Today’s young people need financial guidance from a trusted source in order to positively shape their financial futures. They need to learn the importance of saving, using and building credit, and managing their money. Credit unions recognize and understand the financial needs of our youth and work diligently to reach out to them in fun, creative, and meaningful ways. One of the many youth-centered credit union initiatives is CUNA’s National Credit Union Youth Week. Celebrated every April, Youth Week is a dedicated effort among credit unions to celebrate their young members and promote financial education.
Each year, Youth Week is celebrated in the spirit of a specific theme. This year’s slogan, "Be a Credit Union Super Saver," draws upon the superhero theme, a classic kid favorite. Credit union staff from around the country voted it as their #1 theme choice, and youth ranked it as one of their top two favorite themes. The superhero theme was suggested by Jennifer Moser, Member Service Representative at Union Pacific of Arkansas Federal Credit Union (North Little Rock, AR), and Kelsey Balcaitis, Community Education Specialist at A+ Federal Credit Union (Austin, TX). It is a fun, multifaceted theme, encouraging kids not only to be Super Savers but to be superheroes in their communities as well.
Youth Week Celebrations Abound!
Credit unions around the country will be showing youth and teens how to be super savers at their credit union as they celebrate with a variety of festivities from open houses to contests to youth appreciation days to parades to picnics to concerts to special promotions with giveaways and more! One simple and fun way for credit unions to celebrate and get young members excited about Youth Week is through the National Youth Saving Challenge. This is a nationwide contest developed and sponsored by CUNA in which hundreds of credit unions track youth savings deposits during the month of April in order to raise awareness about the importance of financial responsibility and the benefits of credit union membership.
Oxford Federal Credit Union (Mexico, ME) is celebrating Youth Week this year by encouraging youth, ages 0-17, to make a deposit into their Share account. By doing so, they can enter to win $50 which will be deposited into their share account. Youngsters can enter in the lobby at either the credit union’s branch offices, or new this year, online, for those who do their banking remotely.
According to Kimberly Davis, Marketing Coordinator, the credit union usually sees a slight increase in savings during Youth Week, which they welcome. “Our goal is to educate our youth on the importance of savings,” explains Davis. In addition to Youth Week activities, Oxford FCU reaches out to young members with programs at their schools throughout the year. They offer financial fitness fairs to all of the high schools in Oxford County, have a day-long event at Oxford Hills Middle School to teach students about checking accounts and debit cards, and offer several other in-school education opportunities.
Davis says that many adults, in addition to youth, don't know about credit unions and the many benefits of becoming a credit union member. “We feel it's important to educate our young people so they know the differences between credit unions and banks, and are able to make an informed decision about what to do with their money…we're confident that the more they know and understand, they will choose a credit union.”
Freedom Credit Union (Warminster, PA), in a continuing effort to educate young people about money matters, will also be teaching young people how to be super savers with their credit union during the week of April 22-28. According to Dana Feeney, Marketing Coordinator, Freedom will offer kid-friendly snacks, beverages, Youth Week coloring pages, toys and free educational materials to all young people who visit the branch locations during Youth Week.
Freedom representatives will be on hand as well, to answer questions and open youth accounts for those interested in becoming Members and taking advantage of a special offer for youth. For a limited time, Freedom is offering a $25 Refer-A-Member bonus for opening a youth account. When a young person, age 25 or under, is referred by a friend or family member, he or she will earn $25 just for joining.
Feeney noted that Freedom’s canine youth mascot, Dollar Dog, will also be making appearances at 4 of the credit union’s branches. “Kids really love Dollar Dog, and Youth Week is the perfect opportunity for them to “hang out” with him – and, with one of our branches situated right next to a school, the younger students there look forward to taking an after-school trip to Freedom for snacks, giveaways and fun!”
Freedom encourages young members to be Super Savers year-round with the help of their 3 dedicated youth websites and corresponding newsletters. “We are committed to helping young people learn about practical saving and spending, and making sound money management part of their everyday lives,” contends Feeney.
Kearney Federal Credit Union (Kearney, NE) turns Youth Week event into a month long celebration, participating in the National Youth Savings Challenge and a coloring contest all month. According to Stephanie Morosic, Marketing Assistant, for every youth account opened during April the credit union provides a super cool goodie cup with tons of prizes. Then they will step it up a notch during the actual week with goodies, treats, and decorations for all to enjoy. This year they are also rewarding adults with a loan discount when they bring in a child to make a deposit.
This year being Morosic’s 2nd year helping to organize Youth Week for her credit union, she really enjoys the excitement that the kids bring to the credit union. “It’s fun to watch our youth participate in their finances, like when they bring their piggy bank in to deposit into their account.”
Morosic says that at Kearney FCU they realize that youth are their future and they must start out with fun things to help them feel a part of their financial institution. “National Credit Union Youth Week is a great foundation to help build children’s awareness about finances - youth education helps bring in well-informed members in the future and also gives us something to make available for parents to help teach their kids about money,” explains Morosic.
In the same vein, at Kinecta Federal Credit Union (Manhattan Beach, CA), in celebration of Youth Week, when a youngster opens a new youth account, he or she gets $5.00 courtesy of the credit union as well as the chance to enter to win a Sea World Family of Four Playcation and is entered to win a $25 iTunes gift card.
Hudson River Community Credit Union (Corinth, NY), is marking Youth Week by inviting all youth members to show their creative side and participate in a variety of activities for a chance to win cool prizes! Children ages 1-5 can take part in the HRCCU Coloring Gallery by designing the Super Saver coloring form. Kids 6-12, for the chance to win a Flip Videocamera, are welcome to create a poster on the topic "Be a Credit Union SuperSaver” in the School Education Poster Challenge. Finally, for teens and young adults who would like the chance to win a Sony Playstation Vita game system can set their creativity on high by creating a short video telling others how they can "Be a Credit Union SuperSaver!” in the credit union’s Video Challenge.
Northland Area Federal Credit Union (Oscoda, MI) is calling all youth to stop in to the credit union and pick out a free prize from their Super Saver Surprise Box in honor of Youth Week. Also, for those members who deposit $5.00 into their account, NAFCU will match that first five dollar deposit. And, the first 25 youth members per branch to qualify for the $5.00 deposit match will receive a free Super Saver t-shirt!
2011 Success Stories
Last year, in honor of Youth Week, thousands of credit unions embraced the 2011 theme, showing young people that “Money Rocks” at their credit unions! The 2011 Youth Week celebrations and overwhelming participation in the National Youth Saving Challenge, encouraged young members to deposit a total of $28,545,723 between April 17 and 23, according to CUNA.
For example, Members First Community Credit Union (Quincy, IL), beat their goals with 50 deposits, 12 new accounts, and $2,490.73 saved. Kamehameha Federal Credit Union (Honolulu, HI) opened 13 new youth accounts for the month of April and had 21 deposits made to their new and existing youth savings accounts. And these are just two of many success stories from last year’s Youth Week celebrations.
Be a Credit Union Super Saver!
Credit unions are recognized as institutions dedicated to helping young members and their families through quality financial education. National Credit Union Youth Week is a great time for young people to develop responsible saving habits that can help them throughout their lives, and is the perfect time for credit unions to build positive relationships with young members in their community and emphasize the benefits of credit union membership. For information about your credit union’s celebration plans, check out their newsletter, website, and Facebook or Twitter pages. Have fun on your Super Saving missions and Happy National Credit Union Youth Week 2012!
By Cyndi Cohen