As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Elevations Credit Union is committed to education and financial literacy at all life stages. And it’s never too early. In fact, research suggests that the elementary years may be the window of opportunity during which education can influence financial behavior in later life.
Unfortunately, we still don’t have a national standard for financial literacy in school curricula, and statistics starkly identify the need. In a 2015 George Washington University study, only a quarter of 23- to 35-year-old respondents showed basic financial literacy, while eight percent showed a high level of knowledge. Just 22 percent of the respondents received some form of financial education. These facts become even more drastic when you consider that student loan debt is at an all-time high, and 7 out of 10 undergraduates have substantially damaged their credit rating by the time they graduate.
Elevations doesn’t take these statistics lightly. If we’re to succeed as a community and a nation, we need more emphasis on financial literacy at an earlier age.
Elevations partners with the St. Vrain Valley School District to provide financial literacy programs in the classroom. Elevations staff provides students with the financial knowledge necessary for real-life situations including saving, budgeting, credit, purchasing a car, identity theft protection, leadership, economics, career planning, entrepreneurial skills, and more.
In addition, Elevations provides funds for more than 2,400 St. Vrain students to attend Young Ameritowne and Junior Achievement Finance Park. These interactive programs give kids real-life skills. Students balance their checkbooks and learn how to prioritize their spending. They even create a fully functioning town and assume the roles of mayor, police officer, business and community leader, etc.
A second-grader from Blue Mountain Elementary was at an Elevations branch with her mother after one of our recent presentations. Her mom said that her daughter could not stop talking about the presentation and was eager to open her first savings account. This young lady learned the difference between needs and wants, how a savings account works, the magic of interest, and why she should start early to adopt good money management habits.
Anyone 12 years of age and under who open a savings account at Elevations receive 3 different colored vinyl envelopes to help them follow through on the important concept of saving, spending and sharing their money.
Take pride in knowing that your credit union is proactive with financial literacy. At the end of the day, we owe it to our kids to start them out on the right foot. If not well-equipped, young people end up becoming another statistic of the financial services landscape. If you have the opportunity, tell our educators to start sooner rather than later with this important curriculum.