By HOPE HUSKEY
THE SEQUOYAH FUND
For the past four months, students at New Kituwah Academy have been bringing money to school to deposit into their savings accounts, but they recently got a behind the scenes tour of where that money is kept. The tour is a part of the Kituwah Savings Program, a project developed by the Sequoyah Fund to start kids thinking about money and saving at an early age.
“We were thrilled to partner with the Sequoyah Fund to invite the students of New Kituwah Academy to join us for a visit to the bank,” said Michelle Cochran, sales and service representative at First Citizens Bank. “I hope it was a fun and informative day for the children to learn more about savings and how to make their money grow. We at First Citizens Bank look forward to continuing to help them achieve a lifetime of financial success.”
The tours for Kindergarten – 3rd grade allowed students to peer behind the big vault doors, talk to customers in the drive thru, help bank employees count money, and make their deposits into their own savings accounts.
Since October 2013, 33 students at New Kituwah Academy have been regularly contributing to their savings accounts through bimonthly deposit days where First Citizen and Sequoyah Fund staff visit the school to take deposits and talk to the students about money and savings. When the project wraps up in March, participants will have potentially saved over $50 each with Sequoyah Fund matching their savings for a goal of $100 per participant.
For most students, this was their first time at the bank, but they handled it like professionals, forming lines at the teller counter, counting their money, and receiving a deposit slip. Then, it was story and snack time where the kids listened to Cochran as she read a story about why it is important to save. A tour followed and each student learned how the bank keeps his or her money safe. They also used an electronic bill counter to count money and watched themselves on the security monitors. There was even a lesson in interest when one participant discovered she had more money in her account than she had deposited.
“The bank visit was an important component to the program,” said John Ross of the Sequoyah Fund. “The kids have been great about regularly bringing their money to the school for deposit days so it was important for them to see how they can continue saving after the program is over.”
The Kituwah Savings Program is slated to end in March but Sequoyah Fund staff plans to check in with the participants and sign up new students in the future. “We want to provide the resources for Cherokee youth to be able to save and to understand why it’s important,” adds Ross, “and that includes continued support and education.”
The Kituwah Savings Program is a joint effort by Sequoyah Fund, First Citizens Bank, and New Kituwah Academy; and made possible by a grant from the Eastern Band Fund for Financial Literacy and Children’s Health, an affiliate fund of the North Carolina Community Foundation.