Credit Unions Help Create Brighter Futures for Kids

Credit unions’ year-round work to provide financial education pays off, as people learn to manage their finances and make better budgeting decisions. That includes coaching children to save.

It’s working.

Whether by depositing Grandma’s birthday checks, earnings from doing their household chores, or money their parents set aside for them, kids had saved $284 million in 400,000 children’s savings accounts by the end of 2019, according to the NWCUA’s recent Community Impact Report.

A common formula at credit unions is one that provides — no pun intended — rich financial education, fun incentives, and a caring for the community component.

“Investing in our youngest members’ financial health is essential,” said Gene Pelham, President and CEO at Medford-based Rogue Credit Union. “Our Rogue Rangers Kids Club is an engaging program for young members. It not only teaches kids to save smartly, but to spend wisely and give generously.”

The Rogue Rangers Kids Club was established in 2017 and is designed for children from birth to 11 years old. Each time a member deposits $1 or more, they receive a punch or digital punch card, and for every five punches, they earn $2 into their high-yield ownership account. Each quarter, Pelham says, Rogue hosts engaging activities for club members in the branches. The Rogue Ranger Badge Program offers an activity challenge booklet to young members. When they complete all three challenges — spending wisely for things they need, saving for goals, and giving to worthy causes — they receive the Ranger Badge.

Rogue and numerous other credit unions across the Northwest, provided financial education to more than 190,000 youth, according to data collected in the NWCUA Community Impact Reporting Tool (CIRT) last year.

In Idaho, Westmark Credit Union’s financial education curriculum was taught to more 5,400 children in local schools.

“We provide financial education to over 130 schools throughout the state, and we invest about $80,000 in these programs,” said Polly Simpson, Chief Marketing Officer. “In addition, we have an Education Specialist who schedules classroom presentations with teachers, and we offer a fun and educational financial literacy experience for youth.”

Vancouver-based iQ Credit Union has walked its branding talk for decades, and continuously builds on its offerings.

“What is good can always be great,” said Tim Walley, Education Programs Supervisor.

Just last month, the credit union revamped its youth accounts program by adding education boxes.

“Kids who open accounts with us become young explorers and get a fun, interactive education box filled with activities and prizes,” Walley said. “Every 10 deposits into the new account earns them a new themed box.”

The boxes must be hot items, because since early March, the credit union has opened 303 new youth account memberships, with deposits totaling nearly $130,000.

The spotlight is shining on helping people manage their money during the annual April “Financial Literacy Month,” but clearly, that work is an everyday for priority for credit unions.

Editor’s note: Data demonstrating credit unions’ financial education work and other impact helps raise awareness and advance policy. The Community Impact Reporting Tool portal will open May 10, for collection of your 2020 data. More information can be found here. Thank you to all credit unions who provided information for the 2019 and special COVID-19 impact reports. We need and appreciate your support once again! A robust library of resources is available to help your team celebrate credit unions’ economic and community impact. With more participation in CIRT this year, the library will expand.

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