Many schools across the country are experimenting with student-run banks in their buildings that provide a hands-on way for young people to learn about taking control of their money and financial future. Next year, students at One City Schools will be able to bank at their school as Summit Credit Union has announced that they will open a student-run branch for students, families, employees, and other members of the One City Schools community at the new Pleasant T. Rowland Leadership Campus in Monona.
Summit Credit Union will contribute $75,000 toward building a branch at One City, located at 1707 W. Broadway Street, and will “work with scholars to ensure that each and every one of them are financially literate upon graduation,” according to a press release from the organization.
Each scholar will open a savings account and a stock account, says Kaleem Caire, One City Schools Founder and CEO and that early next year, the students will get trained to work the bank which he says should be up and running after winter break.
“It’ll be a student-run branch of Summit Credit Union. People can make deposits and get money out and things like that,” Caire tells Madison365. “Our kids will learn finance, and banking and we’re also going to open bank accounts for all of our kids. So they’ll all have savings accounts.”
Caire says that they will deposit money into those accounts every year.
“We want our kids to learn how to manage a bank account. We’re going to do financial education with our students,” he says. “They’re gonna do financial education with our students and also get involved with our math program. So it’s going to be great.”
Caire says that the credit union is already being built out within the school.
“We are excited to add to One City’s impact through a student-run Summit Credit Union branch. Financial wellness is a foundational and transformational practice at Summit Credit Union, and we know it’s best to start early in life to learn it,” said Kim Sponem, CEO and president of Summit Credit Union, in a statement. “One City, with its emphasis on preparing students of color for college, is the perfect place for companies in the area to support this important work and build a diverse future workforce in Dane County.”
Did Caire learn about that finance when he was a young man growing up on Madison’s south side?
“Heck, no! I’m only brave enough now to tell people that I was a late bloomer when it comes to financial stuff. I didn’t invest. I was scared of the stock market. I just kept my money in the bank,” he says. “I didn’t know anything about finance. But I want our young people to have the financial knowledge they need to have at an early age.”
Understanding the importance of finance and investing are key components, he adds, of lessening the racial achievement gap.
“I tell people that one of the reasons why white people are so far ahead of so many of us is that their family members have passed down homes and wealth for two or three or more generations now,” Caire says. “There’s equity and wealth built up into that. They pass down things like life insurance policies – Black folks couldn’t get life insurance policies until late 60s, early 70s in most places.”
Beyond the disparities in inheritance, financial literacy was just not part of the Black culture, Caire adds.
“So we’re going to make it a part of the culture. Any kid that comes to One City is going to understand banking and finance,” he says. “We’re going to open a stock account for them, crypto presales and Bitcoin.”
One City’s goal is to eventually enroll children from age 2 through 12th grade. This fall, students in One City Elementary School (grades 5K-5th grade) and One City Preparatory Academy (grades 6, 9 and 10) will attend classes at the Rowland campus. Enrollment for the 6th, 9th, and 10th grades started on Monday.
“The first 2 hours, we had almost 40 applicants. For a new school, that’s really good,” Caire says. “We know that to fill up the 250 spots that we have, we’re likely going to be enrolling kids into the summer. Whereas elementary school has a lot of visibility now. We only have one fifth-grade space left. Otherwise, there’s a long waiting list.
To enroll in One City, a public school chartered by the University of Wisconsin System, a student only needs to reside in Wisconsin.
“Next year, when One City reaches its capacity of 6th, 9th and 10th graders, we will be serving over 600 students,” Caires says. “We started with 6 kids back in the day. From 6 to 600 since 2015. We are excited about the growth.”