Jan. 22, 2004 – Children at E. Benjamin Oliver Elementary School on St. Thomas will start the day on Friday with an assembly where they'll get information they can bank on.
Representatives of FirstBank will be there to talk about what "saving" is, why it's important, what a "savings account" is and how to use it for "smart money management."
And then will come the fun part: They'll have a mini-automated teller machine set up for youngsters to open a FirstBank passbook savings account then and there with a minimum $5 deposit.
The program, called "Students First," is aimed at helping youngsters learn "the basics of money management" and gain "practical experience and discipline in how to save," according to Karen Sprauve, a member of the bank's Community Reinvestment team. The larger goal, she adds, is for the children to develop the skills needed "to become wise consumers and build individual wealth."
In coming weeks and months, FirstBank staff will be visiting all of the schools in the territory to present information and materials and then give the students an opportunity to open a savings account without having to go to the bank. As an incentive, the bank will award gift certificates for educational materials to schools whose participation reaches a certain level and savings bonds to students who accumulate the most savings.
"The Students First program was created by FirstBank's staff as a part of a continued effort to educate the public about financial issues and give back to the community," a release from the bank stated. It's basically the brainchild of Carmen Holt, a commercial loan officer, who recalled the impact such a program had on her when she was a primary school pupil.
"A local bank in my hometown came to our school and opened savings accounts for the students," she relates. "I kept that account well into my adulthood, and it is what started my interest in banking."
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