More than a decade ago, when Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union (FMFCU) noticed that many young people were not learning about budgeting or handling money, the credit union developed a financial literacy program to help members and their children. If kids learn how to handle money early, they can successfully use this knowledge for the rest of their lives. In April 2015, FMFCU and its Foundation formed an exclusive partnership with Berenstain Enterprises, Inc. and opened a Financial Literacy Center, Bear Country Credit Union.
Bear Country Credit Union creates a hands-on, interactive experience for young children to learn about money. As part of the experience, kindergarten through third-grade students are visited by an FMFCU Foundation educator. They hear a reading of The Berenstain Bears' Trouble with Money and then take a school field trip to explore Bear Country Credit Union. Children learn concepts of save, share, spend, and earn by assuming roles of tellers, member service representatives, and branch manager. Bear Country Credit Union looks just as it should: colorful, touchable, believable, and fun. What's not visible is the thoughtful design and planning to make it seem like the real thing, leading young children on the path to financial literacy in an engaging, safe, and interactive environment. Now the financial literacy program includes student-operated branches, a Partners in Learning Celebration dinner honoring outstanding students and teachers, and a scholarship program. Children receive a $10 one-time match from FMFCU when they deposit the contents of their piggy bank and again for a birthday deposit to help get them started.