Careers In CUs, Financial Literacy Discussed In Cal.

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California credit union leaders met with Southern California Regional Occupational Program instructors for the second consecutive year to discuss careers in credit unions, the importance of educating students in financial literacy, and to present the High School Financial Planning Program of the National Endowment for Financial Education as a model curriculum.

During the Los Angeles County Office of Education's 18th Annual Banking, Accounting and Finance Advisory & Conference here, the Richard Myles Johnson Foundation and Financial Partners Credit Union presented ROP with a $5,000 foundation grant that will fund completion of a "crosswalk document" demonstrating how the NEFE HSFPP curriculum meets California educational standards for grades 9-12.

Rita Fillingane, California Credit Union League credit union development project manager, presented the NEFE materials to about 40 ROP instructors in banking, accounting, and finance. She noted to teachers that the curriculum is free, is linked to national education standards in mathematics, economics, and family and consumer science, and is broken down into chapters that cover the same subjects educators teach during the year.

"The most recent survey by the National Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy, which was done in 2002, found that 12th-graders' knowledge of personal finance basics has declined in the last five years," Fillingane said.

A panel discussion covered what banks and credit unions offer ROP students in training, positions available, salaries, and benefits. The Financial Partners CU team demonstrated that the credit union was as good as or better than the banks on the panel in all aspects.

"We showed we are more flexible in training in terms of hours," said Melia De Witt, public relations specialist for Financial Partners CU. "The banks had a set program, and a set structure with certain hours. We've arranged our training program so students can work with the manager of the department he or she will be training in, and work out what time they could come in. We are better suited the students' needs."

Attendance at the conference was up this year, and included teachers who took part in the 2002 meeting. Each instructor who attended received a NEFE information kit, which includes the student workbook used in the curriculum, and the curriculum instructor's manual.

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