This fall, Como Park Sr. High School will be home to a branch of the St. Paul Federal Credit Union. When the branch is up and running, students who go to the school will help operate it.
Principal Dan Mesick has a vision. “We have to make sure that it looks nice and is a good thing and an attractive thing for the school and students to be a part of,” Mesick said.
Next school year, the empty space just steps from the cafeteria will be transformed into the credit union.
About 90 schools in Wisconsin already have credit unions, and at Como Park, student employees will help other students manage their money.
“In a credit union, it is a lot different,” Tyler Redden said. “You have more of a member base so you get to know people by name and know them more.”
Redden who is a senior, often has money on his mind. For more than a year, Redden has left the St. Paul high school at lunch time and gone to his job as a teller. Redden thinks kids his age need money help.
“A lot of my friends that are in college right now are like, ‘oh yeah I have five credit cards and they’re all maxed out.’”
According to the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, college freshmen bring an average of nearly $1600 in credit card debt to campus.
Principal Mesick believes the credit union will help his graduates avoid debt. “Kids need to know about banking, they need to know how to save money, and need to know how to avoid debt,” Mesick said.
Mesick hopes his school can serve as a model for other schools in the Twin Cities.
The students who apply and are hired to work at the credit union will have to pass a background check.
Mesick says the plan, for now, is to have kids deposit checks during the lunch hour because he does not want students bringing a lot of cash to class.