Capital One Lets Harlem Students Become Fully-Fledged Bankers

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NY1
By: Tara Lynn Wagner
April 20, 2010

Capital One Bank recently opened its third student-run branch at a Harlem high school, and its participants hope to teach financial literacy to their fellow students. NY1's Money Matters reporter filed the following report.
Students from Harlem's Thurgood Marshall Academy may look a little young to be bankers, but now 10 students are trained tellers who operate their own branch of Capital One Bank. They are able to offer products and services to fellow students and school administrators.

"Through this project, we are providing our youth with critical skills and practical experience required to succeed in the real world," says the Reverend Calvin Butts of Abyssinian Baptist Church.

In fact, the 10 seniors involved in this project are already succeeding in the real world, working at a local Capital One branch on weekends. Some see this as the beginning of lifelong career in banking, while others say they have been able to apply the discipline they have learned on the job to their academic work.

"Initially it wasn't something I was interested in pursuing, but now that I got my feet wet in this field, I'm going to go major in business administration, hopefully," says student banker Matthew Reyes.

"It showed me how much education is important in your life and it teaches you knowledge, and you need that," says student banker Michael Booker. "So it helped my grades profoundly."

Rather than rely on adults to lecture students about money issues, the student bankers will also participate in a peer-to-peer financial literacy program, passing on what they've learned to their classmates.

"The student bankers are role models. And sometimes adults can say things and kids think we don't understand, we're out of their age range. But if their peers tell them, peer-to-peer, then they might take it more seriously," says Dr. Sandye Poitier-Johnson, the principal of Thurgood Marshall Academy.

"What we want them to get out of it is to learn how to save their money, because college is the next step after high school and college is extremely expensive," says Reyes. "They need to learn how to budget their money, so that's what we're going to be trying to teach them."

U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios thinks those lessons should be learned firsthand, rather than through books and papers.

"To be able to have that social interaction with the public, to be able to understand what it means to take risks with debt, to be able to know how your savings today is going to appreciate for your future tomorrow," says Rios. "Those are skill sets you would never be able to know unless you live them. So having this opportunity, you will definitely live them."

So financial literacy can be spread, one student and one savings account at a time.

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