1st Financial Federal Credit Union Opens 2,800 College Savings Accounts for St. Louis Students

December 2nd, 2015 1st Financial Federal Credit Union announces a partnership with the City of St. Louis Treasury Office to create 2,800 accounts for their College Kids Savings Account Program which will be used to support college savings efforts for every kindergartner in the City of St. Louis.

The City of St. Louis has one of the largest underbanked populations in the nation. An estimated 14 percent of St. Louis City families have no accounts at traditional financial institution while the national average is 9.7 percent. Because they lack access to a banking account, these residents are more likely to fall prey to payday lenders and high-fee check-cashing businesses.

Once a resident starts using these services instead of traditional financial institutions, it is often very difficult to get out from under the loan due to uncapped fees and hidden penalties. The best way to ensure our children are protected from living loan to loan is by guaranteeing that our youth are financially literate and have a chance to get a college education. Unfortunately, many of the families who live in the City of St. Louis are not ready to assume the financial burden of saving for college and past mistakes leave them unable to open an account at a traditional financial institution.

The City of St. Louis Treasurer’s Office has developed an innovative program to help kick start the saving process and ease the burden for families. The College Kids Children’s Savings Account Program encourages college savings and promotes financial literacy for the City’s schoolchildren and families through children’s savings accounts, financial education, incentives, and dollar-for-dollar matches. 1st Financial Federal Credit Union was chosen by the City of St. Louis Treasurer’s Office to open over 2,800 accounts and provide ongoing financial support to help the students save for their college education. Additionally, 1st Financial will offer support for participant’s families in order to further serve the St. Louis area. The Treasurer’s Office kick started the program on December 1st with a $175,000.00 deposit.

“My office has made a commitment to invest in the future by providing college savings accounts for EVERY kindergartener in a public school throughout the City of St. Louis,” says Treasurer Tishaura O. Jones. “Our partnership with 1st Financial Federal Credit Union allows parents and family members to make deposits into the savings accounts at any shared branch location. Together, we are eliminating barriers to college access one savings account at a time!”

Having a college savings account, regardless of the balance, can be enough motivation to pursue a college education. Even children with low balances as low as $1 in a dedicated savings account are 2.5 times more likely to enroll in and graduate from college than students with no previous savings. The initial $50 seed deposit used to open the accounts is provided by the City of St. Louis Treasurer’s Office, coming from parking fees collected by the City of St. Louis. Students can then earn additional incentives including:

• Weekly Perfect Attendance: Students can earn $1/week during the school year for attending school and arriving on time for each day of school in session that week.

• Smart Saver: Deposits will receive a dollar-for-dollar match, up to $100 during the first year.

• Financial Education: Parents and guardians are able to earn an additional $50 in contributions by completing financial education courses in-person, online through Wells Fargo Hands on Banking® and through the College Kids smartphone app.

1st Financial will offer support for participant’s families in order to further serve the St. Louis area. The secondary goal of the program is to reduce the unbanked population of St. Louis by teaching the children and their families about the responsible use of money and how to avoid getting trapped in the cycle of payday loan businesses. The College Kids Program will ensure access to healthy banking services for underbanked and unbanked citizens, while developing a culture of savings and asset building.

For more information about the College Kids Program, please visit http://www.stlofe.org/collegekids

For more information about 1st Financial Federal Credit Union and the credit union difference, please visit www.1stfinancialfcu.org

2015-12-1 College Kids Press Conference (2)

Pictured from Left to Right: Carol Minges, Chief Executive Officer for 1st Financial Federal Credit Union; Tracy Verner, Community Development Manager for 1st Financial Federal Credit Union; Laura Woods, Vice President of Marketing and Community Presence for 1st Financial Federal Credit Union; and Tishaura Jones, City of St. Louis Treasurer.

About 1st Financial Federal Credit Union

Like many credit unions, 1st Financial is a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative committed to providing quality services to the membership while demonstrating safe and sound business practices. 1st Financial Federal Credit Union was chartered on September 3, 1968 as District 837 Credit Union by the International Association of Machinist members employed by McDonnell Douglas. For over 45 years, 1st Financial has provided members with a full line of dependable financial products and services which returns profits to the members in the form of reasonable rates on loans and higher savings yields.

Today, with over 30,000 members and $204 million in assets, 1st Financial is able to serve anyone who lives, works (regularly does business in), worships or attends school in the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County or St. Charles County. Deposits are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), an agency of the U.S. Government.

Not a credit union member? Visit www.TheBetterWayToBank.org for more information.