START Bank’s Lynn Smith sent in this write-up about a recent financial awareness class the bank taught to teens:
Working with Dr. Abie Benitez, Principal, and Ms. Cortney Costa, algebra teacher, Start Community Bank has ‘adopted’ the 8th grade graduating class of the Columbus Family Academy.
Employees of the bank including Bill Placke, CEO, Lynn Smith, SVP, Adela Martinez, SVP of Operations and Retail Banking conducted multiple classes over a three-week period during late April and early May in the school with a focus on being aware of how important making smart decisions about money will be throughout their lives.
The first class concentrated around knowing the difference between want and need. Teams had a $1,000 budget and a list of supplies, and they have to carefully decide what supplies a family of four would need to survive on a deserted island for four months and win a $25,000 prize. Toothpaste or matches? Canned food or toilet paper? A tarp or an iPod? This exercise then lead to a discussion about budgets, savings, planning for a rainy day, saving for a special goal like college.
The second class centered around consequences – a library card is loaned out, and the books are lost. An iPad is borrowed, and the dog chews the corner. What happens when we make a decision? What about peer pressure? and what are the consequences of poor choices? Late fees, overdraft fees, and the consequences of a bad credit history and bad credit scores became a part of that day’s classroom work.
The third class was Bank accounts 101 – how to write a check, how to fill out a deposit slip, how to balance a checkbook. Reading the fine print was part of the day’s work – can you really get a cellphone for a penny? Is freecredit report.com really free? What is an overdraft fee and how do I avoid it? What’s a good credit score, and how do I work towards earning one?
On May 17th the students, about 35 of them, came to the Grand Avenue branch of the bank, right across the street from the school. Three Learning Stations were set up, and the students were divided into three teams and moved from station to station. The first was an opportunity to grill the bank’s loan officers Tom Whitbread and Jeff Chipokas on everything from what skills their jobs required to how a decision is made on a loan, and how much money a loan officer makes.
Learning Station #2 was a chance to see behind the teller line. The students had a tough math quiz as part of this stop – they had to settle their cash draw and make sure it was correct to the penny before moving on.
Learning Station #3 gave the students a behind the scenes look at how an ATM functions. It was also an opportunity to discuss banking in the future – will we become a cashless and checkless economy? Will we still put a PIN into the machine to make it work, or will we just tap our cellphone on a pad and wait for our money to be dispensed? And why would anyone put an ATM in McMurdo Station in Antartica, anyway?
After everyone completed the Learning Stations, it was time to talk about taking control of money, resisting peer pressure to buy, buy, buy, and starting a disciplined savings plan. Each student was given a coupon good for the opening deposit of a Start Community Bank Early Start savings account. $1.00 to open and earn interest, no monthly service charge, and a current APY 1.00 percent!
Refreshments were served, Loot Camp diplomas were presented to each student by CEO Placke, and the students left the branch with a brand new T Shirt and a deeper understanding of the banking system, the important role that a community bank plays in the community, and thoughts of perhaps one day serving the Fair Haven community as a banker who uses local deposits to make local loans and keep the small business economy going!