Individuals under the age of 21 are estimated at 60 million in the U.S. Only 7% of parents say their child understands financial matters well. The credit union movement’s continued commitment to help youth learn financial responsibility can be seen across the nation through financial literacy programs, educational seminars, and in-school branches – a strategic effort among an increasing number of credit unions.
Nearly 125 credit unions operate in-school branches. Team One Credit Union in Saginaw, MI, with $251 million in assets opened its first student-run credit union 13 years ago. Currently Team One operates seven branches in elementary schools around the community and one at the high school level.
At the in-school branches students, teachers, and staff obtain the benefits of a traditional financial institution. They can make deposits and students can withdraw money with the permission of a parent. CEO Konnie Werner said, “We have had very positive feedback from both parents and teachers. We even have had instances where grandparents have come in to the student credit union and opened an account or made a transaction for their grandchildren.”
The credit union is open at each school one day per week for a few hours. Team One has a staff member in charge of the student credit unions and she is present for all transactions. Students help operate and market the credit union through cash handling, opening new accounts, making posters, writing articles for the school paper, and talking to other students about the importance of opening a savings account at an early age.
. Below are a few marketing tactics and items employed by the credit union:
- Quarterly newsletter Each member receives a quarterly statement.
- “Milestone prizes” Members receive an insulated lunch bag upon opening an account and a reward out of the “prize bag” after nine deposits.
- Special drawings for prizes During special events students enter a drawing for a prize if they make a deposit. They gave away a giant crayon filled with toys during National Youth Week.
- Mascot The credit union’s mascot is a golden retriever that has plans to make special visits at the schools.
One challenge Team One faced was that many parents already have an established relationship at another financial institution. In those instances, the credit union reinforces the value that membership brings to the students. They get hands-on experience with depositing and saving and also get to have fun!
Werner said, “The goal of the Student Credit Union is to help ensure that the students in our community develop the skills to make wise financial decisions now and in the future .” Thus far, Team One Credit Union serves 800 students.