ACCU Partners with Community College to Teach Financial Literacy Serving Foster Youth
America’s Christian Credit Union (ACCU), a faith-based financial institution headquartered in Glendora, CA, recently conducted a financial literacy workshop serving foster youth at Pasadena City College (PCC). In keeping with one of its key corporate priorities of building stronger futures, ACCU provided the students with basic financial knowledge.
Held at PCC’s Foothill campus, the sessions covered topics such as balancing a checkbook, building a good credit score, setting financial goals, and budgeting. A dozen ACCU staff members volunteered their time on three consecutive Saturdays—July 13, 20, and 27.
Workshop presenter Rachel, an Accounting staff at ACCU, had personal reasons for her involvement. Having made financial mistakes in the past, Rachel felt she had something to contribute based on her own experience. She was also inspired by her mother, who had grown up in foster care. “When I told my mom what we were doing, she was really excited about it,” recalls Rachel. “She said that as a foster kid you don’t feel like you belong to yourself, and it’s great that ACCU can come alongside and help these young people.”
The driving force behind this groundbreaking initiative was PCC's STARS Advisor and FYSI Liaison, Theresa Reed. “I observed a good percentage of the training and I loved it,” says Reed. “The workshops were very interactive and engaging, and I liked that the ACCU team rallied around students to assist them with activities.”
The students themselves had positive feedback to offer. Eustolia, who is training to be a welder, said she learned how the bank system works. “I also learned about credit cards, and that was really important for me because in the future I am planning to have a credit card,” she added. “The workshop prepared me to be more responsible with my money.”
A student who wanted to be called by her nickname, Q, was grateful that ACCU had taught her how to achieve her financial goals. She found the segment on student loans especially helpful. “I learned that if you are ever going to take out a student loan, you want to borrow only what you need,” she said.
Sprinkled throughout the workshop were monetary incentives like the weekly raffle, where one lucky student received $50 in cash. The final week included a bonus prize of $50. Amanda, who won the first and last raffles, used the cash for gas. The other winners, Joy and Eustolia, said they would save the money. In addition, everyone who attended all three sessions was eligible for a $100 deposit bonus to open a savings account.
Campus police officer Leroy Avington, a former foster youth and PCC alum, made a surprise appearance at the first session to encourage the students and tell them that they too could succeed as he did. When asked to share a few words, Officer Avington spoke about how such workshops transformed his life by teaching him practical skills. His brief speech inspired the students and brought tears to some eyes.
ACCU’s HR AVP Richard Mathews, who participated in the opening and closing sessions, said he was impressed by the character, resilience, and academic ambition of the foster youth. “I feel blessed to play a small role in their lives as they pursue their educational and professional goals,” he added.