For Purdue Federal Credit Union, working to keep their members financially secure is a big part of their mission. Purdue Federal is built upon the credit union motto of ‘People Helping People’ and one impactful way that the Lafayette-based, member-owned cooperative carries out these values is through the promotion of financial literacy not only at their many branches, but in classrooms around the region.
“Financial education is a pillar of any credit union,” said Lindsey Kilty, Community Relations Specialist with Purdue Federal. “It’s important for us to get out into the community and engage with our members, of course, but also with teachers and students in the classroom.”
There are several ways that Purdue Federal promotes financial literacy, but their major initiative with educators and students is through a program called Banzai. The hands-on, real world lessons that Banzai provides gives students a fun, unique look into the basics of banking.
“Banzai gives teachers the resources to build financial and banking education into the classroom,” Kilty said. “For some teachers, Banzai is a great addition to their curriculum while others get far more in-depth with the tools and resources available through the program. It’s great for teachers to build into their eLearning curriculum and others have found the value of building the content into other subjects like economics, finance, and life sciences.”
“It’s a really great partnership and we’ve seen that educators who have taken advantage of the resources that Banzai provides really appreciate the program,” said Kilty.
Through a sponsorship, Purdue Federal has been able to present Banzai free to educators across the region. The interactive workbooks and online materials are geared toward two groups: Elementary and Middle & High School students.
“I use the Banzai program to reinforce concepts taught within the financial literacy unit I teach with the 8th grade students,” said Donna Nowak, a Family and Consumer Science Teacher at Boston Middle School in La Porte. “Purdue Federal has made it possible to use the Banzai program because many educational programs and the materials that go with them can be very costly. Otherwise, we would not be able to take advantage of this fun, interactive and informative program.”
“Purdue Federal Credit Union has provided the booklets to us at no cost and they also provide a guest speaker who comes in every quarter to speak to the students about banking, fraud, various types of accounts and other topics,” Nowak added.
As Nowak noted, Purdue Federal Credit Counselors also spend time in the classroom working directly with teachers and students to follow up on the lessons that Banzai provides or expand on other banking-related topics.
“We go into the classroom or provide them with other materials if the teachers want to get more in-depth with certain topics,” Kilty said. “Something like ‘Understanding Credit’ or ‘Budgeting Basics’ can be topics all on their own. We have over 20 other topics that we could follow up with or expand on with students in the classroom as well.”
“We have a game that takes after Jenga which we call Credit Blocks so we have scenarios attached to each block. They might say, ‘You missed your credit card payment so your credit score is going to drop X amount of points,’ or ‘You’ve made a year’s worth of payments on time so your credit score increases.’ They have to follow along and keep track so they’ll begin to see how little things can affect your credit score, how you can raise it, how you can lower it, and things like that.”
These real-life scenarios provide great lessons for students. At a time when they’re beginning to think about or start their first job, these lessons show students the importance of saving money and being financially responsible.
For Kilty and Purdue Federal Credit Union, their goal to provide these banking and financial education resources to educators has a direct impact on the future prosperity of the students in those classrooms.
“Through working with Purdue University and Purdue Northwest, it’s been shown that incoming freshmen don’t have a good grasp of banking basics like balancing a checkbook because they’ve never been taught,” described Kilty. “We feel like one of our responsibilities is to try and educate these students before they’re out in the real world.”
Purdue Federal works to promote education of banking-related topics to students and members, but you don’t have to be a member of the credit union to stop in and speak with one of their credit counselors.
Along with presentations in local La Porte area schools, Purdue Federal has also worked on campus at PNW to bring presentations related to credit to college-aged audiences as well. In 2016, Purdue Federal was able to reach 8774 members who attended a free financial literacy session and, of those nearly 9K people, 6300 were attending a session for the first time.
To find out more about the great things that Purdue Federal Credit Union has to offer members and the community, visit their website at: www.purduefed.com/