Credit Union Week: Northeast Credit Union helps educate NH’s future consumers
With high school graduation come cakes, cards and congratulatory parties for students in local communities. However, graduation can also bring a big reality check for young people as they step into the real world.
Northeast Credit Union is a proud supporter of a financial literacy program in selected New Hampshire junior high and high schools. The goal is to better prepare local students by providing them with a solid understanding of how to manage their money by giving them the tools necessary to make smart money decisions as they venture out on their own.
The collaboration started in 2011 between Northeast Credit Union and Banzai — an award-winning financial literacy program — along with dedicated educators in the communities of Portsmouth, Rochester and Manchester.
Through the use of Life Scenarios workbooks and interactive online tools, students in the financial education program were exposed to real-life adult financial dilemmas. From navigating taxes or paying auto insurance to situations like paying for concert tickets, dealing with an overdraft, and even just paying for gas, students had to work through real-world spending decisions that required them to think critically and analytically.
In discussing why Northeast Credit Union initiated the collaboration and its decision to make the program available to schools at no cost, Northeast Credit Union President and CEO Peter Kavalauskas said, “Over 1,580 students to date have learned the value of a dollar and how to spend and save wisely. We have a deep commitment to providing financial education for members of our community and believe strongly in the credit union motto of ‘people helping people.’ Teachers need a resource for an often-mandated, but also often-underfunded, curriculum of financial literacy in the classroom. We are very excited about this opportunity to join together to help educate teens and prepare for financial success.”
Feedback from educators about the NECU sponsored program has been overwhelmingly positive. Vera P. Haus, a business and economics educator at Portsmouth High School, said, “The students really love the program. The workbooks and online tools are great for teaching the students to think carefully about budgeting and making choices about how they will earn, spend, and save their money.”
Joseph Lachance, a family and consumer science teacher at Memorial High School in Manchester, said, “The real-life scenarios provided thought-provoking situations which the students had the opportunity to find a solution to and then discuss outcomes.”
While the Banzai program focuses on junior high and high school students, Northeast Credit Union believes it’s never too early to start learning about saving money. NECU developed the Smart Savings Kid’s Club for children 12 or younger. The Kid’s Club is led by NECU’s mascot, Billy the Bear, who helps children learn how to save money in a fun way. Children who join the Kid’s Club receive a membership card, a Billy the Bear coloring book, a birthday card from Billy with a gift of $5 deposited into their account and a great savings account rate. “We felt it was important to develop a way to communicate smart money management skills with children 12 and younger,” said Andrea Pruna, Northeast’s vice president of marketing. “While the Banzai program focuses on students in the higher grades, our focus with Billy and the Kid’s Club is in elementary schools. Billy visits schools across the state plus he is very popular at local community events, too. Kids love him and it’s a great way to teach financial education”
Teachers interested in using the Banzai program can visit teachbanzai.com or call 888-8-BANZAI.