St. Cloud Federal Credit Union brings financial literacy tools to schools
ST. CLOUD, Minn. – Area high schools will soon have the option of using an online financial literacy program to teach students basic money management skills thanks to a sponsorship agreement by a local credit union.
The St. Cloud Federal Credit Union plans to offset the costs of workbooks and other paper materials used in conjunction with the money management software, Banzai. The support would go to high schools in Stearns and Benton counties.
“This is a new partnership for us,” said Sarah Mason, vice president of brand and marketing for the credit union. “We started initiating the conversation in the spring and will be implementing the actual program in the fall.”
Mason said the credit union has helped teach financial literacy in Sartell and Sauk Rapids high schools, but this will be the first time using Banzai.
“It’s a really neat program based on real-life scenarios,” Mason said.
Banzai started seven years ago as a way to prepare high school students to take control of financial situations. Banzai spokeswoman Jessica Reece said the program educates young people on money management by providing a safe place to test their budgeting skills.
The Banazi program starts by assessing students on their current level of finance education. Students work online and use workbooks to walk through scripted scenarios such as budgeting for rent and car maintenance. After students get the general idea, Reece said, they can start playing the game.
Students are required to learn how to save money while juggling day-to-day expenses.
“Students will have to make their own decisions,” Reece said. “There is actually no identical game experience. With the decisions the students make, there are enough scenarios (to make the game unique).”
Students are given an assessment to evaluate what they learned at the end of the game.
“It sort of gives kids the idea of what real world experiences are,” said Leslie Lane, manager of the credit union’s Sartell branch. “It shows you what you deal with as an adult. At times you may just want something, but you have to figure out how to make it work financially.”
Mason said St. Cloud Federal Credit Union has invested about $1,000 in printed materials for teachers. Employees of the credit union have volunteered to speak to students about personal finance topics.
“This helps us promote financial education,” Mason said. “It takes money from a conceptual idea to a real-life concept.”
The Banzai program has been implemented in 20 percent of high schools across the nation and is used by over 14,000 educators.
Teachers and school districts in Stearns and Benton counties interested in implementing the Banzai program can learn more about the program by visiting stcloudfcu.teachbanzai.com.
Teachers interested in using the Banzai program can visit teachbanzai.com or call 888-8-BANZAI.