From elementary schools to high schools, banks across the country are installing branches where students learn how to run a bank.
Amidst continued consternation over the lack of financial literacy among today’s American youth, some schools are inviting banks to set up shop in their hallways.
Student-run banks are popping up in low-income, immigrant-heavy neighborhoods in southern California, and the concept is gathering steam nationally.
In most cases, these are not banks for profit. While they do advertise brands, they serve as teaching tools, allowing students to participate as managers and account executives to learn the ins and outs of banking. In many cases, students are offered a stipend or college scholarship money to work at the bank.
As of March 2014, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said there were dozens of student-run banks nationally, and the National Credit Union Association says there are almost 400 credit unions running branches in schools.
At Lincoln High School in Los Angeles, the Union Bank office allows students, teachers or parents to open accounts and make deposits and withdrawals the way the outside world does.
“It taught me a lot of new things,’’ said Jerry Liu, a senior at Lincoln High, in an interview with National Public Radio. “I was really worried about finances (before) I go off to college, and it opened my eyes to a lot of the new world.”
“I thought the innovation of the student-run bank would be something that fits into our mission of college-ready, career-prepared graduates,’’ said Monica Garcia, a board member of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
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There are hundreds of bank branches and credit unions open in high schools across the United States today. In some cases, special classes are taught at the senior level in high school, and students from that class are chosen to run the banks.
In the spring of 2014, Capital One opened student-run banks in four schools located in Maryland, New York and New Jersey.
“We are looking at the students to not only run the branch entirely, but to teach their fellow students about money management skills such as savings and budgeting,’’ said area market president Dale Skinner of Capital One.
Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union has opened dozens of banks in high schools from Tampa to Naples, Fla., and now several schools have ATMs that operate only within the school’s special bank system. Every time Suncoast opens a bank in a high school, they donate $5 to the accounts of the first 50 students who open accounts.
“The real benefit for them will be when they are adults,’’ said Naples High School math teacher Nancy DeFurio when her school’s branch opened. “They will learn you shouldn’t spend more than you make.”
In Fairfax County, Va., Cardinal Bank opened a student-run bank in the Oakton Elementary School, where students can participate in banking activities for half an hour one day a week. Fifth graders at the school are offered “jobs’’, which they will perform with the help of Cardinal employees.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to educate students about money management and good savings skills,’’ said Cardinal Bank President F. Kevin Reynolds. “Our school partnerships provide a workplace experience for students to learn skills in leadership, marketing and serving others.”
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.