March 15, 2012
A financial literacy initiative developed by Horizon Credit Union in Spokane, Wash., has students digging for gold in their middle school hallways and classrooms.
In the Piggy Hunt, the treasure chest is a blue piggy bank hidden somewhere in the school, and the treasure is a $500 prize, with $250 going to the winning student and $250 being donated to the charity of his or her choice. But rather than following a dotted line to a big red ‘X,’ treasure seekers in the Piggy Hunt earn new clues by completing exercises tied to ‘Biz Kid$,’ a credit-union funded public television program that teaches youth financial literacy.
Josh Allison, Horizon’s relationship development manager, developed the program and explained the nuts and bolts.
“You take a blue piggy bank, you hide the piggy bank, and then every week, the pig leaves clues to where he’s hidden,” Allison said. “The clues lead to teachers, and the teachers are waiting there with ‘Biz Kid$’ financial literacy worksheets and assignments to complete. If they complete these assignments, they’re then given the next clue from the piggy in advance of other students, which allows them to keep hunting.”
Horizon partnered with North Pines Middle School in Spokane to pilot the program and has since expanded it to include two additional schools: Sandpoint Charter School in Sandpoint, Idaho, and Chief Moses Middle School in Moses Lake, Wash.
But the program has quickly spread well beyond the scope of Horizon’s field of membership, as ‘Biz Kid$’ learned about the program and now has plans to integrate it into its own curriculum this spring.
“I think what’s exciting about it is that ‘Biz Kid$’ looked at the program, saw how we implemented their curriculum, and liked it enough to rebrand it and tailor it for use nationwide by other credit unions,” Allison said. “We just used their branded version in Moses Lake successfully, and they plan to release it for national promotion in late April.”
“It gave [‘Biz Kid$’] a unique opportunity to leverage [their curriculum] as they weren’t able to before,” Allison continued, “and they had a program to take into schools that was fun and student-driven as well. I think that’s where the appeal was.”
B.J. Mullin, a sixth-grader at Chief Moses who recently won the school’s Piggy Hunt when he found the blue piggy bank taped underneath an easy chair in the library, chose to donate his $250 to Youth Outdoors Unlimited, a central Washington-based nonprofit that takes children with life-threatening illnesses on outdoor hunting and fishing adventures.
Allison explained that the “give-back component” of the final prize was almost as significant as the financial literacy piece—and was equally representative of the values Horizon is working to embody in the community.
“That has credit union philosophy written all over it as well,” he said.
In addition to continuing to expand the Piggy Hunt program, Allison said that Horizon’s other primary financial literacy focus is a field trip program for students. Students visit Horizon branches four times through the course of the program, interacting with staff and learning about money management and finances through hands-on activities.
“We bring students into the credit union,” Allison said, “so instead of going into the classroom as the traditional approach is to credit union education, we’ve actually switched it and said, ‘Let’s bring them into our environment.’”
For More Information…
Allison will be a featured presenter at two upcoming Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) conferences, including the Marketers’ Conference May 9-10 in Seattle. This advanced conference exclusively targeted at communications, public relations, design and marketing professionals offers two days of high-level discussion aimed at more effective targeting of the consumers credit unions need to connect with.
Allison will also present a workshop at the upcoming Employees’ Conference entitled “Communicating Our Purpose with Passion,” in which attendees will learn to share the powerful values behind the credit union movement and turn members into advocates.
The Employees’ Conference is a highly interactive program that creates a dynamic forum for networking and sharing successful member service concepts between credit unions. Significant for anyone with member contact, the conference will help attendees develop the skills, knowledge and aptitude to provide exceptional service through greater understanding of credit union goals and philosophy.
Questions? Contact Training Programs Coordinator Yuri Jung: 206.340.4817, firstname.lastname@example.org.