Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union, Home of the Kids’ Credit Union
John Felton, CEO of Southern Chautauqua FCU, has a 212 degree goal. “At 212 degrees hot water turns to steam. If we can get 212 classrooms involved before the end of this calendar year, we’ll have worked up a full head of steam and be well on our way to helping more kid’s get a good start in life,” says John.
The Southern Chautauqua Kid’s Credit Union (KCU) began in 2004 with the goal of helping Chautauqua County students save for the future while learning about financial responsibility. Beginning in the second grade KCU’s school program has a savings goal for each academic year and includes a monthly financial literacy lesson. Lesson plans include topics like the importance of saving, goal setting and good credit.
Children who join KCU in the second grade, and meet their annual savings goals, graduate with $10,000. Member students can use their savings to go on to college, but there are no restrictions on the money’s use. Research has shown that students who have a savings account for the purpose of attending college are more likely to go to college and graduate. KCU has become so popular that its membership has expanded to include children of all ages who have an immediate family member that lives, works, worships or attends school in Chautauqua County.
Here’s how it works: There’s a savings goal for each grade–$200 for second graders, $300 for third graders, $400 for fourth graders, etc. Children may make deposits at any of the 5 SCFCU branches or at their school from July through June. There is no minimum deposit. A SCFCU representative collects and records deposits from participating schools. If a child meets his yearly savings goal, the savings are converted into a Certificate of Deposit issued in July each year, maturing in December of the student’s graduating year. Parents can even make a $100 annual deposit for children up to the age of 6.
Today SCFCU has 6 participating school districts and 600 KCU accounts. This past school year 1,541 deposits totaling $95,860 have been made. Since its inception KCU deposits have exceeded $334,000.
“Running our KCU is a big commitment financially” says John. “We have a part-time coordinator about half of whose time is spent preparing and presenting classroom lessons. The remaining half is spent traveling to schools, collecting deposits and administering the program.” But for John and SCFCU’s members, the Kid’s Credit Union is central to their commitment to the Southern Chautauqua community. “We’re helping the next generation build wealth. We’re teaching our kids personal responsibility, the value of saving, the difference between what you want and what you need and how to calculate the cost of getting what you want. Kids are learning how to make major purchases and are learning the power and pitfalls of debit and credit cards. In the end, financial security is not about how much money you make. We’re teaching kids it’s what you do with the money you have that’s important.”
To learn more about Southern Chautauqua’s Kid’s Credit Union, including the Share Certificate Schedule and sample lesson plans can contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org.