Five years ago representatives of small and large credit unions, teachers, financial literacy professionals, and Foundation staff gathered to develop and pilot a personal finance program for high schoolers.
The result combined the varied skills of each group, contained financial and human resource commitments, and produced an educational experience that felt more like a club than a class to the student participants. The Millionaire’s Club was born.
“We launched our first two pilot Clubs with modest goals,” recalled Foundation Executive Director Kyle Swisher. “And it wasn’t long before the students’ enthusiasm and the teachers’ and credit union sponsors’ engagement grew well beyond our initial expectations.
“One of the Clubs quickly ranked first regionally in the Stock Market Game™, another marched in their homecoming parade behind the Club banner we’d provided them. The students started working with their teachers to help deliver the curriculum themselves. They elected Club leaders, started entrepreneurial projects, and took top honors in the State Personal Finance Challenge™. Current members held ‘Pinning Ceremonies’ for new Club members using Club logo lapel pins we gave them…it was amazing.”
The Foundation knew they had found a winning formula for delivering financial literacy skills and set a goal of expanding to four schools, but Clubs sprouted up in eight sites, then sixteen as teachers talked with colleagues and more credit unions, realizing their modest commitment to the community offering, sponsored new Clubs.
“We’re now in forty-two schools and interest is growing faster than ever,” added Swisher.
“Clubs have gone on to claim consecutive National Personal Finance Challenge™ titles, their entrepreneurial projects are generating funds so as designed, Clubs are becoming financially self-sustaining. Students and teachers are calling to ask that Clubs be established in their schools.
“Credit unions as small as $20 million in assets are sponsoring multiple Clubs and bonding with these young students.”
Realizing that the Millionaire’s Club could be easily duplicated anywhere if credit unions and schools were given the tools, materials, and guidance needed to launch their own Millionaire’s Clubs, the Foundation Board approved an initiative to create a “one-stop-shop” for all things Millionaire’s Club – MillionairesClub.Org.
A short film was produced to help showcase the students, teachers, and credit union sponsors engaged in the Millionaire’s Club and is featured on the new site.
“This year, after we packaged the Millionaire’s Club for a national audience, we began spreading the word. Already we have Clubs developing in Georgia, Connecticut, Virginia, Michigan, and Ohio.”
“Once you sponsor your first Club, adding new Clubs is easy, and a great way to promote financial literacy while reaching out to your youth market,” says Janet Oursler, CEO of $21 million Howard County Education FCU. “We currently sponsor six Clubs and are always looking to add more.”
To learn more about the Millionaire’s Club financial education experience, visit MillionairesClub.Org