Credit Union of Texas (CUTX) has partnered with Allen High School to open a full-service, student-run SMART Branch located inside the school, the first-of-its-kind for a financial institution in Dallas-Fort Worth. The location, staffed by junior and senior student employees along with one full-time CUTX employee, opened Jan. 4 and is available to all Allen High School students, faculty and staff during school hours.
The branch was developed as part of CUTX’s longstanding partnership with Allen ISD and the credit union’s ongoing commitment to the communities it serves.
“The goal for our new branch is to provide students with the financial resources and education that will prepare them for life,” said Desmond Bibbs, CUTX community engagement manager and program lead. “While we hope to establish long-term Credit Union of Texas members and help our student employees gain valuable job skills, our real success with this branch will be empowering students to make great financial decisions in the future.”
More than 200 junior and senior students applied for the 15 available bank manager, teller, financial literacy coach and marketer roles at the SMART Branch, named for its focus on Servant leadership, Motivation, Active learning, Reasoning and Technology. Prior to the branch opening, each student employee received two weeks of training in banking, marketing and financial literacy. As part of their roles, the group will design the image for Allen High School’s own debit card.
The student employees were chosen based on a variety of criteria, including their interest in or study of business or marketing, academic records, dedication to volunteerism, teacher recommendations, public speaking skills and interviews. All student employees receive a $1,000 scholarship earmarked for future education-related needs each year they are employed with the branch. All junior grade-level employees are eligible for re-hiring, although they must maintain their qualifications and interview again. CUTX will consider all Allen High School student employees as potential future hires for permanent careers at the credit union.
In addition to providing the same services available at other CUTX branches, including checking and savings accounts and auto loans, the Allen High School branch also offers a “Pay for Grades” initiative. The semi-annual program is designed to reward students who receive excellent report cards with deposit funds – $25 for each A and $5 for each B – into their CUTX accounts.
All Allen High School students also have access to the new CUTX financial literacy center located within the school’s College and Career Center adjacent to the branch. CUTX partnered with the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) to develop a modified version of its High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP). The program offers a series of CUTX student employee-led modules on topics including money management, loans, credit, investing and more. CUTX permanent employees will also offer informational sessions regularly on a variety of topics, including home equity loans, refinancing and auto loans, to Allen High School faculty and staff.
“Our priority is providing our students a wide array of learning opportunities to enhance their academic experience and prepare them for the future,” said Allen High School Principal Matt Russell. “The new SMART Branch and its financial literacy center not only creates a valuable workplace for selected students, but also gives each of our students, faculty and staff convenient access to vital financial education tools.”
Following the successful launch of the Allen High School SMART Branch, CUTX plans to expand its SMART Branch openings to other schools – and has already been approached by several area school districts interested in replicating the program.