Southern Chautauqua Credit Union Opens Branch At JHS

Melissa Johnson, from the Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union, recently worked with JHS student-interns, Hannah Frederick and Delante Jones, in the credit union’s branch office located in the JHS library.

Jamestown High School students are being given the unique opportunity to learn more about financial responsibilities with the help of Southern Chautauqua Federal Credit Union (SCFCU). As an extension of their award-winning Kids’ Credit Union, the local business opened a branch in the JHS library at no cost to the school. According to John Felton, SCFCU’s CEO, “Our goal is simple: to partner with JHS to assist students in becoming financially productive adults.” This is SCFCU’s second school-based branch in Chautauqua County with another branch at Southwestern High School.

“I explored the concept of bringing a credit union in house a few years ago,” said Dave Munella, Business Department Chair. “When I went to a conference last year, I talked with some individuals who had brought them in-house at a school. This seemed like a good fit for JHS. With the growing concept of our Academies and more emphasis being placed on financial management, it was a natural partnership. It gives students and teachers access to financial programs without leaving the building.”

In addition to offering banking services and scholarships to students, SCFCU is working with JHS’ Academy of Business, Management, Marketing and Technology to offer internships to JHS students at the JHS branch. “As the only financial institution in the county that is also a federally-designated Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), SCFCU operates school-based branches as part of our commitment to provide educational resources to the community,” said Candace Peterson-White, SCFCU’s Director of Community Development.

JHS Academy teachers reached out to students they thought would benefit from the internship. Students completed an application process, which included letters of recommendation and an interview with Southern Chautauqua FCU. Interns will learn about the many different aspects of banking, including: processing transactions, providing members with great customer service, and marketing the JHS branch to fellow students and staff.

The first group of student interns to work alongside credit union employees at the JHS branch is Hannah Frederick, Delante Jones and Breanna Crawford.

“I decided to apply for the internship because I can learn valuable life lessons,” said JHS sophomore Hannah Frederick. “I can learn the different aspects of banking that I might not be aware of. It also allows me to test out a potential career while I am still in high school to see what I am interested in. It will help to know what I enjoy doing before I get out in the real-world.”

The branch operates at no cost to the school district, but great benefit to its students who can use the on-site facility.

“I wanted to apply to be an intern at the credit union because I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn skills needed for future employment,” said JHS senior Breanna Crawford. “I hope to learn new things and hope this opportunity can lead to a job after high school or even a career.”

SCFCU’s program uses a “Teach, Test, Try” concept that requires students to learn the basics of each product level before they are eligible to participate. The process begins in ninth grade with each grade level’s financial education building throughout their high school years:

¯ 9th grade: Student Savings Account teaches students how to build good saving habits

¯ 10th grade: Student Checking Account with Visa Debit Card lets students plan for and manage expenses, as well as experience online and mobile banking

¯ 11th grade: Credit Builder “Loan” (Up to $500) helps students take the first steps to establishing credit in a safe, controlled environment

¯ 12th grade: Line of Credit allows students to test their new skills and positively impact their credit with the support and guidance of SCFCU staff.

“I wanted to be an intern just to try something new out,” said JHS sophomore Delante Jones. “I think it is really good to have something like this at JHS, because it gives students an opportunity to learn more about finances, like having a bank account, before they get out of school.”

SCFCU’s School Based Branch at JHS is open to students and staff only from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. when school is in session.