A Call to Action: Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders
According to a 2010 study conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education, students from states requiring a financial education class in order to graduate were more likely to “exhibit positive financial behaviors,” than students from states that do not. These behaviors include saving money, using credit cards sparingly, and making loan payments on time. However, since 2011, the number of states requiring high schools to offer financial literacy courses has dropped to only 14, according to the Council on Economic Education. Massachusetts has yet to pass legislation to require such courses for graduation, and I saw this as my call to find a way to bring financial education to the future leaders of my community.
I discussed with my credit union’s Financial Education Officer the lessons I learned at financial conferences, and realized that while my credit union works closely with high school students in our community, we do not offer many education programs targeted at college students. In a marketplace that boasts more than 15 colleges and universities, I was convinced we had a terrific opportunity to lead the next generation of consumers to healthier financial habits. By doing so, we would increase their chances of a successful future and introduce them to LCU and its mission to act as a responsible corporate citizen and enrich the communities in which we live.
My solution was to produce a conference called Finding Easy Street, aimed at equipping up to 150 college students with a “roadmap” to a successful future. This concept has grown into a fully integrated development experience which will engage students in topics encompassing personal finance as well as personal and professional development skills not found in today’s typical classroom. I am confident LCU will make a real difference in the lives of these young adults, and in turn become their trusted primary financial institution. We will do this by demonstrating our ability to offer real-life training in networking, job searching skills, personal branding, and personal credit management, among other things.
In addition to dynamic breakout sessions by industry professionals and keynote addresses by an acclaimed financial literacy author, attendees will have the opportunity to put their new found skills to work immediately. They will network with high profile guests from the community as well as prominent non-profit agencies eager to enlist the students’ services for internships and volunteer opportunities. Providing the students with immediate opportunities to succeed will build their confidence and increase their trust in LCU to guide them through this journey. With the confidence gained from attending this event, the students will be in a much better position to manage their personal finances, make smart financial decisions, and set themselves apart from their peers in order to attain better career opportunities when they graduate.
The successful execution of Finding Easy Street will highlight the role credit unions play in the lives of their members, and will demonstrate that credit unions are dedicated to providing those members with a tailored experience unlike experiences they have had with big banks. In addition, lowering the average age of credit union membership will generate more opportunities to provide services to those members at key points in their lives. This makes the long term benefits of events like Finding Easy Street outweigh the short term costs.
With just 40 days until the event, the Financial Education Committee of LCU, the event’s sole organizer, is aggressively working to promote the event to students on multiple campuses, attract high-profile guests such as city and state politicians, and deliver a well-planned, professional event that will profoundly impact the students. As a result of planning Finding Easy Street, LCU has already been asked to deliver many educational sessions to local college campuses, furthering the exposure of our financial education program and strengthening our bond with potential members. Students will be better prepared for a brighter future, and their colleges and universities will see that LCU is a valuable partner in their quest to equip students for success.
At the completion of this event, we will relentlessly pursue opportunities to bring our leading financial curriculum to a wider audience through the Finding Easy Street brand, which will enhance LCU’s identity as an industry leader in financial education, a credit union dedicated to reinvesting in its community and empowering its membership.
Bryon Goguen, Leominster Credit Union