As part of its ongoing commitment to responsible banking and to help increase youth financial education, Union Bank, N.A., partnered with financial dignity nonprofit Operation HOPE, (HOPE) and Variety Boys and Girls Club (VBGC) in Boyle Heights to educate youth ages 14-17 about the basics of personal finance. Union Bank volunteers began teaching HOPE's award-winning youth financial literacy program, Banking on Our Future, to members of VBGC June 19, 2012. The five-week program culminated with a recognition ceremony to celebrate the students' completion of the program on Tuesday, July 17.
The Banking on Our Future curriculum offers five modules focused on teaching students the Basics of Banking, Checking and Saving Accounts, the Power of Credit and Basic Investments. There is also a course titled "Dignity." Each week, teens participating in the program learned practical lessons by using hands-on calculations and real-world examples.
"We applaud Union Bank and Operation HOPE for teaching this course to many of the teens at our club. Financial education is an extraordinarily valuable life skill that every teen and young adult should have access to, and our students benefitted greatly," said Variety Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Cris Arzate. "The enthusiasm shown by the students throughout the program and the confidence depicted on their faces as they received their completion certificates proves that this financial education program is an excellent example of businesses and community-based organizations investing in the lives and futures of our youth."
In the culminating ceremony held July 17, Union Bank and HOPE executives formally acknowledged and awarded certificates to the students for successfully completing the program. During the ceremony, Noticias 62 (KRCA) Estrella TV's News Anchor Socorro Cruz addressed the students and special guests.
"Union Bank is committed to educating our future leaders, and our partnership with HOPE helps us to not only support financial literacy programs throughout the year but to also encourage employee volunteerism," said Union Bank Vice President and Foundation Community Outreach Officer Rossina Gallegos. "It is an honor to be able to bring HOPE's Banking on Our Future program to Variety Boys & Girls Club. This has been our largest class to complete the course to date, and the students' eagerness to learn is inspiring. We hope to teach many more Boys & Girls Club members in the future."
The classroom edition of Banking on Our Future is a critical element of HOPE's FIVE MILLION KIDS Initiative aimed at making kids money-smart and lowering the school dropout rate in America. Union Bank was the first national sponsor of the initiative.
HOPE Market Vice President Leo Cablayan sums up the commitment to financial literacy saying, "Involving the entire community, from volunteers, to the banking sector, to parents, teachers and celebrities like Quincy Jones, HOPE is focused on empowering youth and making a tangible difference in their lives and the communities we serve."
Banking on Our Future was designed to elevate the dignity, hope, and economic self-sufficiency of people in low-wealth communities through financial empowerment. Since its inception, the program has reached more than 640,000 students in more than 700 schools and community-based organizations in the U.S., South Africa and Haiti.
"As a former teacher, it was truly a pleasure to be back in the classroom setting," says Union Bank Branch Manager Maria Bautista, one of the volunteer teachers. "The students' positive energy was very motivating, and it was fulfilling to experience their eagerness to learn each week."