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CUNA: Youth Week is 'golden moment'
MADISON, Wis. (1/11/13)--Credit unions can build the strength of their overall portfolios by attracting young members, according to Joanne Sepich, Credit Union National Association (CUNA) youth week coordinator.

National Credit Union Youth Week, April 21-27, is another opportunity to build that strength.

National Credit Union Youth Week was created by CUNA as an opportunity for credit unions nationwide to focus on the financial needs of young people and provide financial literacy education. The event focuses on teaching the benefits of saving and goal setting, and invites youth to open savings accounts at their credit union and make deposits throughout the year.

This year's theme, "Savings Sleuth: Solve the Mystery," will draw in youth (and adults) with the fun of mystery and mustaches. There's a "Collect the Clues" kit of clue posters and activity sheets credit unions can pair up with prizes.

Savings Sleuth: Solve the Mystery materials include financial education content, fun items to reward young members and bright, neon-colored apparel to dress the part in April. Several items from last year's campaign were successful enough to have been carried over to the 2013 line-up, including the magic color-changing mood cup and the Quarter Saver Folder, which holds $5 in quarters and boasts a positive message on saving.

Gaining young members and keeping them through the lifetime product cycle is a worthy goal for the future, but it's parents and grandparents who deliver children to branch locations, Sepich wrote in a column on CUInsight (Jan. 10).

"This is a golden moment," Sepich said. "If the child has a nice experience in the branch and walks out with prize, a treat, and a savings account, you've scored two huge wins. That child has started the path of lifelong membership, and that grown-up's loyalty to your credit union has just soared."

April is Financial Literacy Month, Sepich noted. She recommended credit unions work this to their advantage by rewarding each adult who brings in a child to make a deposit. Rewards could range from budget-  or college-savings planning tools to a discount on loan fees.

Because National Credit Union Youth Week occurs during Financial Literacy Month, credit unions can extend their youth activities throughout April. CUNA conducts the National Youth Saving Challenge the entire month of April. The challenge rewards 10 savers with $100 cash prizes. Last April, 241 credit unions joined the Saving Challenge and engaged 125,867 youth, who deposited a collective $21.3 million in their credit union savings accounts, including 7,300 new member accounts.

In 2000, The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy began promoting April as Financial Literacy for Youth Month. In 2003, the U.S. Senate designated April as Financial Literacy for Youth Month.

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