News & Press: Credit Union News

Minnesota credit union school branches enroll next generation of members

Friday, May 20, 2016  
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Students Sunshine Noel, left, and Taavo Robison
work at Hiway Federal Credit Union’s Johnson
High School branch under the supervision of
Branch Manager Jewel DellaValle. Photo via MSPBJ.

Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal (May 20, 2016) - Some Minnesota credit unions are trying to push away from the stereotype that they’re the place you take grandma to get money for birthday cards.


Instead, credit unions are opening locations in high schools that are run in part by high school students, for high school students. Six credit unions have opened high school branches since 2011.


Students can open accounts for as little as a $5 deposit, make some money if they work there, polish their interviewing skills, understand firsthand the importance of saving and balancing an account, and learn about different financial transactions.


Getting people to learn fiscal discipline when they’re young will help them down the road, so opening locations in high schools where students can learn and practice this concept made sense, said Mark Cummins, president and CEO of the Minnesota Credit Union Network.


St. Paul-based Hiway Federal Credit Union (No. 5 on this year’s List) opened a location at Johnson Senior High last year and recently opened another at Highland Park Senior High.


Roughly 100 students have accounts at Hiway’s two locations, but it’s not viewed as a business plan for the credit union to get rich.


“Nobody goes into this thinking it’s going to be the next big thing to make money,” said Dave Boden, president and CEO of Hiway.


Johnson senior Sunshine Noel, who works at the Hiway branch in her school, sees value in the job training and money management she’s learned. “High school is a step away from college, and college is not cheap. Why not put a branch in a high school so we can learn about money?”


Her principal, Micheal Thompson, went a step further. He said he recently talked with a student who was worried that what they learned in high school wouldn’t transfer to the “real world” after graduation.


“He’s about 70 percent right,” Johnson said, quickly noting that the worried student was also 30 percent “way off.”


Closer Look

Since 2011, a number of credit unions have started working with Minnesota high schools, opening branches in the schools and hiring students to staff them.


HomeTown Federal Credit Union: Opened branch in Owatonna High School in 2011


St. Paul Federal Credit Union: Opened St. Paul branches at Como Park High School in 2012 and Harding High School in 2013


Ideal Credit Union: Opened branch at Tartan High School in Oakdale in 2013


North Star Credit Union: Opened branch at North Woods School in Cook in 2014 and South Ridge School in Culver in 2015


Royal Credit Union: Opened branch at Eden Prairie High School in 2015


Hiway Federal Credit Union: Opened St. Paul branches at Johnson High School in 2015 and Highland Park High School this month


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