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Student-operated bank teaches youth money skills


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Photo by Tauren Dyson.

Photo by Tauren Dyson.

Published on: Wednesday, October 09, 2013

By Tauren Dyson

Teaching youth to adopt wise spending habits can be a challenge.

That’s why Parkdale High School welcomed the Capital One Student-Run Branch, the fourth such program in the U.S., to its hallways more than two years ago. Since that time, the program has instilled a potent level of financial literacy to dozens of seniors have who have grown to become more responsible with money.

“We are looking for the student who would be a benefit and can benefit from the program,” said Lakia Williams, Capital One community development manager. “We are looking for the student that’s going to work hard and be determined.”

The Capital One program chooses 10 Parkdale students — who are given a six-week crash course at local branches in Prince George’s County. After the workshop, the students become bankers at the Parkdale Capital One branch.

“Having this experience working for Capital One bank has really broadened my horizons of things I’m going to be able to do in the future,” Parkdale senior Sitra Adem said. “Who thinks of a bank being in a high school, that’s not something I’d even fathom being available to us.”

At one point she was dead set on working in the communications field, but the 17-year-old is strongly considering a shift in career plans to banking.

As a result of receiving intense training in banking, the student-bankers will teach the rest of their Parkdale schoolmates lessons in detecting identity theft and budgeting their money.

“Overall, the program has been going excellent,” Parkdale Assistant Principal Sylvanus Jarrett said. “The students in the banking program show a lot of dedication.”

The Capital One Student-Run Branch Program has also garnered international attention, catching the eye of organizers at YouthSave, a consortium of philanthropic and educational organizations charged with helping develop financial literacy in third world children.

YouthSave’s goal is to help low-income teens in Columbia, Ghana, Kenya and Nepal develop savings habits. More than half of the children participating in this program from these four countries earn only $2 a day, according to the group’s officials.

YouthSave also brought representatives from all four countries to listen to and learn new youth savings strategies from the Capital One bankers .

“We absolutely believe that it’s important to have an economic cushion, but that’s not the end all and be all in our overall work,” said Rani Deshpande, YouthSave project director.

While YouthSave officials said they probably won’t replicate the entire Parkdale in-school baking program, and they have no illusions that the kids in the respective countries will amass wealth from saving their modest income, they do anticipate the program will assist these children in other ways that could lead to them becoming healthy, well-rounded adults.

“Research has actually shown that helping kids develop savings in their own name can help that have better cognitive functioning, better self-esteem, better educational outcomes and better attitudes and behaviors around sexual risk-taking,” Deshpande said. “It’s improving their overall youth development and quality of life indicators, in the end.”

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