Credit union branch on Clovis West campus teaching students financial literacy

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Students in Clovis Unified are learning about taxes, interest rates, deposits, and withdrawals.

They're working with cash and learning about finances through a program with our "Children First" sponsor, Educational Employees Credit Union (EECU). Action News anchor Warren Armstrong has the story.

19 Year old Ashley Criesi works part-time as a teller at Educational Employees Credit Union.

"It's changed my life for the better and I absolutely love it, I love what I do."

She's a graduate of Clovis Unified's Career Technical Education pathway called Business Financial Services, a partnership between EECU and the District.

RELATED: ABC 30 half-hour special focuses on transition to adulthood

"That experience is so valuable because it puts students in the work world with adults and it helps them see what their life is like moving forward and it shows them what they'll need to be successful moving forward," said Clovis West Learning Director Karen Boone.

25 students volunteer at EECU's full-service branch on the Clovis West High School campus. They help members with deposits, withdrawals, and other money matters.

"They are beginning to be young professionals, and not only that they're GPA's have increased, and it just goes to show you how powerful it can be when someone's given the opportunity to apply what they are learning," said EECU Branch Manager Christy Machado.

Jordan Herndon says working as a teller is boosting his confidence and he's learned how to make smart financial decisions.

"You gotta realize that you're the one working for that money, so if you're going to spend a hundred dollars on something at night, have fun working ten hours to make it back."

The pathway also includes classroom sessions on financial literacy.

"We just want them to be financially educated," said Finance Teacher Joey Martinez. "No matter what their career path is, whether they become a nurse or a lawyer, or they work in the financial realm, they're all going to earn, spend, borrow, and invest money, they're all going to do that."

According to the Council for Economic Education, only 17 states require high school students to take a course in personal finance, California is not among them.

"18 to 30 is that pivotal time in their life where most people make a decision where they get themselves into student loan debt, or massive credit card debt, or a home loan, or a car loan that they end up paying off for a good portion of their life," said Martinez. "So they need to have that information so they don't put themselves where they're paying interest to somebody else for decades."

This partnership is creating a new generation of money smart students armed with lessons that can last a lifetime.

"This year I was able to file my own taxes, and (I learned) how to safely invest, as well as smartly borrow," said Clovis West Senior Tyler Smith.

The program is also perhaps influencing career choices. Ashley is now pursuing her business degree.

"What I've learned here I'm going to apply to my life, like, I'm not going to spend more than I make."

ABC30 thanks its partners below for putting Children First in the Central Valley.

Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.