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Banking on success

ESM and CORE FCU team up to educate students, community about financial literacy

Jacob Keuler, right, makes a deposit during Banking Day at Minoa Elementary School in2009. High school business students get hands on experience running the program with the CORE Federal Credit Union and serving as mentors to younger students. Earlier this month, ESM High School’s student-run credit union, the Spartan Branch, collected its millionth dollar deposited by students.

Jacob Keuler, right, makes a deposit during Banking Day at Minoa Elementary School in2009. High school business students get hands on experience running the program with the CORE Federal Credit Union and serving as mentors to younger students. Earlier this month, ESM High School’s student-run credit union, the Spartan Branch, collected its millionth dollar deposited by students. Submitted photo

From humble beginnings to $1 million

Back in 2004, CORE FCU, which has served ESM for 55 years as the district’s credit union, approached the school district with the idea of starting a student-run credit union, which, at the time, was not something that was being done in many schools. “We knew that the district has always been very focused on looking for hands-on, real life experiences,” said CORE CEO Bill Sweeney.

That proposal became a reality and the Spartan Branch began operations at the beginning of the 2005 school year. The credit union, which was first run by 15 students enrolled in a money and banking class, has grown into a big part of student life at ESM, with contributions from dozens of students in several different classes who all play a pivotal role in the branch’s success, Sweeney said.

Many students still first get involved through the money and banking class, where they go through a rotation each week so each student gets the chance to be a teller at the branch. Meanwhile, the other students enrolled in the class are back in the classroom learning basic financial skills.

But not just anyone can work at the Spartan Branch – just like at all of CORE’s other branches, the students must prepare resumes, go through an interview process and get formal training from an FCU employee before they can perform the day-to-day operations.

Marketing students play a key role in the branch’s success each year by putting together promotions within the school to generate awareness of the Spartan Branch and to focus on things that promote financial literacy.

“They operate very much like a Madison Avenue marketing company,” said Sweeney. “At the beginning of the year, our marketing director and I visit the school and they make pitches to us, basically saying, ‘Here are our ideas for the marketing program this year.’”

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