions participate in reality simulations that teach teens the costs of daily living. Some credit unions support money conferences, events that teach low-income families financial basics. Other credit unions offer savings challenges involving cash prizes. Others offer classes during Money Smart Week Wisconsin.