When the opportunity was offered to oversee the Atomic Credit Union branch at Pickaway-Ross, Social Studies teacher Katie Siers was happy to get on board.
“Because I teach Econ I said absolutely, that's in my wheelhouse,” Katie said.
Atomic Credit Union partnered with Pickaway-Ross in the fall of 2019. As many career center students go on job placement and earn paychecks, it was important that they learned how to handle a banking account.
“It gives them the opportunity to start being young adults and have a place to put that money that they're making,” Katie said.
For workers who don’t have a bank account, employers may pay them with an electronic card and employers pay a fee for the card that is passed on to the employee.
“So this helps our kids keep all of their money,” Katie said.
While students can make deposits any Friday afternoon during the career center’s mentoring period, they also can access their accounts at any Atomic branch office.
Katie said a point she likes to reinforce to students is to open a checking and savings account.
“When you get a paycheck, I tell them, put $5, $10 in that savings account. Over time it will grow. But you have to get in the habit of paying yourself first. And if you have those two accounts it's simple just to set that aside.”
Students banking at the credit union on Fridays see familiar faces as Atomic trained 10 students as tellers.
“I've got a good mix of juniors and seniors and they've been incredible. They've taken on the roles really well,” Katie said. “I've been very impressed to see them step up and take ownership of it.”
Katie said is especially pleased when a student tells her he or she encouraged a friend to open an account.
Andy Eisnaugle, Atomic’s director of Financial Education said nearly 50 students have an account within the student-run program.
Account holders are eligible to apply for a $500 scholarship (https://www.pickawayross.com/Downloads/Atomic%20CU%20Scholarship.pdf). Students must have opened the account by Dec. 31.
Katie is working with Holly Smith and her students in Visual Communication & Design with plans to create a marketing campaign to get more students to join the credit union.
Her tellers have suggested having an appreciation day where credit union members show their card and get hot chocolate or pizza.
“What can we do to make this a cool fun thing,” Katie said she asked her tellers, wanting to emphasize the value of a bank account.
“We have the absolute applicability of why it's valuable: Because our kids are getting jobs. It's an awesome opportunity for us to help them make sure they are on the path to having a successful future.”