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Student-run CUs touted at social studies conference
ST. PAUL, Minn. (3/13/14)--More and more, school districts throughout the U.S. are emphasizing to their students the importance of personal financial literacy.
 
President Barack Obama's Council for Financial Capability of Young Americans, meanwhile, recently began work in encouraging young people to take stock in their financial futures as well (News Now March 11).
 
What better way to teach personal finance, than to have students run a financial institution of their own?
 
Credit unions are on top of it.
 
At a Minnesota Council on Social Studies conference earlier this month, representatives of the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation spoke about the importance and success of five student-run, in-school credit unions that have been established over the past few years, a growing trend not just in Minnesota but nationwide.
  
Student tellers at Poquessing Middle School, Feasterville-Trevose, Pa., will staff the school branch of Bucks First FCU two days per week during lunch. (Pennsylvania Credit Union Association photo)
For instance, Bucks First FCU, Bristol, Pa., and the Neshaminy School District partnered to open the first student-run credit union branch to be located in a Pennsylvania middle school (Life is a Highway Feb. 27).  The branch at Poquessing Middle School, Feasterville-Trevose, is part of the "Project Flipside" youth financial literacy program from the $83 million-asset credit union.
 
"Minnesota credit unions large and small have a commitment to financial education, and no two credit unions' efforts are exactly alike," said Kristina Wright, MCUF executive director. "The dedication by our credit unions that have established these first five in-school branches is spectacular, and it's a concept that I hope to see more of in the coming years."
 
The in-school branches that opened in Minnesota worked with credit unions such as St. Paul (Minn.) FCU, $124 million in assets; Postal FCU, $6.9 million in assets; and Cook (Minn.) Area Credit Union, $28 million in assets.
 
With the help of teachers, most of the branches are run by students and for students, offering myriad educational opportunities in financial literacy.
 
Wright led a breakout session during the conference called "Educational Benefits of Student-Run Credit Unions."
 
At the Minnesota Council on Social Studies conference, Tartan High School student Marc Buchmayer shared his experience of working at Postal CU's student-run branch in Oakdale, Minn. (Minnesota Credit Union Network photo)
There, she introduced the concept of student-run credit unions and provided resources and information on operational models, considerations and the many benefits of partnerships between schools and credit unions.
 
Participants also heard from educators who'd been directly involved in establishing student-run credit unions in the state, including Scott Pierce of Owatonna High School--the first to open a branch in Minnesota--and Craig Spreiter of Tartan High School, Oakdale.
 
"We felt that it would be a great tool to help students learn about financial literacy, and we could also incorporate it into classes," Pierce said. "The students that work at the credit union gain great experience, and the other students benefit as well through peer education and in dealing with other students."
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