Dupaco Partnership Focuses on Financial Literacy for Kids

WATERLOO, Iowa – A three-way partnership between Dupaco Community Credit Union, Tri-County Child and Family Development Council, and CUNA Mutual Group Foundation is teaching 3- and 4-year-olds the value of money and savings to put them on the path to financial wellness.

The financial literacy class, “It starts with me!” is designed to teach 200 Head Start children in Waterloo about money and help them start saving. It also jump-starts the children’s savings accounts by providing their first deposits.  The monthly series of money lessons will cover everything from where money comes from to how to spend and save it.  The series kicked off Oct. 9 in a Tri-County Head Start classroom at Waterloo’s Eastside Ministerial Alliance building. 

“They’ve heard of money, but they don’t understand the concept,” said Becky Beschorner, lead community outreach and education representative at Dupaco. “We started with the penny, and we’ll work our way through all of the coins and get into how many coins equal a dollar.”

During the first lesson, each child received a Dupaco piggy bank and a penny to put in it. The kids were encouraged to bring their coins from home to start growing their savings. At the end of the series, the children can add their coins to their Dupaco savings accounts. As their parents continue to open the accounts, the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation seeds each one with their first $25.

“We at Tri-County Head Start know we are the beginning of these Iowa children’s formal education process,” said John Berry, CEO and executive director of Tri-County. “Our collaboration with Dupaco and the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation is proving to be a powerful, transformative partnership, given the multi-complex challenges that these children will face.”

Dupaco’s partnership with Tri-County began three years ago, when the credit union’s community outreach and education team started working with the organization’s employees. The team brings the credit union philosophy of people helping people to workplaces in the community—giving employees access to financial education and services where they work.

Dupaco began providing financial guidance and services to Tri-County employees during staff meetings. Dupaco’s outreach team then started attending Tri-County’s monthly family fun nights in the community, serving as a financial resource for attendees before the Dupaco RW Hoefer Foundation turbo-charged the credit union’s efforts by providing tablets to Tri-County classrooms, helping enrich the children’s learning experiences.

When it comes to helping families achieve their dreams, and break generational poverty, financial literacy is key, Berry said. Thanks to the partnership, more Tri-County families are getting opportunities to break away from a paycheck-to-paycheck cycle by learning about thrift, budgeting, saving, credit history and goal setting.

The latest initiative—financial literacy for kids in the classroom—further supports Dupaco’s education-rooted mission, said Michelle Becwar, Dupaco’s partnership development supervisor.

“This partnership allows for that holistic approach to help empower individuals through financial education and affordable financial services,” she said. “By teaching kids the value of money and how to save, it will help the children and their families develop healthy money behaviors to improve their financial positions.”

The latest efforts are already paying off.  During the past few months, more than 50 Tri-County kids have established Dupaco savings accounts, each seeded with $25 from the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation, Beschorner said. Not only that, but the families are already saving even more on their own. So far, participating families have saved an additional $1,200 and counting through a combination of systematic saving and periodic deposits, Beschorner said. “It’s working. This is what we wanted to happen,” she said.

Many parents are automatically saving a set amount for their children each time they’re paid. Automatic deposits range from a dollar to $25.  But the amount isn’t what’s important right now, Beschorner said.

“No matter the dollar amount, they’re getting into the habit of saving and realizing, ‘I can save for my child’s future,’” she said. “Even if it’s a dollar, that’s one extra dollar they weren’t saving before.”

Connecting with these children while they’re still young can help solidify healthy money habits. It also can spark important family conversations at home.  “It’s never too early to start having conversations about how money works,” Beschorner said. “At this point, we’re just trying to let them know it’s OK to talk about money and let them know there is a financial home here to help them.”

ABOUT DUPACO COMMUNITY CREDIT UNION:

Dupaco Community Credit Union is a not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative. It is dedicated to the financial sustainability of its members, and specializes in customized financial counseling, money advice and education. It offers savings, loans, investments, insurance and wealth management products for individuals and businesses. Dupaco serves residents in 108 counties throughout Iowa, northwest Illinois and southwest Wisconsin. Chartered in 1948, membership totals more than 122,000 with assets exceeding $1.8 billion. Visit Dupaco at www.dupaco.com.

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