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Grant To Mid-Minnesota FCU Expands Personal Finance Classes

BAXTER, Minn. (6/20/13)--Mid-Minnesota FCU (MMFCU) in Baxter, Minn., will broaden its personal finance offerings this fall by making its educational classes available online, as part of an existing course offered by Central Lakes College in Brainerd, Minn.

Click to view larger image Mid-Minnesota FCU staff teach personal finance courses in several area schools as part of the credit union's "education network," established in 2008.  (Photo provided by the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation)

A grant from the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation funds the classes.

Through its newly established Financial Education Grant Program, the foundation made its inaugural award to MMFCU to assist with the transition to online learning.

"By partnering with local schools and the community, it furthers our vision of helping the community and future members," said MMFCU President/CEO Chuck Albrecht. "Students who are financially well-educated prosper and thrive in the long run."

In 2008, MMFCU launched its Education Network program to educate members on subjects such as identity theft and online banking. The program expanded to Brainerd High School and has since grown to a 13-week personal finance course offered every semester at the school. It touches every junior and senior in the school.

"We want to expand our offerings to provide financial education to young adults at a time when these topics have been cut from schools' curriculum due to budget cuts," said Jill Carlson-Ferrie, MMFCU director of learning and development. "By building relationships with local schools, we have the opportunity to fill that void."

MMFCU provides all the classroom materials, including worksheets, handouts and a folder of reference materials for students to discuss with their parents. Classes cover:

  • The difference between credit unions and banks;
  • Saving, investing and managing money;
  • Establishing and maintaining credit;
  • Identity theft;
  • Applying for a loan; and
  • Buying a car and insurance.

Carlson-Ferrie said that the credit union does not use the classroom exposure to sell the credit union or market to the students, but rather views its community participation as a part of MMFCU's mission and drive.

The knowledge gained by students is evident, through post-course evaluation conducted through the schools, MMFCU said. At the end of the personal finance classes, many of the schools ask students to write a letter to their principal listing the top five lessons they learned. Some schools also have students write letters to their legislators to stress the importance of personal finance education. 

Outreach that raises financial education awareness also raises awareness of credit unions. Raising awareness is one of the three foundations--along with removing barriers and fostering service excellence--of the national Unite for Good campaign aimed at achieving credit unions' strategic vision in which Americans choose credit unions as their best financial institution, according to the Credit Union National Association.

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