Community Banker Perspective: The Importance of Financial Literacy for Teens

By Emily Mays

April may be Financial Literacy Month, but at Community Spirit Bank our focus on providing young people with a strong foundational knowledge of money management concepts and skills remains a priority throughout the year.

We feel strongly that these skills should be part of every young person’s education and development. As fellow community bankers, I know you feel the same way.

That’s why we’ve partnered with our local schools—as many of you have as well. My hope is that by sharing what we are doing at Community Spirit Bank, you’ll gain ideas and be inspired to continue your efforts in this area.

Financial Literacy Spirit Community Bank Tellers

Here’s what’s working for us and the young people we serve by:

  • Sponsoring an in-classroom digital learning platform,
  • Operating in-school bank branches led by students,
  • Coordinating in-person finance instruction (when permitted),
  • Contributing a bi-monthly financial literacy article to a local magazine,
  • Working with local extension services to reach after-school programs,
  • Offering special checking and savings accounts for students,
  • Using social media to promote the value we provide to the schools, and
  • Providing ear buds and t-shirts to students participating in our financial literacy programs.

This has helped us become a recognizable brand to our younger demographics and build up our followers on social media channels. So, when they think of banking, that think of us and are comfortable with coming to the bank when they need us.

Unexpected Benefits

Financial Literacy Spirit Community Bank

Our efforts in support of financial literacy have produced some unexpected benefits as well. As teachers have gotten familiar with the bank they have reached out to us to further that relationship with the students by going beyond just financial literacy to teach:

  • Life lessons graduates should know,
  • Digital citizenship best practices, and
  • Career development discussions.

Many of these concepts are explored through our in-school bank branches. As part of our career preparedness practice, student tellers must create a resume to apply for an in-school teller position. They also must go through an interview with Community Spirit Bank human resources. They come out of this process more confident and more prepared to begin the college resume application process.

Some of those student-tellers have even transitioned to become bank employees. They are also some of our biggest cheerleaders and brand influencers. It’s just amazing to see these student's flourish.

Ultimately, we want to encourage a future generation of financially responsible adults, secure in their financial choices and on the path to financial independence. And if our efforts give us the opportunity to earn their business, then we’ve done more than teach good money management, we’ve shown the value of relationship banking and all that a community bank has to offer.

Emily Mays is vice president, chief administrative officer, and marketing director at Community Spirit Bank.