Cook Area Credit Union opens student-run branch at North Woods School

Cook Area CU Money Cave student branch

press release: Minnesota Credit Union Network 03/21/2014 – COOK, Minn. – Cook Area Credit Union celebrated the grand opening of its new student-run branch at North Woods School on March 11. The branch, dubbed the Money Cave, is open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. The branch is a convenient on-site service for both students and staff and includes access to ATMs.

“Having this branch in the school will help create a generation of savers,” said Rich Crettol, chief executive officer of Cook Area CU. “The sooner young people learn the benefits of long-term saving, the better off they will be.”

The grand opening event included the reading of a letter from Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, recognizing the new branch office and Cook Area CU’s commitment to teaching young people the financial literacy skills they’ll need in the years ahead.

The addition of the credit union branch at North Woods School has been a project guided with input from B.O.S.S. – Bunch of Students Saving – a student focus group that works with Cook Area CU to teach financial education in the school. B.O.S.S. members will staff the school’s branch with supervision from Cook Area CU staff.

To help encourage students to begin saving money, the Money Cave is offering special incentives. Students in grades 4-12 will earn chances for prizes based on their third-quarter grade – the higher their grades, the more chances they’ll have to win. Students in grades K-3 will receive Grizzly pouches and earn a Grizzly paw stamp each time they make a deposit. They can pick prizes from a special bin for each five Grizzly paw stamps they earn, or they can save them for a larger prize later.

“We’re trying to get them motivated and encourage them to start saving,” said Crettol. “It is wonderful to see the light come on in the kids’ eyes when they get the concept of how the value of their money can grow over time.”

Crettol also stressed Cook Area CU’s ongoing mission for developing good financial habits for youngsters. The credit union has been bringing speakers on financial topics to the school since 2006 and the new student-run branch is an extension of that mission.

As credit unions throughout Minnesota gear up for financial literacy month in April, the concept of in-school, student-run credit unions as teaching tools continues to build momentum. The Cook Area CU branch at North Woods School is one of five that are now operating in the state.

“Partnering with our schools to educate young Minnesotans on the money management skills they’ll need in the years ahead helps provide a stronger financial future for all of us,” said Minnesota Credit Union Network President & CEO Mark D. Cummins. “Credit unions continually help their members’ build financial knowledge for the long-term.”