MADISON, Wis. (8/22/11)--Several credit unions nationwide have geared up back-to-school programs to help students smoothly transition from summer vacation into the start of the school year. When Wisconsin students from the elementary grades through high school go back to school this fall, they’ll learn money management by operating 95 credit union branches inside Wisconsin schools. Youth-run branches now account for around 18% of the offices operated by the state’s 212 credit unions. Their more than 5,500 young savers have stashed close to $3 million in deposit accounts. That’s up from $2 million just a year ago. “Teachers know that credit unions’ motivation is in people, not profits, and the trust in credit unions has provided a best practice for teaching hands-on financial skills in schools statewide,” said Brett Thompson, president/CEO of the Wisconsin Credit Union League. The state Department of Public Instruction has defined competencies for personal finance that students should acquire by grades 4, 8 and 12. Schools with limited resources have used credit union support to advance their own financial education efforts at no additional costs to taxpayers, the Wisconsin league said. Other examples are:
* United Labor CU (ULCU), Kansas City, saw the back-to-school season as the perfect time to launch its Financial U for Apprenticeship Programs (FinU), a turnkey financial planning program that reaches new workers in union trades (The Missouri difference Aug. 16) . As students are learning how to become the best in the business in union construction trades, they can learn how to be a more informed and intelligent consumer in the same classroom setting. FinU has seven modules that address creating short-term and long-term financial plans, basic budgeting, investing for the future, managing credit, protecting assets using financial services, personal insurance and understanding employment and retirement benefits. Each module has an accompanying audio-visual presentation, workbook, CD and certificate of completion for each student, and is taught by competent financial professionals led by ULCU President Tim Vogler. * The July Monthly Media Talking Points, created by the Ohio Credit Union League, focuses on the timely topic of managing back-to-school expenses (eLumination Newsletter Aug. 10). The monthly talking points can be used to help start conversations with local media. A template press release of the tips is available for credit unions to customize and send to local newspapers and radio and television stations. The month’s Media Watch shares seven public relations rules in today’s minute-to-minute information-gathering society that a credit union should apply to its communications (The Missouri difference Aug. 9) . * Vantage CU, St. Louis, collected “Tools For Learning” for hundreds of area children, who will head back to school with new school supplies. In an effort to help those less fortunate, Vantage will collect school supplies through Aug. 31 to benefit KidSmart, an educational supply store providing teachers with free school supplies for students in area classrooms (The Missouri difference Aug. 9). * Kansas City CU recently held a school supply drive to Support Della Lamb Community Services. Each year, the drive begins in conjunction with the credit union’s KidsFest. Members and employees donate supplies and funds to support the back-to-school needs of local students (The Missouri difference Aug. 9). * Educational Community Credit Union (ECCU), Kalamazoo, Mich., is participating in “Operation School Supplies,” a program to benefit students in each ECCU office’s school district. The success of Operation School Supplies depends on the generosity of community residents to drop off school supplies at any ECCU branch through Aug. 31 for students who cannot purchase what they need. The local business partners of Operation School Supplies are asking the community to donate or purchase supplies such as backpacks, pencils, rulers and paper, but the credit union will collect any school supplies. Supplies will be distributed to kids in each ECCU branch’s school district.