Bank programs teach students how to save
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Schools across America will be focusing today's lesson plan on the ABCs of money as part of a nationwide program sponsored by the American Bankers Association.
National Teach Children to Save Day is an opportunity for bankers to go into classrooms each year and talk to students in kindergarten through 12th grade about saving, budgeting and other basics when it comes to finance.
"We feel the earlier children are exposed to saving the more likely they are to form the habit and become savers as adults," said Marquita Powell, communications manager for the American Bankers Association in Washington, D.C.
With many parents and teachers unable to deal with money in an intelligent way, let alone show children how it's done, the bankers group created a classroom presentation that its members have been using for the past 14 years to help bridge the gap.
Now in its 15th year, the Teach Children to Save program has reached about 5 million students and gained the support of around 100,000 bankers since it was founded in 1997.
"We feel it's important to teach kids good financial skills, particularly in light of the issues that have faced the nation in the past few years," said Todd Brice, president of Indiana-based S&T Bank, which participates in the program.
The Great Recession was a turning point for many Americans who spent too much, borrowed too much and saved very little, if anything. Meanwhile, hundreds of banks failed while the largest were bailed out with public funds.
These days saving is becoming a priority for more consumers, even if they may be discouraged by the fact that interest rates that banks pay on savings continue to be lower than the nominal rate of inflation.
While the financial education event is officially staged on April 12, banks send representatives to classrooms throughout the month of April, which is National Financial Literacy Month.
This year, Mr. Brice said S&T Bank had presented the Teach Children to Save program in 75 schools to an estimated 4,900 students throughout the 10 Pennsylvania counties where its 51 bank branches are located.
One of those schools is Jeffery Primary School in the Shaler Area School District, where Cari Kelm teaches kindergarten.
"It's tremendously helpful," Ms. Kelm said. "We just finished our unit on money, and with that we talked about wants versus needs.
"The bankers came in and did a presentation that brought it to [the students'] level. They talked about earning money through an allowance and making choices about how to spend and save it."
She said S&T Bank representatives gave each child in her classroom a Lincoln shield penny from the U.S. Mint and a $1 certificate to open a child's savings account at the bank.
First Published April 12, 2011 12:00 am