Seeds for success
Reaching Gen Y starts well before high school graduation for $82 million asset Arapahoe Credit Union, Centennial, Colo. Arapahoe sows its “Seeds for Success” financial
education program in public schools and then reaps the results with myBank2Go.com—products for Gen Y members ages 18 to 34.
More than 7,000 students participated in classroom workshops and presentations on personal finance topics during the 2010-2011 school year in seven school districts, says Julie McLean, director of financial education.
Arapahoe offers youth accounts for children up to age 12. Teen checking accounts with debit cards are available with a parent’s signature at age 14 and with only the teen’s
signature at age 16.
At age 18, even young adults who lack a credit history can get a car loan through MyBank2Go.com using a program that requires borrowers with no credit or poor credit to have a GPS tracking device attached to the car. The device can be triggered remotely to prevent ignition if the member fails to make timely payments.
“Instead of dinging their credit, we teach them to make their payments on time,” McLean says.
Presentations to young adults and their parents often focus on technology to teach them to use products such as online banking, bill payment, and mobile banking. Wallet cards distributed at these events offer shortcuts for text banking.
McLean ends all educational events by emphasizing that she is a personal resource for young members. Business cards and other materials offer McLean’s contact information so young members can reach her at any time.
Those calls sometimes come two to three years after McLean makes a presentation. A young man who left college when he became a father called to thank the credit union for providing financial information that made a difference in his life years later. A teen who planned to drop out of high school called to say she changed her mind after participating in a workshop on the cost of rent and living expenses.
Building trust with Gen Y and then backing it with personal experiences is crucial, McLean says.
“They have to feel you’re a trusted resource,” McLean says. “Once you gain that, they’re your members forever.”
CUNA’s 2011-2012 reports: