1st Bank Yuma (1BY) created a financial literacy program during the 2011-2012 school year in partnership with EVERFI.COM a leading technology company that focuses on web-based educational instruction. The first year only 368 students utilized the web-based teaching tool. Today – just over a decade later, we are averaging 3,000 students a year. In order to reach more students and community members, we modified our financial literacy outreach five years ago and renamed it “Kinder to College Financial Initiative.” Our overall goal is simple; we want to educate not just a generation, rather – we want to educate generations of students and community members in our market communities of Yuma, AZ, and Nogales, AZ. Since the inception of the initiative, our bank board and CEO have remained steadfast in supporting and growing our financial literacy outreach.
The initiative has five distinct components.
1) The K-8 student portion focuses on bank field trips teaching basic economic principles like “Supply vs. Demand” with quizzes for monetary rewards at the end of the visit.
2) Our main outreach is our high school outreach, which utilizes Everfi’s revolutionary web-based interactive financial literacy instruction combined with banker lectures.
3) The collegiate component focuses on the importance of credit scores for personal and professional success with our local community college business students.
4) For our forth component – we hold financial education lectures for the elderly, non-profits and church groups on real life subject matters like Credit Scores, Identity Theft, Dealing with Banks and How to Safeguard Their Personal Information.
5) Our final component focuses on donations to local scholarship efforts and educational choice for students. Our support as the title sponsor for the Yuma University of Arizona Alumni Scholarship Golf Fundraising Tournament has helped the Yuma Alumni Chapter award over 1.4 million dollars in scholarships for local students to attend the University of Arizona since the inception of the tournament. The bank also collaborated with the non-profit Arizona Leadership Foundation (ALF), which matches our annual tax donation. With the matching funds from ALF, 1st Bank Yuma was able to distribute $800,000 to local schools (School Year 2021-22) so parents and the schools had additional scholarship fund opportunities for school choice.
Our initiative fills the gap between high school and the real world, allowing students to navigate an increasingly complex financial world. The seven modules map the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy National Standards. After completing the Everfi curriculum, students increased their scores on average between 85-95% on post-curriculum assessment test.
The main high school outreach has evolved into a hybrid of Everfi’s technology combined with organic banker lectures and lessons. The younger K-8 students love visiting the bank on field trips and learn how community banks operate, the different jobs in banking and basic economic principles. Our community members and non-profits enjoy our timely and informative lectures on Identity Theft and Credit Scores.
Wayne Gale, 1st Bank Yuma’s President/CEO shared “The bank made a substantial commitment to our Financial Literacy outreach over a decade ago and our program continues to grow and thrive – with the Everfi web- based partnership we were able to continue to educate students even through the recent pandemic. The banks continued and consistent support has definitely strengthened our brand and we are known as the (Go To) source for financial literacy in our service markets. There is no better feeling than having customers, shareholders, educators and community members notice this fact and express their appreciation for our efforts in increasing financial literacy knowledge to all ages.”
To date, our initiative has educated over 22,500 students and community members – 21,000 HS students and over 1,500 students and adults in our other outreaches, field trips for K-8 schools, college credit forums and community outreaches at churches and non-profits, combined with fraud seminars with the Yuma Police Department.
1BY has 74 employees and averages over 500 hours of donated outreach service per year. Our Executive team has participated in the college credit forums; branch managers and our community relations officer handle the other three components. The tellers and other staff are particularly helpful on the bank field trips. 1BY has one overriding vision – to strengthen our communities through financial literacy and educate coming generations. Our outreach reflects a 1963 quote attributed to John F. Kennedy “A rising tide lifts all boats” – the macro-economic theory that improvements in the general economy (in our case financial literacy knowledge) – will benefit all participants in that economy.