By Jessie Allen – In the midst of tough economic times, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Thousands of local students from more than 20 different schools in Kailua Kona and surrounding areas are gaining valuable financial literacy skills through the partnership of Banzai and Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union.
Banzai is an award-winning, financial literacy program that teaches high school and middle school students basic, financial concepts through real-life scenarios.This program is made available to middle and school students absolutely free due to the sponsorship of Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union.
As the sponsor of the first Student Credit Union in the state of Hawaii, youth financial literacy has been one of Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union’s priorities for over 40 years. In 2010, it piloted a Children Youth Savings program at one elementary school and now sponsors the program at eight elementary schools.
Creative and Youth Services Coordinator for Hawaii Community FCU, Kenneth Shaw, said they wanted to sponsor Banzai because they saw the sponsorship as a great investment that empowered teachers with the ability to provide their students with high quality education in financial literacy.
“We chose to sponsor Banzai because this partnership allowed us to provide full financial literacy courses to teachers for free,” Shaw said. “The web-based platform made it easy and convenient for both teachers and students to access courses and to track student progress. Since partnering with Banzai a year ago, 15 teachers from 10 different schools are utilizing the Banzai curriculum. The increased interest of the Banzai program tells us that teachers find benefit and value in this curriculum.”
Through this partnership, Shaw said that he believes together with Banzai, Hawaii Community Federal Credit Union is doing its part in making a difference.
“Financial literacy is beneficial when nurtured at a younger age, yet this type of curriculum isn’t common or mandatory throughout our schools,” Shaw said. “We have already experienced growth and excitement over the program in our first year and have already experienced schools looking to expand the program to reach all of their students at specific levels to provide them the financial knowledge that will make them financially smart as students and young adults. Banzai allows us to reach the youth in a very meaningful way and allows us to assist the schools in providing the materials and curriculum to the students.”
Shaw said they measure their growth and success with the program by teacher and student responses. Ellen Jacobs, a teacher at Konawaena Middle School, said she enjoys using the program with her students.
“It’s great to have a program well funded and easily accessible for the students of Hawaii,” Jacobs said. “The kids have really enjoyed doing it. We finished in two class periods and now are we are doing it again, just to reinforce the information. I’d recommend the program to anyone.”
A student from Konawaena Middle School likes using Banzai because it is preparing her for what she will face as she gets older. “Banzai is great because it helps me learn about money and money terms,” she said. “It also helps me manage my money. I think other students should learn about this because when they grow up they need to manage their money. My goal is that when I grow up I will know how much to spend and not spend all of my money on things I don’t need. Financial literacy is important to me so I can understand all of the money terms. I recommend Banzai so when kids become teens and adults they won’t be clueless about money and how to use it successfully.”
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