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Since our founding in 1935, Arbor Financial Credit Union has evolved from meeting the financial needs of local educators to providing services to all types of families, businesses, and communities across the state of Michigan. Our organization was built by the hands of educators, and this has laid the foundation of the wholesome partnership we value and love with our local schools. As an institution, we are dedicated to helping not only our members, but all people who wish to become financially aware, confident, and successful.
According to Investment News, although being the world’s largest economy, the United States is ranked #14 when measuring the proportion of adults in the country who are financially literate. Thankfully, Arbor Financial offers financial education to local classrooms and students.
Newly created and widely adopted is Arbor’s Financial Literacy Series. Designed specifically for high school seniors, this four-week series covers essential skills such as learning about budgeting and credit scores while helping the students build their financial skills. So far, this program has helped nearly 2,200 students in Southwest Michigan. In the final week of the series, students get to apply all their knowledge during a hands-on Financial Reality Fair workshop.
The purpose of the Financial Reality Fair is to educate young adults who are preparing to leave the house and head off to college or start their journey into adulthood. The fair gives them an opportunity to navigate their way through a day in the life of an adult with bills, children, and other expenses not common in young individuals. During the fair, students must pick a career path and make purchasing decisions regarding housing, transportation, clothing, food, and more, all while balancing a monthly budget. Ben Harman, Relationship Development Manager for Arbor Financial, says that, “the reason it is important to reach young people is because they have not had a chance to significantly damage their credit reports or bank accounts at this age; we educate them on good money behaviors.”
Since the fall semester of 2019, Arbor Financial has hosted a variety of educational teachings at nine schools with multiple classrooms, ranging from eighth to twelfth grade. Over the years, Arbor’s financial education has grown exponentially, with a partnership being formed with Western Michigan University. Since this partnership has begun, over 230 college students have been educated on specific topics, such as student loans, leases, credit, and other useful financial information specified and catered to their current life stage.
Additionally, in partnership with WMU’s Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness over 100 high school students recently attended a day-long event, Cash and Careers followed by Arbor’s Financial Reality Fair. Cash and Careers helps students make wise human capital investments regarding career selection, cost of college and budgeting. Following their career selection, each student had a customized worksheet with their job and salary to then navigate the reality fair and practice making budgeting decisions about real-world purchases. Todd Mora, program manager for the Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness at WMU, says that students were able to gain valuable financial knowledge through engaging activities.
Learn more about our recent financial educational series at East Kentwood High School.