Carbondale students take it to the bank
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE ” Even in this rocky financial climate, a new bank will be opening in Carbondale this spring. Perhaps even more concerning, most of its clients won’t have jobs.
They will, however, have allowances ” and savings goals that range from a new snowboard to college tuition. The new bank will only be for students.
The bank hopes to open by April at the Partnering for Success center, within the former Carbondale Middle School. There, Carbondale-based nonprofit Computers for Kids already has remodeled a section of the old school into a state-of-the-art business center for kids, complete with an iPod lounge, a flat-screen television always showing financial news, a cyber-cafe, and a conference room with telephone and video conferencing.
The project is a joint venture between Computers for Kids and Alpine Bank and will technically be a branch of the latter. The partnership means that Computers for Kids won’t have to jump through the hoops to charter its own bank, or raise the capital required to start up a bank.
“I think it will be the only bank of its kind,” said Kirsten McDaniel, executive director of Computers for Kids.
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She noted that while there are a few independent youth banks ” such as the Young Americans Bank in Denver ” she doesn’t know of any youth branches of community banks.
Alpine Bank and the Robert J. Young Foundation also have provided much of the funding for the bank, in the form of a $25,000 grant it made to the Partnering for Success center.
Students ” with supervision ” will staff the bank, which will likely keep student hours. Kids will also determine the services which the bank will offer, according to McDaniel.
Kirsten McDaniel, executive director of Computers for Kids, said she is organizing student marketing groups to determine the banking services most needed by kids. One group of third- and fourth-grade students at Crystal River Elementary School has started work and McDaniel expected to have two more groups started soon, likely at Carbondale Middle School and either Roaring Fork High School or Aspen High School.
In their first few meetings, said McDaniel, the Crystal River Elementary students were given a basic under standing of banking services, so they would know what services could be offered by the student bank.
Almost immediately, McDaniel said, the elementary students developed strong opinions about what the bank should offer. Many, for example, take a hard line against offering credit cards to third- and fourth-grade students, she said.
“They feel that [using credit cards] is not something they want to encourage young people to do,” McDaniel said. “They’re very emotional about credit cards.”
However, McDaniel said, the students have “warmer feelings” toward savings accounts and debit cards. The student marketing groups will also help design an educational component of the bank to teach concepts such as compounded interest and to help students set their own financial goals. The overall goal is to be able to introduce kids to money and banking earlier in their life, help them create goals, and give them a chance to implement their goals, McDaniel said.
Reflecting on her own experiences with money, McDaniel said she wished she had learned financial literacy at an earlier age.
“I would have made better choices,” she admitted.
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