//Home / Solutions / Youth & Young Adults / Youth Credit Unions

Student Credit Union

Credit Union :Prairie Trail
Assets :$59,418,800
Address :2350 W Mcdonough | Joliet, IL 60436
Start Date :Fall 2008

Rates, Fees, and Terms :

User Qualifications :

Prairie Trail Credit Union (PTCU) partnered with Joliet Township High School District to facilitate two student-run credit union branches in the district’s two high schools. The student branches are called JT Credit Union and are open to students and staff. The student branches are operated by seniors in the school’s Coop Work Program that enables seniors to work jobs in the afternoons. Since the credit union branches are open and staffed during student lunch hours, these seniors are allowed to vary their schedules to attend classes before and after working at JTCU. Four students (two from each campus) travel alternating days to each campus to staff the credit union. These students are paid by PTCU.

Students and staff can join the credit union with an initial deposit of $5 and have three months to bring the balance up to the CU’s membership share of $25.

Services Provided :

* Deposits, withdrawals, check cashing, open new accounts * Can apply for checking, debit, and credit cards, with a signature of parent or guardian * Process mail payments received from the main branch

Vendors/Systems Used :

All transactions are in real-time, on-line, using two lap tops and a teller counter.

Marketing Strategy :

The branches are marketed within the schools using:
  • Posters on bulletin boards
  • Announcements on P.A. system
  • School and credit union websites
  • Fliers in teachers’ mailboxes
  • In student cafeteria using brochure racks
  • Parent e-mails
  • School newspapers
  • Students set-up at a table to talk with/market to students in the cafeteria

Program Results/Statistics :

  • 130 new accounts have been opened since the branches opened in September 2008.
  • The accounts have been spread evenly between the two campuses: 68 at Central Campus and 62 at West Campus
  • 91 new student accounts; 39 staff accounts; 32 checking accounts
  • Presentations have been made to approximately 560 students

Member Benefits :

  • Students and staff are able to manage their financial business on-site during school hours
  • Students who staff the credit union gain teller, marketing and financial experience

Additional Information :

The Treasurer of Will County in Illinois who was a member of Prairie Trail CU and a former board member of Joliet Township School District brought people together in 2007 to discuss the idea of a student-run credit union branch. He had heard about a program coordinated by Dory Rand, then of the Shriver Center and now President of the Woodstock Institute. As part of the Curie Branch Education to Careers program, high school students operated a full-service bank branch inside a Chicago public high school. The Treasurer was very interested in helping youth become more financially literate and proposed the student-run branches in the district’s high schools.

Deanna Wolff, a 10-year credit union veteran and a certified teacher, was chosen to oversee the project and in May 2008, both the credit union and school boards approved the partnership. Wolff is now the branch supervisor of JT Credit union and oversees the two campus branches, which opened in September 2008. The credit union received a $15,000 grant from the Illinois Credit Union Foundation, which was used to outfit the two branches for operations.

Wolff provides the training for the four senior students which come from the school’s Coop Work Program. The students staff the branches throughout the year, but each year requires new recruitment and training. The students enjoy helping their peers and teachers, but often have limited financial experience, notes Wolff. “I help them understand the differences among a variety of products and services,” says Wolff, “such as the difference between a secured and unsecured loan.” Student employees are selected based on their GPA and attendance record. “If they have other work history, that helps a lot,” explains Wolff. “They have at least learned the basics of holding a job, such as being on time.”

The branches currently operate two days a week at each campus location for approximately 3 ½ hours. Two students from each location travel alternately to the other high school so that four students are manning the branches each day. Wolff thinks the branches would be more effective if they were each open four days a week and she hopes there will be resources in the future that can make that happen. Students forget what day it is and that the branch is open this day. “There could be more activity and awareness created around the branches if they were each open four days,” states Wolff.