BECU and Financial Beginnings Bring Free Fin-Ed to Seattle Youth

BECU is partnering with leading financial education nonprofit Financial Beginnings to bring free, easy-to-access financial education to more children and young adults in the Seattle area.

Financial Beginnings was founded 10 years ago by Melody Bell in Portland. Today they serve 25,000 children and young adults every year in Oregon and Southwest Washington, connecting classrooms with great curriculum and qualified volunteers to teach it. Now, Financial Beginnings is expanding to Seattle with BECU as its “Initiative Investor.”

BECU and Financial Beginnings will reach out to schools and credit unions throughout the Seattle area, connecting schools that desire good financial education with financial services professionals willing to volunteer to provide it. They provide volunteers with curriculum and an orientation on how to make the material sing for each grade level.

“We take care of all the logistical stuff,” said Bell. “People in credit unions are committed to providing financial education, but sometimes it’s hard to connect with schools and find good curriculum. We have great materials for every age level and a website that takes the hassle out of connecting with schools.”

Plus, she added, “it doesn’t cost a thing for the schools.”

For BECU, it’s a great opportunity to expand on the work they are already doing. “We’ve had financial educators in high school classrooms for decades,” said Todd Pietzsch, BECU’s manager of public relations. “But there are only so many kids a few employees can reach. This is a way to scale our commitment to financial education.”

Rachel Van Noord, BECU’s manager of financial education, said that teaching personal finance is deeply ingrained in the credit union’s DNA. It’s something they offer to their members continuously. “This gives us a chance to tap into that same resource not only for members, but also for students,” she said. “It lets us get our staff out into the community to do what they do best.”

Plus, she said, the curriculum used by Financial Beginnings is very similar to what BECU uses every day. “We’ve been incorporating their curriculum into our work and the response is great,” she said.

Van Noord said that BECU is even working on a way to give staff more flexibility during the workday to do this sort of volunteer work.

Volunteer orientations have already begun and volunteer opportunities will start appearing on the Financial Beginnings website in a matter of weeks. Credit union staff across the region is welcome and encouraged to volunteer. More information is available at the Financial Beginnings website

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790,

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