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Postal Credit Union unveils new student branch at Tartan High School
Tartan High School in Oakdale is taking a “hands-on” approach to teaching financial literacy to its students.
Feb. 20 marked the grand opening of the new Postal Credit Union Student Branch, located in the Tartan DECA school store.
DECA teacher Craig Spreiter initiated the unique undertaking.
“Only about 26 percent of parents talk to their kids about finances,” Spreiter said, citing research conducted by the American Savings Education Council. “They should be getting this at home, but they’re not. There’s a real need for it.”
Postal Credit Union (PCU), which is headquartered in North St. Paul and has an open membership, seemed like a natural starting point to Spreiter.
“We’ve had a strong partnership with PCU for about 14 years, especially in our internship positions. We approached them last spring and started a dialogue about how to promote financial literacy for students,” Spreiter said.
He added that one of the main selling points was the existing infrastructure in the school store, built in 2006.
“All we really had to do was install the desk, signage and some new wires. The space was already here.”
The branch had its “soft launch” in January in order to ensure that all systems were functioning properly before revealing it to the public.
Installing a student-run credit union in a high school is a relatively new enterprise in Minnesota. There are only two others -- Hometown Credit Union with a branch in Owatonna High School and St. Paul Federal Credit Union in Como Park High School. Both opened in 2012.
The branch operates as a cash-free dialogue station, focusing more on member services. At Tartan all cash transactions will go through the PCU-owned ATM outside the school store, and its use is free for PCU members.
“You can deposit cash or checks into the ATM, receive cash and view your account all from the ATM,” Spreiter explained.
In order to be eligible to work at Tartan’s branch, a student must be an active member of the DECA program, an organization that focuses on business and marketing education for high school and college students.
There are three student employees - senior Geneva Eilertson, and juniors Austin Raebel and Marc Buchmayer. A fourth employee, junior Kelsie Ferstl, is currently being trained.
“It’s running pretty smoothly,” Buchmayer said.
“We’ve opened about six accounts so far,” Raebel added.
Employment with PCU fulfills DECA’s internship requirement. Though these students will work mainly at the Tartan branch, they have been fully trained by PCU employees.
“We trained one-on-one with a PCU member service representative,” Eilertson said. “We’re all familiar with the systems at PCU.”
As the current student employees graduate, other Tartan students will be trained to take their place.
“New students will fill our positions as we go out,” Raebel said. “We’ll have an ongoing relationship with PCU.”
Though graduation seems far away for these student employees, the financial education and experience they gain by working at the branch will prove to be invaluable to their careers, whether business-oriented or not.
“My goal is to own a Fortune 500 company,” Buchmayer explained. His time working at the Tartan branch will undoubtedly provide useful insight into financial management for the future.
The services and products offered to at the Tartan branch are specifically tailored to high school students.
“The student employees had input from day one. They designed the physical appearance of the desk area and chose which products to offer to students,” Spreiter said.
For starters, the branch will be open from 7:15 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and from 2:45 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This schedule is more convenient for high school students, who would normally be in class during usual operating hours.
The services Eilertson, Raebel and Buchmayer chose are designed to help students understand finances and get the most out of their money.
“It’s a safe and stable way to show that the student has a financially responsible credit history,” Spreiter explained. “It’s great for students who maybe want to buy a car or an apartment after graduation.”
With the opening of this student branch, he said Postal Credit Union and the high school have made a commitment to helping their students understand finances and money management.
“We couldn’t ask for a better partner,” Spreiter said.
The Postal Credit Union did not respond to a request for comment.
Johanna Holub can be reached at email@example.com or 651-748-7814.