Thanks to a multi-phase approach to youth financial literacy, AmeriChoice Federal Credit Union is on track to reach over 10,000 school students this school year. AmeriChoice FCU in Mechanicsburg, Pa. received a grant from the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) in 2010 for this financial literacy youth outreach program.
AmeriChoice FCU’s partnered with schools throughout South Central Pennsylvania to teach financial literacy through a unique three-phase process while bringing the credit union message, philosophy, and offerings to the community. The three phases involved classroom financial literacy presentations, student branch outreach including a new teen club account, and “concerts for financial literacy.”
“AmeriChoice FCU is making a big difference in many young people’s lives thanks to their outreach efforts,” said Christopher Morris, NCUF Director of Communications. “What’s also impressive is that they are reaching not only students, but school staff, parents, and community partners as well. Serving as a financial resource as well as a financial institution will enable AmeriChoice FCU to truly build relationships for life.”
AmeriChoice FCU Reaching Youth
Source: AmeriChoice FCU
Kim Dietrich (far left), AmeriChoice FCU's Financial Literacy Manager, with students from Cedar Cliff High School Colt's student branch on their training day. All of the students come to the AmeriChoice FCU corporate office for a full day of member service and product training. They get to tour the credit union as well as meet AmeriChoice FCU's senior management team.
Financial literacy has been an ongoing initiative for AmeriChoice FCU for the past six years. Since then, they have developed and expanded the program to include additional schools, curriculum, and components. These components specifically include their concerts for financial literacy and curriculum integration. The curriculum integration incorporates the four Pennsylvania Career Education and Work Standards. These standards include career awareness and preparation, career acquisition, career retention and advancement, and entrepreneurship. All of these components are addressed throughout each phase of AmeriChoice FCU’s three phase program.
Classroom Financial Literacy
The first phase of AmeriChoice FCU’s program is classroom financial literacy. AmeriChoice’s Financial Literacy Manager works with teachers to integrate financial literacy in area school’s curriculum and teach the students. AmeriChoice FCU has partnered with the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), to provide financial education materials that meet Pennsylvania State Education Standards and any specific curriculum requirements. In addition to providing materials to targeted high schools and college, AmeriChoice FCU has continuously provided NEFE Materials to teachers in South Central Pennsylvania. Over the past six years, the credit union has sent 6,500 student workbooks to over 100 teachers at 20 different educational facilities. In doing so, they have reached over 10,000 students through their financial literacy lessons last year and are on track to do the same for the 2010-2011 school year .
Classroom instruction primarily focuses on the credit union difference and philosophy, savings, budgeting, and credit management. Each school has chosen a specific schedule, curriculum and class to incorporate and implement AmeriChoice FCU’s program to ensure they reach every student in an entire grade level.
Student Branches & Teen Club
AmeriChoice FCU is also reaching youth through their student branches. The credit union allows students who run the branches to come up with innovative marketing techniques to attract fellow students. Ideas that have been implemented include video announcements with account incentives, informational tables at school related events and activities, and the creation of posters to communicate the credit union’s brand message.
Last year, AmeriChoice FCU launched the MyChoice Teen Club Account as an educational account which allows students to learn the terminology and options the financial industry has to offer. They have seen great success in helping teens understand the differences between credit unions and banks, learn how to get and why they need credit, as well as how to maintain a well-managed checking account with a debit card. Through quarterly newsletters as well as AmeriChoice FCU’s informational brochure, they reach approximately 1,200 teens on a quarterly basis with financial literacy through the MyChoice Teen Club. They have also instituted a variety of new products recently, allowing teens to access their accounts at their convenience. With services such as home banking and mobile banking, teens are learning how to transfer money and view account balances prior to overdrawing their account and using difference resources such as mint.com to track their spending habits.
Source: AmeriChoice FCU
Musicians play for students at one of AmeriChoice FCU's concerts for financial literacy.
Concerts for Financial Literacy
AmeriChoice FCU also brings the financial literacy message to the students through a very unique medium: music. The credit union partners with area school districts, music departments, entrepreneurship/business classes and Eloquent Online to execute concerts for financial literacy for all students and staff. The concert consists of school talent, selected from the school’s talent show, and professional musicians who will talk to the students about their experiences in managing their finances and why it is so important to be financially literate in today’s economy. There is also a PowerPoint presentation which runs throughout the concert showing different financial literacy statistics. The students who work for the credit union branch are an integral part of the day helping to promoting the concert as well as participating by throwing out concert t-shirts and signing up new members at the end of the concert.
“At AmeriChoice FCU, we have a very strong commitment to helping today’s students become tomorrow’s financially literate adults,” said Kim Dietrich, AmeriChoice FCU’s Financial Literacy Manager. “We are proud to be our community’s resource for financial education.”
A Foundation Grant at Work
NCUF Innovation Grants are made possible by supporters of the Foundation and the Community Investment Fund (CIF), an award-winning system of investments that help credit unions earn dividends while donating to national and state community development programs.
This “Grant at Work” is part of a series highlighting NCUF grantees making a positive impact in their community and empowering consumers to achieve financial independence through credit unions.
About the National Credit Union Foundation (ncuf.coop):
The National Credit Union Foundation is the US credit union movement’s primary national philanthropic program provider, fundraiser and grant-maker.
NCUF is funded primarily by investments in the award-winning Community Investment Fund (CIF) and by generous Supporters led by the Credit Union National Association and CUNA Mutual Group. All NCUF donors provide support that empowers NCUF and state credit union foundations to make a real impact in the credit union community.
NCUF continues to earn the Better Business Bureau seal of approval as an “Accredited Charity” for meeting all 20 BBB Wise Giving Alliance Standards for national charities.