SMCU Develops Financial Education Program for Young Adults

Richard Romero saw a gap. He was volunteering with Year Up, an intensive 1-year education program for urban youth, mentoring a Year Up student and serving on the organization’s leadership committee.

As CEO of Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union, Romero was intimately aware of the importance of financial education, especially for young people. A recent report by EverFi and Higher One, organizations that conduct financial literacy programs, showed that students who take a financial literacy class are more averse to debt, more likely to pay credit card bills on time, and less likely to go over their credit limit than students who didn’t.

Romero thought that Year Up students could use more financial education, so he called in Doug Brisbon and Raina Troupe, who work in business development at SMCU. “There was interest in providing much needed financial education to their students,” said Brisbon.

Troupe worked with Brisbon and Year Up Puget Sound’s senior director to identify the most important concepts to teach the 18 to 24-year-old students, who all have high school diplomas or GEDs. They came up with four key topics:

  • The power of saving and compound interest;
  • The idea that financial stability and building wealth is the “long game;”
  • That it’s never too early to start a 401k or similar savings and investment vehicle; and
  • Banking basics such as checking and savings accounts.

Troupe called the finished curriculum “Financially Fit.”

“SMCU has provided numerous financial education events in the past,” said Brisbon, “however we did not have one that was a perfect fit for the Year Up students, so we created Financially Fit from the ground up.”

The first Financially Fit presentation took place at Year Up’s office in Belltown and was attended by over 50 students and staff. Troupe led the presentation and said she was pleasantly surprised by how much the Year Up students knew about managing their money.

“Teaching the class was a great reinforcement on how to manage money responsibly,” said Troupe. “I really enjoyed talking about how to use credit wisely and showing the true cost of things when you abuse credit.” 

Brisbon noted that “financial education is one of the most impactful responsibilities of the Business Development team here at SMCU. These concepts are vital to establishing a sound financial base for people to become Financially Fit.”

Financially Fit won accolades from Washington State Representative Cindy Ryu, (D-32), who recently praised the program in an email to her legislative colleagues, calling it “very practical and yet effective.”

Year Up Puget Sound Executive Director Lisa Chin said the “Financially Fit program has enabled us to augment our program offerings to include financial literacy. SMCU supports our students as they work to not only begin their career, but to take steps toward a financially sound future.”

SMCU is now working on a three-part educational series that will be completed in coordination with Year Up’s year-long program.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

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