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Innovative Peer-to-Peer Banking Program Trains Youth to Teach Classmates Fiscal Responsibility

(L to R) First Bank of Highland Park President and CEO Randy Green, St. James School Assistant Principal Mary Vitulli, St. James School students Kristin Bradford, Hattie Mikulenka and Vanessa Lara with St. James School Principal Deborah Dedeo at the reception honoring Jr. Banking Ambassador Program graduates. Photo courtesy of Audrey Suffrin Public Relations, LLC.

(L to R) First Bank of Highland Park President and CEO Randy Green, St. James School Assistant Principal Mary Vitulli, St. James School students Kristin Bradford, Hattie Mikulenka and Vanessa Lara with St. James School Principal Deborah Dedeo at the reception honoring Jr. Banking Ambassador Program graduates. Photo courtesy of Audrey Suffrin Public Relations, LLC.

CONTACT: Audrey Suffrin Public Relations, LLC
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Innovative Peer-to-Peer Banking Program Trains Youth to Teach Classmates Fiscal Responsibility

St. James’ Students Graduate First Bank of Highland Park’s
Inaugural “Jr. Banking Ambassador” Initiative

(Highland Park, IL) – Recognizing that many of tomorrow’s financial and business leaders are among today’s elementary school students, First Bank of Highland Park is proud to announce the graduates of their pilot “Junior Banking Ambassador” program. The program follows an interactive progressive-learning curriculum provided by the FDIC to educate young people about the basic fundamentals of finance. Members of FBHP’s professional staff trained five pre-selected 6th – 8th grade students at St. James School in Highwood. With the aid of the bank’s staff, the students became teachers themselves, and taught their peers what they learned.

The inaugural class of “Junior Bankers” – all members of St. James School’s student council – were Kristin Bradford, Giselle Fesalvo, James Klatt, Vanessa Lara and Hattie Mikulenka. Topics for the curriculum included: Bank On It – an overview of basic banking basics; Check It Out – understanding checking accounts; Setting Financial Goals – money management skills; and Pay Yourself First – identifying ways to save money and seeing how compound interest really adds up.

“We are committed to equipping young people with the tools and initiative needed to achieve financial success in the years to come,” says First Bank of Highland Park President/CEO Randy Green. “Our banking professionals teach and mentor the Junior Banking Ambassadors using the FDIC’s ‘Money Smart for Young Adults’ curriculum. Once they have mastered the basic understanding of the age-appropriate lessons in financial literacy, they are ready to teach it to their schoolmates, as well as their families and communities.”

The final project was an eye-opening experience for the “Junior Bankers.” They were assigned an income level, debt and expenses and had to purchase a home and car as they budgeted for daily living expenses and still live within their income level.

“Junior Banking class taught me how to wisely handle my money,” says Junior Banking Ambassador Giselle Fesalvo. “It showed me potential financial options that will guide me in my future financial situations.”

The “Junior Bankers” were guests of honor at a reception at FBHP to acknowledge their achievements as graduates of the program. Additionally, their participation was showcased in a month-long exhibition on the bank’s Ruth Fell Wander Community Art Wall to coincide with April’s designation as national “Teach Children To Save Month” which raises awareness about the importance banks and bankers play in helping young people develop life-long savings habits. Each “Junior Banker” was presented with a $50 check and was encouraged to purchase a $100 U.S. Savings Bond, which reinforces one of the lessons they learned about how to save money and make it grow.

First Bank of Highland Park also presented St. James School with a $500 donation to fund student council activities. Mary Vitulli, Assistant Principal St. James School didn’t know what to expect from participating in the program. “When First Bank of Highland Park came to me and asked if they could present their ‘Junior Banking Ambassador’ program at St. James School, I had no idea the depth and capacity of knowledge our junior high students would receive. Each child gained valuable information about banking and being financially responsible,” says Vitulli. “It has been a wonderful experience that has provided our children an excellent understanding of
monetary sensibility during their adolescent years and beyond.”

ABOUT THE RUTH FELL WANDER COMMUNITY ART WALL
The Ruth Fell Wander Community Art Wall was created in 2002 to showcase novice artwork from local schools and non-profit organizations, as well as to give visibility to the various resources and services offered to the community. Ruth Fell Wander served on First Bank of Highland Park’s Board of Directors from 1987 until 2002. She brought her endless energy, creativity and intelligence to the many committees that she participated on throughout her tenure. Ruth appreciated and loved the arts, and according to friends, her home was an expansive gallery of exciting artwork. Ruth passed away in 2002, and First Bank of Highland Park dedicated the public wall in memory of this outstanding woman who gave generously and thoughtfully to the community.

ABOUT FIRST BANK OF HIGHLAND PARK
First Bank of Highland Park has a commitment to serving and supporting the community. Independently owned and operated since 1955, the bank continues its dedication to personalized customer service. Banking hours at the Highland Park location at 1835 First Street are Monday – Friday, 8:30AM to 5:00PM and Saturday, 8:30AM to 1:00PM. Highland Park drive-thru hours are Monday – Friday, 7:30AM to 6:00PM and Saturday, 7:30AM to 2:00PM. Phone: 847-432-7800. Banking and drive-thru hours at the Northbrook Retail Banking Center at 633 Skokie Blvd. are Monday – Friday, 8:30AM to 5:00PM. Phone: 847-272-1300.
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For more photos please go to:
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