For most kindergartners, math lessons rarely go beyond counting or learning to tell time.

But at Nap Ford Community School, a charter school scheduled to open in Orlando next month, 5-year-olds may soon be taught the basics of banking, interest rates, and taxes.

That is because the curriculum was developed in part by Marketplace Bank, a Florida subsidiary of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Toronto. Looking for unique ways to meet its Community Reinvestment Act obligations, Marketplace Bank began working with the Nap Ford organizers more than a year ago to help set the school’s direction.

“We were looking to apply some creative skills and ingenuity and found we could do so through their agenda,” said Herb Knoll, president of Marketplace Bank.

Though traditional public schools have curriculums specified by district and state school administrators, Nap Ford is allowed to create its own because it is a charter school — an alternative public learning institution. And since most charter schools get less funding than regular public schools do, corporate partnerships are encouraged, according to Charter Friends Network, a nonprofit charter school information resource.

Nap Ford, though, is believed to be the first elementary school in the country with a special focus on finance, according to John Schroeder, the director of Charter Friends, who added that this is a particularly surprising focus for an elementary school.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals supports this unique charter school venture and the large extent of corporate involvement, so long as the bank does not try to market directly to the children.

“I think it is wonderful that a business is involved with a school in such a capacity and will work with them in developing curriculum; the only caveat is that the curriculum needs to be noncommercial,” said Vincent Ferrandio, the association’s executive director.

The financial curriculum, primarily used in math classes, makes little mention of Marketplace’s products. It is intended to teach children how to calculate interest, taxes, and other percentages, as well as how to save money and budget, all at a level of complexity geared to the grade level. The school will open with kindergarten, first and second grades, and will add grades in subsequent years, up to grade five.

Besides personal finance, the school will emphasize health and nutrition. Principal Jeraldine Perkins said Nap Ford chose these areas of emphasis because she and the other founders thought that combining traditional education with real-life skills would be the best way to improve an economically depressed Orlando neighborhood that had lacked an elementary school for 30 years.

“We wanted to revitalize the community, and we came up with a program that not only focuses on academics but can also be a catalyst for redevelopment for a community,” Ms. Perkins said. The school is named for the late school board member who fought to bring a school to that neighborhood.

After considering several financial partners, the school’s organizers came across Marketplace, and together they began planning the charter school a year ago. Marketplace Bank was formed nearly two years ago out of a partnership between Winn-Dixie supermarkets and $428 million-asset CIBC National Bank, a Maitland, Fla., subsidiary of the $173 billion-asset Canadian parent. Marketplace Bank has branches in 113 Winn-Dixie stores in Florida.

Marketplace, which also contributed $45,000 to help buy materials ranging from computers to books and business cards, is to remain actively involved in the school once it opens its doors.

It plans to set up savings accounts for all Nap Ford students and to accommodate student visits to bank branches a few times a year. The managers who helped develop the curriculum will also be part-time instructors. And the bank will hold financial education classes at night for the parents of the Nap Ford children.

“We want to make sure that the whole family is financially well,” said Marketplace’s Mr. Knoll, who is on the school’s board of directors.

The bank’s involvement has caught the attention of other charter schools in the state, and at least one school is already looking into establishing a similar partnership with the bank, Mr. Knoll said.

Nap Ford has other corporate partners for its health, music, and athletic components, but Ms. Perkins said Marketplace was the school’s first corporate partner and paved the way for the others.

“They have the same focus as us to help make the community financially stable again,” Ms. Perkins said. “And they have been a very active and engaged partner to work with.”


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