Saving For Students Is Elementary

By Michelle Caceres

It’s not unusual that FishHawk resident, Jack McNally, is on a mission to save, making weekly deposits into his rapidly-growing savings account. What is unique is where he performs these transactions.

McNally, a fourth-grade student at FishHawk Creek Elementary, completes the transactions in his school’s multi-purpose room.

The My Investment, New Treasure (MINT) program, sponsored by Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union, allows students in any grade, with parental permission, to open a savings account. Every Wednesday morning, the multi-purpose room transforms into a temporary branch where students can fill out deposit slips, count their change (with coin counters if needed) and wait in a short line for available tellers. Monthly statements are sent home but students can check their account balance online. The credit union provides incentives and rewards to make saving more exciting for students.

McNally was one of the first students to sign up for the program. Now every penny he earns from his weekly allowance, to money from grandparents, gets deposited into his account.

“I’m depositing a lot every week,” said McNally. To date, he has saved $285 but says he’ll make more deposits before the end of the school year.

McNally isn’t the only one making deposits. Almost 200 students currently participate in the program, with deposits totaling more than $12,000.

Juli Lewis, youth marketing manager for the credit union, says youth feel a sense of accomplishment when learning about money management, skills they need to become financially savvy adults.

The program was initiated by fourth grade teacher Stacey Hirn, who had a desire to equip children with the basic skills and habits needed for a lifetime of financial success. Hirn had successfully implemented the program at Alafia and Mintz Elementary and knew it would benefit the children at FishHawk Creek Elementary as well.

“FishHawk’s MINT could not have been executed without the support of my colleagues, administrators, credit union representatives and parent and community volunteers,” said Hirn.

For more information, please contact Hirn at 651-2150.