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A Publication of WTVP

For decades, financial institutions have been viewed as cornerstones of support throughout the community. Central Illinois benefits from the generosity of its local banks, credit unions and other financial institutions, which provide money and a volunteer base to local organizations and community initiatives, such as Junior Achievement (JA).

In 1977, Congress passed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which encourages depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they operate, including low-and-moderate-income neighborhoods. Junior Achievement of Central Illinois partners with financial institutions and other local businesses to provide a means to reinvest in the community through financial literacy education and to meet the CRA requirements.

This type of partnership truly makes a difference in the lives of children, and thus, the community. Studies show that individuals who do not understand the purpose of financial institutions or how to use their products and services are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to their personal finance management.

Recently, Junior Achievement implemented a program that strives to help high school students understand the operations of financial institutions. Developed through a grant to JA Worldwide from the Citi Foundation, JA Banks in Action focuses on human capital, interest, long- and short-term saving instruments, loans and credit. The program provides students with the challenge of operating a bank in a competitive environment that simulates the real banking world while also learning personal finance from a consumer’s point of view.

Students are afforded the opportunity to learn elements of banking—interest rates, credits, deposit certificates and term loans—and operational expenditures, such as those for marketing and research and development.

Along with the importance of understanding the workings of corporate financial institutions, Junior Achievement also emphasizes personal financial management awareness. Banks and financial institutions understand this need as well and have put their support behind another newly launched program: Junior Achievement Presents: The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) High School Financial Planning Program. This range of classroom experiences introduces students to goal-setting, planning and thoughtful decision-making in the realm of personal financial responsibility.

These programs, along with other Junior Achievement programs, are taught by JA Classroom Consultants (that means adults just like you); a significant percentage of Junior Achievement’s 550+ classrooms in central Illinois are taught by the employees of financial institutions.

Financial literacy education begins long before students enter high school. Whether it’s learning the basics of saving in kindergarten, check writing in third, currency exchange rates in sixth or the difference of cash versus credit in eighth grade, JA and its partners are dedicated to educating youth in the subjects of financial literacy, economics, workforce readiness and entrepreneurship. Our local financial institutions are helping to transform the lives of these students by showing them their own potential and making them aware of the world around them. IBI

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