May 20, 2013
Since Community First Credit Union opened its first in-school, student-run credit union branch at Appleton West High School in March 2001, we have taken time near the end of each school year to celebrate our financial literacy partnership with the Appleton Area School District.
On May 16, CFCU representatives, school district administrators and teachers, most of the 59 students involved in running the five in-school CFCU branches and their parents attended the 12th annual appreciation dinner at the Grand Meridian.
“The banquet was a huge success, over 100 people attended,” said Jessica Streich, CFCU member education coordinator. “It is Community First’s way to say thank you to the students and their families for all of their hard work during the school year.”
Community First operates in-school branches at Appleton West, East and North high schools, Roosevelt Middle School and Jefferson Elementary School.
“This year for the first time we did a mentorship with the high school students helping out at the grade school and middle school so it was really great to bring them all together to celebrate,” Streich said.
“Community First Credit Union is not just a work place, it is like a family,” said Cindy Moua, a senior at Appleton East, who offered some insights from two years working in the in-school branch. “We learn together, we work together, and we are all one big part of a community. When you take your job seriously you will learn new things and be able to look at things differently, you will have a lifetime of friends and you will always have the work experience.”
AASD Supt. Lee Allinger and Rita O’Brien, AASD career/technical education program leader, praised Community First’s collaboration with the district and how the in-school branches provide important hands-on job skills training for students.
Community First’s involvement in Appleton schools extends beyond the in-school branches as CFCU educators assist teachers in the classrooms with financial literacy topics. They also work with teachers to annually coordinate and produce Reality Check simulations to help high school students closing in on graduation to make sound financial decisions regarding career choices, sensible spending, savings, credit/debit card use, loans and investments. All juniors and seniors participate in Reality Check as part of the personal financial management class that is required to graduate.
Rita Diener, CFCU teller operations manager, said the partnership between Community First and Appleton schools has helped many students grow and develop skills they will use for years. “The students have not only learned the basics of counting money, the importance of saving and finances, they have also learned life skills that they will be able to take with them wherever the road leads them in the future,” she said.