As an announcement rang through the halls of Scott Elementary School, students hurried to the front with money in hand, gathering around a box of toys near the school’s front office.
They were meeting on a recent Wednesday with Joanne Stetler, a banker from Washington Federal’s Aliante Branch, to deposit money into their bank accounts through a program called Save at School. Stetler, of North Las Vegas, is one of three bankers who visit the school twice a month to help students make deposits into savings accounts created through the program, a partnership between Washington Federal’s Aliante branch and the school aimed at helping students save money.
“Students only need to contribute $5 to open the account,” Stetler said, “and Washington Federal matches their first $5. We work with them to keep up with finances. The students bring in their money; we collect their money and then bring it back to the branch to make the deposits. We keep up with the students through tracking sheet, but they have to sign off on how much they’re giving us and they’re each given a record book so they can keep up with it, too.”
The program was introduced at Scott in 2010, Stetler said. It has proved to be a much-needed resource for students, said principal Dana Roseman.
“There aren’t any banks in the immediate vicinity … that would allow them to have access to that,” Roseman said.
One student saved enough money to open up a certificate of deposit, which is a timed account with a fixed interest rate and fixed date of withdrawal, Stetler said. More interest is earned through such accounts, she added.
“You put a dollar in today, that dollar can turn into much more, and that’s really important for them to learn,” Roseman said of students.
Stetler, who started her banking career about 30 years ago, said many youths don’t learn how to manage money.
“Financial literacy is so important, and elementary school kids are still at an age where they will absorb everything,” she said. “This is a way we can help teach them how to manage their money so they’re successful as adults.”