Boys & Girls Clubs Of the Mississippi Valley’s Teen Center

photo 1A child who witnesses their parents’ negative experiences or lack of any interaction with financial institutions is likely to learn that lesson and apply it when they come of age by using alternative financial services like check cashers, wire transfers, payday loans, or money orders to circumvent financial institutions. Using alternative financial services instead of banks or credit unions is called being “unbanked” and there are many costs and dangers associated with it. Those who are unbanked pay to cash every paycheck.

Every month they have to pay at least a few dollars per phone, gas, electric, and internet bill. That’s four extra costs per month for basic utilities. These costs add up, stripping families of their income and reducing their ability to save, let alone make ends meet.
As a large portion of parents whose kids spend their time at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valley (BGCMV) are unbanked, the Club saw an opportunity as they expanded into a new facility.

Innovation of Access

photo 3_0The BGCMV’s new Teen Center is a large modern facility with a computer lab, kitchen, breakout areas, recreation games, classrooms, and a credit union. Yes, a full service IH Credit Union location, with a curbside presence is open to the public at the Teen Center. BGCMV hopes to create positive banking experiences for both parents and children through this credit union.

Many of those who work with unbanked populations stress that past negative experiences with banks or never having walked through a bank’s front doors is part of the reason why many who are unbanked stay unbanked. Who to talk to first, how to interact, what you can and can’t ask for, all of these aspects of banking in person are second nature to those who grew up with banked parents, but are foreign to those who never stepped foot in a bank before.¬† Members who grow up inside the Teen Center, and their parents, will have new positive experiences with a financial institution, making it easier for them in the future.

A Comprehensive Approach to Financial Education
Teen Center Coming SoonTo prepare their members to make sound financial decisions as adults, BGCMV is taking a comprehensive approach to financial empowerment. They are working with local financial institutions, public school representatives, and financial education advocates to develop a curriculum tailored for their members.  Furthermore, teens that have successfully completed certain club programs will work in the attached credit union. IH Credit Union will train and employ 10-12 teenage members at a time to work at the site. This will be a great workforce development tool and provide a stepping stone into financial services careers.

Much like when local industry giant John Deere partners with Quad Cities Area schools to offer a STEM career track where students interested in engineering or math can find internships and potential employment at John Deere, the BGCMV hopes to pair financial education in local public schools with local credit unions and banks to offer a financial services career track. As with STEM career tracks, whether or not students end up at a specified company after graduation, those participating  will learn valuable skill sets to aid in their future financial decisions.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Mississippi Valley has multiple locations within the Quad Cities (Rock Island, IL, East Moline, IL, Davenport, IA and Bettendorf, IA).

This is the second installment of a series of blogs on Innovations in Asset Building. The first installment on Texas’ Scalable Small Dollar Loan program can be found here.

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