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‘Kids Can Save’

Credit Union Using Financial Literacy App

The Southern Chautauqua Credit Union partnered with Zogo, a nationwide application that provides financial awareness services. Pictured from left are Candace Peterson, director of community development; Joseline Rosa, school-based branch coordinator; and Ajiah Muoio, Jamestown High School intern; at one of three high-school credit unions in Chautauqua County. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

LAKEWOOD — John Felton believes financial literacy among the local youth can improve the community. And Southern Chautauqua Credit Union’s partnership with the Zogo is another step on that path.

Felton, Southern Chautauqua Credit Union CEO, told The Post-Journal that the recent pairing really stems from the institution’s efforts to educate the youth 15 years ago.

Implementing community-based educational programs over the years has made Felton aware of one thing: “Kids can save.”

And since the CEO began with Southern Chautauqua in 1987, he has realized that “life isn’t about what you make, it’s what you do with what you got.”

“We have to teach people how to use money,” Felton remembered thinking many years ago.

Zogo is a national organization that provides financial literacy. One method to educate youth is by implementing its app that provides incentives to learning through financial-based trivia questions. Individuals who sign up for the app can level up by answering questions correctly.

“Zogo is such a timely application, built to connect with young adults as they are beginning to learn the value of money,” said Jack Antonini, president of NACUSO and former CEO of USAA Bank, in a statement. “Delivered through the ubiquitous mobile phone, this app can help credit unions capture new members, while teaching and reinforcing responsible financial habits.”

Through the local partnership, the credit union can organize the point system related to the prizes of its choosing. For example, Felton said the prizes can be in the form of gift cards to area stores.

While working with Zogo is fairly recent, Felton said that an emphasis on educating the youth began more than a decade ago.

Southern Chautauqua Credit Union has for many years instituted a Kids Credit Union program in 10 school districts throughout the county. Those school districts include Pine Valley, Jamestown, Frewsburg, Southwestern, Panama, Clymer, Brocton, Fredonia and Westfield. The program begins at the second grade level and offers 10% interest on savings.

Within this goal-based program, public school students are afforded the opportunity to save and invest their money. The goal of the youth-based credit union is to promote financial literacy and assist students in saving $10,000 by the time they graduate.

“That $10,000 is not tied to anything because we know that not every kid is college bound,” Felton said. “We designed the program to allow them to use that money as seed money to start their life.”

Currently, the credit union has 1,292 savings accounts from young students totalling $587,673.63.

Of those students, 3,551 financial goals have been met through the program totalling $1,129,600. Southern Chautauqua also has fully-operational branches in Frewsburg, Southwestern and Jamestown. There, high school students are able to become interns, furthering their financial awareness as well as earning workforce experience.

“They’re able to learn banking from our side of it as well as the consumer side of it,” Felton said of the internship program.

However, Felton said that with the Kids Credit Union, students in the program stray from the course around middle school.

Optimistically, Felton hopes that the collaboration with Zogo can reach those students that the other programs are not engaging. Student interns in the credit union branches will begin brainstorming marketing ideas ahead of the local release of Zogo in 2020.

“It immediately caught my attention as a product that will reach the middle-school category,” Felton said.

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