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Seeds for Financial Success

Credit Union :Arapahoe
Assets :$76,000,000
Address :P. O. Box 2210 | Centennial, CO 80161

Details :

User Qualifications :

  • Any student K-12 enrolled in one of Centennial’s 7 school districts

Details :

Julie McLean, Director of Financial Education at Arapahoe CU, has made 254 presentations to 6,000 students in Centennial’s seven school districts. McLean tries to enhance the teaching objectives of the teacher, thus her presentations can vary. Topics include budgeting, checking account basics, identity theft and internet safety, e-banking, savings and investing, purchasing a car, and the uniqueness of credit unions. McLean has developed her own style of presentations, but she uses information from the CU Succeed website, a program that Arapahoe CU offers to teen members. She also steers students to the website for more information.

Students are often encouraged to write articles about their own financial experiences and some of these are printed in the credit union’s newsletter or submitted to CU Succeed to be used in its newsletters. If accepted, the student receives a $50 gift card. McLean describes one article submitted by a teen who had purchased a car with cash that was subsequently damaged in an accident. He didn’t have the $3,000 to fix the car and his parents told him to put the amount on his credit card, which charged him 20% interest. He had difficulty managing the debt and as a result, his grades and state of mind were affected. The student learned through a school financial education seminar that he would be better off selling the car, paying off the debt, and using the difference to buy a cheaper car.

Students are encouraged to join the credit union, says McLean. “The teachers are our cheerleaders,” she states. “If we are presenting information on how to use a checking account or debit card, it makes sense that students have real life experiences with which to put their new skills to work.” Often times the credit union will hold a membership drive within the school. Students complete an enrollment application in the classroom, McLean makes copies of their drivers’ licenses, and the credit union funds the $5 membership share. Students are then issued a debit card. “We have only had one student who overdrew his account,” says McLean, “and that was because a parent was involved in the transaction.”

Program Results/Statistics :

  • 254 financial education presentations to over 6,000 students
  • Arapahoe has 894 teen accounts between the ages of 14 and 20

Additional Information :

In 2012, all high school students in Colorado will be required to meet certain financial literacy standards. Because of her well-known work in the area high schools, McLean was invited to be part of the committee to develop the standards. “That was quite an honor,” says McLean. “Only 16 people were chosen from an applicant list of 700.” The standards were approved by the Colorado Board of Education in December 2009. The standards have been distributed to all school districts. To prepare schools for the new standards, two workshops have been structured. In April, school superintendents and administrators will convene to gain greater awareness of the standards and compliance. In May, educators will receive ½ graduate credit to attend a workshop to help them obtain the needed skills to teach financial education. McLean is participating in these workshops and expects she will be even busier during the next school year.

McLean’s background is not education. “I have a marketing degree,” she says, “and I was a meeting planner prior to getting into the credit union environment seven years ago. But I have a passion for teaching financial education.”