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News Now

CU System
Whats new with student-run branches
MADISON, Wis. (4/22/11)--More credit unions are opening student-run branches in local schools, and at least four of these received attention during National Credit Union Youth Week.
Click to view larger image At Central City CU’s Stevens Point (Wis.) Area High School’s branch—SPASH--(from left) branch coordinator Trudy Peters explains as student intern Ashley Higgins processes a student transaction while Principal Michael Devine, Wisconsin state Sen. Julie Lassa, and Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions Secretary Peter Bildsten look on. (Photo provided by Central City CU)
The student branches achieve three purposes: educating their members about wise money management, providing workplace experience for students, and provide an outreach program for future members. In Stevens Point, Wis., Central City CU's Stephens Point Area High School (SPASH) branch became a focal point Wednesday for discussing the importance of a strong financial education as a base for long-term financial success. Visiting the credit union were state Sen. Julie Lassa and Department of Financial Institutions Secretary Peter Bildsten. Both saw what makes in-school branches so successful. "I spend a lot of time working with students on financial terminology," said Central City's SPASH branch coordinator Trudy Peters. "It can be very intimidating to walk in the credit union and not understand the terms being used. It is very empowering for students to have a strong financial vocabulary." Central City operates two other youth-run branches in Marshfield High School and Nasonville Elementary. It also partners with teachers on financial lessons in the classroom.
Officials at Meadville (Pa.) Area FCU and Titusville School District pose with students gathered at the site of the credit union’s first student branch at the high school. (Photo provided by the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association)
On Monday, representatives from Meadville (Pa.) Area FCU and Titusville School District met with students for a groundbreaking ceremony to being construction of the credit union's first student branch, said the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association (PCUA) (Life is a Highway April 21). Eleven students have been selected to operate it. Six others will serve on the board of directors. Students will train during the summer and receive class credits from Titusville High School for their branch responsibilities. The branch expects to open in mid-September. The school also will use the financial education curriculum provided by the National Endowment for Financial Education. Ensuring financial education is a component of the project that made Meadville Area FCU eligible for a $10,000 financial literacy grant from the Pennsylvania Credit Union Foundation, said the PCUA. In Streator, Ill., Streator Onized CU will host a student-run satellite credit union for students and staff during school hours beginning next year at Streator Township High School (STHS) (MyWebTimes.com April 20). The portable program will be located in a concession stand during morning and lunch hours. Three work program students will operate it. The credit union will provide $25,525 annually for the project. The STHS branch will provide students with an opportunity they've never had before. It will educate students looking to work in finance and be an opportunity for other students to learn from them, said STHS teacher Chris Peterson. Six months ago in Houston, Texas, Smart Financial CU opened an in-school branch in Lamar High School, a business magnet school. This week it reported the branch's operations are on schedule for where they should be at this stage, said the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer April 19). The credit union cautioned that it takes time to reach the younger audience and that credit unions opening branches should not expect instant success. The branch is staffed with five part-time interns, all students, and one full-time outlet manager, Jessica Martinez, who works with the school's teaching staff to develop financial literacy seminars for all students. Smart Financial CU is working on developing products that meet the needs of youth. It has developed its Smart Scholars Checking Account, which has no minimum balance requirements, no service charges and offers bonuses for milestones--such as high grade point averages, and high school and college graduation. The credit union also plans to offer a Family MasterCard to help students slowly establish credit, and financial literacy workshops for students.


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