Special Education Students Staff Apple FCU's Branch

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Special education students at the Earl L. Pulley Career Center at West Potomac High School will learn about finances through the newest student-run branch of Apple Federal Credit Union.

"When school officials called to tell us they were interested in having a student branch on site, we were more than welcome to listen to them," said Dave Gorham, Business Development Manager at the $480-million AFCU. "They assured us that these were kids who were high enough functioning to do the tasks necessary."

Gorham said this is the second of its student-run branches being run by special education students.

By no means a moneymaker for the credit union, student branches demonstrate AFCU's commitment to financial literacy and career planning, Gorham said. In addition to learning about finances, many students who work at student branches get hired by AFCU when they graduate.

The Pulley center is one of two centers in Fairfax County schools that focus on community-based career education for special education students 16 to 21 years of age.

With Apple's support, students who wish to pursue financial education will learn both financial and customer service perspectives of running a CU as they handle transactions from schoolmates, faculty and staff from Pulley and West Potomac High School.

Student employees operate in the school cafeteria Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during all lunch periods. Their responsibilities include processing new member applications, taking deposits and giving withdrawals of not more than $20 for students and $50 for faculty and staff, Gorham said.

"West Potomac is honored and grateful for the trust Apple FCU has place with the Pulley students, their acceptance of the idea to have a student-run branch consisting of special needs students, and their firm commitment to special education," said Clem Castellano, Employment and Transition Representative at the Pulley center.

Gorham said AFCU's student-run branch program provides real world financial literacy, fiscal education and the opportunity to explore future employment options to students within the Fairfax County Public School System.

The CU's model was launched in 1995 now boasts 25 branches with two more in the works. It has been so successful that a version was recently adopted by the Future Business Leaders of America.

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