Student credit union volunteers develop marketing and teamwork skills

LIVONIA, MI (March 10, 2014)“Getting students to save their money isn’t as easy as it seems,” said Katherine Penn, sponsor teacher of Co-op Services’ student credit union at Clarenceville Middle School in Livonia.  “It takes a lot of teamwork, planning and marketing.”

Every year, eighth graders at Clarenceville Middle School have an opportunity to attend the annual trip to Washington, D.C.  While the school hosts a variety of fundraisers to help pay for the trip, students and families are expected to contribute to travel costs, which average nearly eight hundred dollars each.

“Saving money in the student credit union benefits everyone,” added Penn.

Penn helps train students who volunteer at the school’s student-run credit union.  The volunteers learn to work together to develop marketing campaigns, encouraging fellow students in 6th through 8th grades to open a student credit union account, save their money and make regular deposits.

Eighth graders Alyssa Craigie and Erin Koss are volunteer credit union managers who oversee two teams of student volunteers to develop strategies and activities that will attract other students to open accounts and start saving.

“We have two teams with five or six kids on a team, but we don’t compete—we work together,” said Craigie.  “We give team members index cards to write down their ideas, and then review and share them with Jeremy Cybulski.”  Cybulski is Co-op Services Credit Union’s youth and community development coordinator.

Many of the school-wide campaigns and activities that have attracted students are food related, including “Donuts 4 Deposits” where depositors receive a fresh donut for putting money in their account.  One lucky student won a super-sized bowl of candy and snacks as the prize for a Super Bowl raffle.

The student credit union is open each Friday for students to make deposits. One of the most unique promotions, held on a Friday the 13th, gave students who made deposits the opportunity to smash a piece of fruit with a bat.  Craigie and Koss agreed that it was hilarious, fun and definitely messy.

For Koss, who wants to be a special education teacher, standing in the hallway, seeing the business and watching kids come up with ideas is the best part of her job.

Student credit union volunteers set a goal of receiving 201 deposits during the current school year.

“We want to exceed our goals, not just meet them,” added Craigie, whose personal goal is to study law at Harvard. “When it comes to the credit union, it’s not just about saving money, it’s about people and relationships.  It’s a team effort.”

Cybulski said, “I can’t be more proud of these students and the support we receive from Katherine Penn, Principal Wendy Kellehan and parents.”

Many of the students at Clarenceville Middle School, including volunteer workers, were first introduced to Co-op Services’ student credit unions at Botsford and Grandview elementary schools.

In addition to students saving for the school’s annual trip to Washington, D.C. Penn said, “It’s especially important for our 8th graders to learn how to save before they enter high school.”  As an example, students in Clarenceville High School’s band and chorus have a chance to go on a Disney trip every four years.

Cybulski is also confident the students will exceed their savings goals—one deposit at a time.

Headquartered in Livonia, Co-op Services Credit Union has more than 50,000 members and maintains eight full-service branch offices in the Detroit metro area.  Members also have access to more than 3,000 shared branches and 28,000 ATMs nationwide. 

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