Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Charlotte Metro Credit Union opening 'branch' at West Meck

Charlotte Metro Credit Union said Tuesday that it is opening an in-school branch at West Mecklenburg High this week.

A dozen student volunteers have undergone training and will man the office each Thursday during lunch time. Students will be able to open an account and make deposits, but not withdrawals. They'll get a debit card and lessons on how to manage their finances.

“Hawks Metro Credit Union” will operate as an extension of a traditional CMCU branch, and money will be moved to the main branch at the end of each day.

“With this hands-on project, and through the aid of teachers, students involved as staff and customers can learn about the basics of financial decision-making and develop good, sustainable spending habits,” CMCU employee and project adviser Shirley Floyd said.

This is the third in-school branch Charlotte Metro Credit Union has opened at Charlotte high schools. The program began in 2009 at Garinger High. The credit union later opened a branch at Harding High in 2011.

In-school branchers are fairly common around the country, and traditionally run by credit unions and community banks as a way to educate kids about financial topics. The Credit Union National Association lists more than 300 in-school bank branches across the country, including two in North Carolina (in Winston-Salem and Reidsville).

Some larger banks run limited in-school programs as well. PNC Bank has programs at Reedy Creek Elementary School and Pinewood Elementary School in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools system.

Wells Fargo has operated an in-school branch at an Alaskan high school for years, inherited when it acquired the National Bank of Alaska. SunTrust has a weekly banking day at an elementary school in Atlanta.

Regulators generally look favorably on these arrangements. On occasion, consumer groups have criticized them for marketing individual brands to children.

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