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Student Credit Union

Credit Union :Marion And Polk Schools Credit Union (aka MaPS CU)
Assets :$271,590,000
Address :Po Box 12398 | Salem, OR 97309
Start Date :April 1995

Rates, Fees, and Terms :

User Qualifications :

MaPS CU has three student-run branches located in area high schools. Any student or teacher at these schools can use the branch, but the branch itself is staffed by students in the high schools’ Business and Management classes. Running the credit union is part of the class curriculum, and students receive credit for their work.

Services Provided :

  • For the most part, all services provided at any other branch of the credit union.
  • Most services include deposits, withdrawals, opening savings/checking/debit accounts
  • Loans are made to cover school related items such as woodworking project supplies, school jackets, school supplies, etc.

Vendors/Systems Used :

The student branches are designed as mini-versions of the CU’s regular branches with a teller line and financial services person. Similar security measures are followed. The branches operate in real time and are hooked into the CU’s data processing system.

Target Market :

Branch Staffing :

  • Three to four student volunteers are used to staff the branches using a rotating schedule over school lunch periods. The branch schedule varies by location, but in general, they operate 6 to 7 hours per week.
  • Upper level students in the Business and Management class are trained to operate the credit union by MaPS Staff, teachers, and their peers.<.li>
  • Students who participate in MaPS Internship Program at one of the regular branches during the school year or summer serve as Supervisors for the student branches.
  • Supervisors are responsible for ensuring adequate staffing during branch hours.

Program Results/Statistics :

MaPS opened its first student branch in 1995, a second in 1999, and its third in 2003. As an extension of the real world experience for students in Business and Management classes, community service is a major part of the curriculum. “One of the most outstanding projects took place in 2009,” says Cori Frauendiener, director of education partnerships for MaPS, “when a new elementary school was being built near the MaPS Viking education branch. A start-up business partnership was arranged between the branch and new school. Students from the high school helped design and choose the school mascot and colors. They worked with the students who would be the school student body officers to get the school ready for opening day. The partnership has continued with the Viking class spending one class period per week partnering and mentoring students. The partnership was recognized as the Business Partner of the Year by the school district.”

Member Benefits :

  • Students earn credit toward graduation as credit union volunteers
  • They learn business and leadership skills

Additional Information :

In the early 1990s, the Oregon legislature mandated school districts to develop Certificate of Mastery programs to provide high school students with a strong foundation for a career or advanced education. MaPS student branch program was originally designed to prepare students for a Certificate of Advanced Mastery to pursue postsecondary education or professional technical careers. The Oregon legislature has since changed high school graduation requirements, but the program continues to attract the best and brightest students. “These are the stars in the school,” says Frauendiener. “These students are in the honor society and participate in a number of school and community activities. Through the business partnerships with elementary schools, they mentor and hold financial literacy and reading classes for the younger students. They assist with annual district wide physical fitness events for students K-12.”

When MaPS was first approached about developing some sort of business practices curriculum to help with the mandated certificate programs, it knew that if it participated, it wanted to make sure students received practical hands-on experience. So it built a mini-version of its branches at the school and asked Frauendiener, already a long-time MaPS employee, to oversee the program. She trains the teachers so they can provide students with the right skills to run and manage a credit union. Students learn not only financial skills but also leadership skills and all the real-world job skills that can make them successful in many different fields of employment, says Frauendiener. Those students who stay in the class for two or three years add a lot of depth to the program, she noted. Many of them participate in Internship opportunities at the credit union after school or during the summer. They in turn, serve as supervisors for the education branches and help train other branch staff.

Frauendiener has learned many lessons from her work with the in-school branches. Her main advice to other credit unions who wish to open a school branch is to be willing to adapt. “Our branches are nothing like we imagined they would be in 1994 when we were planning the Viking Branch,” she says. “And the program continues to grow and adapt all the time.”

She also suggests credit unions learn the realities of working in a school. “You’ll have a new employee base every four and a half months,” she point out. “Then create a list of specific outcomes for the in-school branch program. Once you are clear on the needs of the school system and of the credit union, you can begin designing the program. But, know it will take a tremendous amount of time and energy, both to start and to support the program in the long term. It won’t happen overnight,” she adds, “and it will require long-term commitment from the credit union, the school, and the teachers and students involved.”

One of the changes over time was the addition of lending services to the branch operations. The education branches began making loans to students for school related items when approached by a woodworking teacher whose students needed money to buy their project supplies. Students complete an application. They are advised about the importance of prompt payments, and positive behavior is shared with credit reporting agencies. “Not a dime has been lost from any of the students,” reports Frauendiener.

Occasionally students report or make presentations to the board of directors. “We’d like to have them do this more often,” says Frauendiener, “but these are very active students and finding opportunities to bring them together for a board meeting is very challenging.”

Both Frauendiener and Jill Nowacki, VP of development, point out the student branches are not necessarily profitable, but a way to be seen as a real community partner. The credit union and staff have won numerous awards and commendation, including multiple awards from the district and local branch of Rotary. In addition, in 2005, MaPS received the Salem Chamber Business of the Year Award and Frauendiener was selected as Oregon’s Business Person of the Year by the Future Business Leaders of America. Frauendiener was also honored by the Salem Chamber in 2009 with a Distinguished Service Award for her commitment to youth.

Frauendiener and Nowacki again emphasize the strong commitment and amount of work required from the school and credit union to make the student branches successful. Frauendiener is at the student branches every day ensuring smooth operations. The education branches are about the students’ success, she points out, not the credit union’s success. Examples of success include one of the original students who started in the program in 1995 and is now one of MaPS trainers and another student who returned to one of the high schools to run the Business and Management class. “These are the greatest kids,” beams Frauendiener.