Today, the three branches serve about 100 students and staff in the Syracuse City School District.
Thomas Dellwo, the financial education coordinator for Cooperative Federal, said the primary objective of school credit unions is to provide savings accounts to students, and to encourage them to save some of the money they earn regularly. Dellwo said the organization also aims to help students avoid having to pay to cash their checks, as well as to help students feel comfortable with mainstream financial institutions.
“So many students in the SCSD work, but pay a fee to cash their checks and have nowhere to save money because they don’t form a relationship with a financial institution,” he stated. “Our mission is to serve those undeserved by traditional financial institutions, and our in-school branch program is part of meeting that mission by helping connect students with basic savings accounts and encouraging them to learn the habit of saving. We bring the branch to a place where they feel comfortable, their school, to bridge that gap.”
Henninger vice principal Ed Blasland helped bring the credit union branches to Fowler and Henninger high schools. As a former business teacher, Blasland said he knew the need to expose students to the branches was critical.
“Often, our students—and many of us—get to college and haven’t been taught how to save, how to have a checking and savings account,l and what are the good and bad of credit buy propranolol 10 mg cards,” he stated. “We wanted to give our students that. Students said, ‘Wow, I never thought of putting my money into the bank.’ The benefit is that learning piece; they learn that saving is a good thing.”
Blasland said students also help staff the credit unions, as well as spread the word to other students, through advertising and marketing campaigns, to encourage them to sign up.
Jessica Graves had been a student volunteer at Cooperative Federal before her graduation from Fowler in 2010. For her, she said the school credit union sparked a career. In her senior year of high school, Graves served as a teller in her school’s Cooperative Federal branch.
Then, after graduation, the branch hired her for the summer; and now, she’s a loan clerk at ACMG Federal Credit Union.
According to Graves, her experience with the school credit union taught her the financial basics she now uses in her profession.
“Being exposed to the credit union as a high school student taught me a lot,” she stated. “It gave me customer service and cash handling skills, interpersonal skills and helped build my confidence.”
Organizers said they hope to add more hands-on experiences for students, as school credit unions continue to expand, and to find ways to integrate financial literacy into mainstream curriculum in order to reach more students.
According to SCSD officials, students who would like to enroll in their schools’ credit unions should visit their schools’ branch. Those students should also bring their student IDs, know their social security number, and will be asked to pay a $7 fee, officials said.