Another CU May Convert To Bank- It's For School Kids!

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Yet another bank conversion looms, this time at a one-year-old credit union run by 5th and 6th grade students from Southeastern Michigan.

But, unlike the others that require membership approval, this one can be prevented with financial support from other credit unions, said Mary Davis, Public Affairs Manager at the Michigan Credit Union League. Davis said the league is asking for donations to secure a three-year sponsorship with Experiencia, the Kansas City-based corporation that created the credit union as part of its Exchange City program, which teaches young people about personal finance, business fundamentals and entrepreneurship.

Under that program kids are exposed to a variety of different professions. Because of the costs involved, Experiencia said it will have to seek out a bank sponsor for the financial institution if it can't get credit union support in underwriting the operation.

"We need about $20,000," she said, noting that CUs in Southeastern Michigan are being encouraged to donate in increments of $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50 or $25 to keep the CU from reverting to a bank.

Since opening its doors as part of a miniature city that features a post office, radio station, newspaper, police station and businesses, Experiencia CU has served 15,000 students.

"Considering that many of these kids potentially come from families who are unbanked, it's vital that Exchange City Credit Union remain just that-a credit union," Davis said. "These kids can learn first hand that credit unions provide affordable financial services and that they don't have to pay outrageous fees to check cashers and other below-the-board service providers."

Students must earn the privilege of working at Exchange City by participating in 40 hours of classroom instruction on such things as how to write checks, manage loan responsibilities and conduct business transactions.

They then travel to the "city," located in a 20,800-square-foot building in metropolitan Detroit, where they take on the roles of city leaders, shop owners and employees.

Since the program's inception across the country in 1980, Exchange City has served more than a million students. It is expected that some 45,000 Michigan students will experience its unique method of learning over the next three years, Davis said.

CUJ Resources

Donations to the Exchange City program are requested by June 1, and volunteers are also needed to run the CU. For training info, contact Joanne Krohner, Exchange City Floor Director, at (734) 287-8696, ext. 24 or joanne.krohner experiencia.org.

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