Special Report: National CU Youth Week

Nine Tips for Totally Rad Youth Programs

Don’t wait to reach out to tomorrow’s members.

April 23, 2013

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Today’s youth are tomorrow’s borrowers. Credit unions shouldn’t wait to build relationships with them.

Financial education can be the cornerstone of your youth-outreach program. Consider these nine tips for running a successful youth program:

1. Keep things fresh. That means regular updates to websites and timely, trendy prizes to get kids into branches on a regular basis.

2. Make it personal. Directions Credit Union, a $560 million asset credit union serving Toledo and northwest Ohio, for example, allows children to personalize their savings accounts, tying them to that special item they want, like an Xbox or an iPad.

3. Get in schools and stay in schools. State Employees' Credit Union's Leigh Brady says credit unions need to go back year after year and keep offering fresh curricula. Skip a year and a different financial institution might take your spot. Many districts lack financial education expertise, so they will welcome the partnerships.

4. Market to existing members. Parents hugely influence the early financial behaviors of their children, and their children form a captive audience—at the moment.

5. Don’t recreate the wheel. You can modify and rebrand many existing products and services to suit young adults.

6. Be age appropriate. NuVision Federal Credit Union in Huntington Beach, Calif., for example, expands the financial services it offers to children. The lessons the $1.2 billion asset credit union imparts become more sophisticated as the children get older.

7. Allow for mistakes. Give children the chance to make some real decisions—and maybe even some mistakes while the stakes are low, the supervision is high, and the learning opportunities and consequences are immediate.

8. Be ready to transition youth members into regular members. Have products and services that appeal to young adults. More and more this means mobile banking and a social media presence.

9. Participate in National Credit Union Youth Week. That's when hundreds of credit unions and their members will take part in CUNA's National Youth Saving Challenge. Last year, young credit union members deposited more than $21 million into their savings accounts.

Visit our National Credit Union Youth Week page for more ideas.