Elementary students will have the opportunity to create a savings account and learn banking skills as the Community Christian School partners with Riverstone Bank to open a student-run Eagle River Bank.
The two entities have built a relationship, with the bank supporting school activities for several years. The bank is now looking to develop a new opportunity before the Scottsbluff/Gering Area Chamber of Commerce ends the Adopt-a-School program.
“We’ve always been very involved with the Adopt-A-School program and it’s a program that’s coming to an end next year, so we felt like we wanted to have something that overrides that connection to education for us. “, Rebecca Pierce, director of marketing for Riverstone Bank, said. “It was a natural connection for us.”
According to the University of Nebraska – Lincoln College of Business School Savings Program web page, the idea was fostered in 2001 when the University of Nebraska – Omaha Center for Economic Education, Omaha Public Schools Conestoga Magnet School and Wells Fargo Bank began meeting “to create a real-world experience for students who supported the school’s theme of economics and financial literacy and its savings program.
People also read…
The result was the state’s first elementary school savings bank. Over the years, the programs have fostered relationships between banks or credit unions and schools, with the majority concentrated in the eastern part of the state. The closest program to the Panhandle is at Chappell. Chappell’s Creek Valley Elementary partnered with Adams Bank & Trust in 2019.
CCS head teacher Stephanie Reynaga said staff are excited to pilot the program this fall.
“We were super excited about it because it fits with what we want our kids to learn with this real-world app and financial literacy,” she said.
Pierce said the time was right to pilot the program, having already heard about the opportunity from a former employee.
“We’re really excited to be the pilot program for this in western Nebraska as well as us (Riverstone Bank),” Pierce said. “It goes to say that we are so excited to be able to provide a solid foundation for students who are progressing in the field of savings and we are really excited to have Community Christian on board and excited too. We look forward to what next year will bring.
After agreeing to the partnership, the school worked to receive approval and the program from UNL. As part of the program, the school bank will be branded with Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) graphics as is customary to see displayed in banks.
“It’s almost like a mini-branch of the bank,” Reynaga said. “One of their employees will be here every Thursday when we have a bank day. We will have time in the morning where students can make their deposits just before doing our chapel. »
Fifth graders will spin behind the queue where they will learn to count money and check deposit slips. Other students will complete their deposit slips and learn the process for giving a teller their money for deposit, though Reynaga said there is no requirement to deposit money weekly.
However, Pierce said there will be incentives for students to save, including up to $5 matching on their first deposits.
“The biggest goal is to help them become good stewards of their money and think I have a $1,” Pierce said. “I can spend it now or I can save it.”
For many students, the Monopoly game is their only connection to banking, Pierce said, so it’s important to get into the habit of saving money. The program will also teach students how to set goals and the importance of saving money to afford a trip or buy a bike or car.
“It’s just a fun way to bring financial literacy and financial stability to these kids,” Pierce said.
Reynaga said the introduction of this program in the school will provide students with real application of the curriculum.
“We want them to be excited about it and still see the opportunities for real-life application,” she said. “The way I see it is that I want their math and economics classes to come to life through this process.”
Reynaga added that as a Christian school, she hopes students realize that saving money is rooted in the biblical principle of wise stewardship.
“Every time I tell someone about it, I get dizzy again,” Reynaga said. “These are the kind of meaningful experiences we want children to have. Textbooks are wonderful and teaching is wonderful, but applying what they learn in a meaningful and real way is exactly what children need opportunities to do.
When students graduate from fifth grade at Community Christian, in addition to receiving their diplomas, students will receive a check for the money they have saved throughout elementary school.
The school savings bank will have a soft opening on Thursday, October 13 at 8 a.m., followed by a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, October 14 at noon.
“The goal, as a banking institution, we would really like to see every citizen have financial stability,” Pierce said. “It really starts at a young age. We hope that by entering the schools and helping to develop this habit of saving, by the time they graduate from fifth grade, they can take that check from what they have saved throughout their elementary careers. and deposit it in any banking institution.
As the school savings bank program is piloted in the Panhandle, Reynaga hopes families will take advantage of this opportunity.
“It’s something unique that doesn’t happen at other schools in the Panhandle, so I just want families to know that this is a really special opportunity for the kids.”