One thing we know for sure, “it’s better to start saving and investing earlier rather than later”. Another thing we know for sure, “our youth aren’t being taught the importance of a financial education in schools”. Therefore, that leaves us within the credit union community with a great opportunity – to make sure it’s done right.
Credit unions have always served the communities that created them and by their very nature, are educational institutions. Credit unions pride themselves on educating members on what’s out there, what to look out for, and how to get the best rates and service.
This summer, the African-American Credit Union Coalition (www.aacuc.org) teamed up with BetterInvesting (www.betterinvesting.org) to support a non-profit that is on the forefront of financial and investment education for Youth of Color, CLIMB (www.climbusa.org). CLIMB hosted a Summer Stock Market Experience Program, that served over 200 youth nationwide, exposing them to investing, credit unions, careers in finance, entrepreneurship, investment clubs and portfolio management. This program was catered to African-American and Hispanic youth and resulted in 100 credit union accounts being opened and 50 Youth Roth IRAs being opened.
One of the highlights of the program was the Credit Union Panel hosted on June 22nd, where 11 participating credit unions explained the difference between credit unions and banks, the benefits of opening a credit union account early and having access to other financial education services their unique credit union provides to its members.
This panel, along with the 11 other weekly Speaker Series sessions, really helped to educate our youth, and their parents, on what we all know and take for granted by working in this industry – just how important it is to start saving and investing now and learning how to make better financial decisions.
It’s easy to say, “I wish they would teach this in schools”. But it’s more effective to realize that we, as a credit union community, are the only ones really well-equipped to teach this. And the best place to start is with our members and their families. Making sure they have access to accounts is not enough. Having access to a quality education regarding their finances, their financial goals and the resources and support to help make those goals a reality is what’s needed. And that is only available through partnerships. Partnerships with other non-profits such as AACUC and BetterInvesting who are doing the work, educating our youth and preparing them to have a fruitful future with a quality financial and investment education, starting in grade school.
The future is in our hands. For many of us, working and contributing to the credit union movement is more than just a job. It is a passion for us. For we know the benefits it can bring. We have witnessed the financial liberation it can offer. Do we not have the answers for the next generation? And if we do, are we pointing them in the right direction or waiting for someone else to do it because our job title doesn’t have “teacher” in it?
Let’s give the next generation a head start many of us didn’t have, simply by sharing our time, experience, and expertise with them. Join us next year, so that you can be part of the solution in helping to build wealth in the next generation, starting with education and exposure. We are one community, the credit union community.