First Metro Bank marked the fifth anniversary of the innovative student-operated locations within Florence and Muscle Shoals High Schools on August 19, 2017. First Metro Bank partnered with these schools in 2012 to create and implement in-school banks which serve students, faculty, staff, and administrators each school day. Since that time, the First Metro Bank financial literacy outreach program, which includes the Falcon and Trojan Branches, has become a nationally-recognized model.
“Our program was created to keep financial literacy at the forefront of the student learning experience,” said Rodney Howard, First Metro Bank President and CEO. “Helping students understand the principles of personal financial literacy prior to graduation is our main objective. By helping schools provide this information, we hope to ensure local students become financially-stable, knowledgeable adults.”
First Metro Bank’s groundbreaking program was highlighted recently by the FDIC in their publication, Linking Youth Savings with Financial Education: Lessons from the FDIC Pilot. Through their partnership with the FDIC, First Metro Bank has worked with banks across the nation to implement similar student-operated branches and financial literacy programs. The FDIC invited First Metro Bank Education and Training Director, Alana Parker, to Los Angeles, California and Washington, D.C. to present the Bank’s financial literacy outreach program, processes, and success stories. Alana shared the Bank’s outreach program with regulatory agencies, other financial institutions, and community outreach groups. First Metro Bank continues to collaborate with the FDIC through the Youth Banking Network which provides the opportunity for banks to learn from one another and from FDIC staff.
The First Metro Bank in-school branches offer traditional banking services performed by trained student tellers who earn grades for their participation. Accounts are opened, deposits and withdrawals are processed, checks are cashed, and, most importantly, students are educated on the importance of personal financial literacy. Student tellers must meet certain criteria and are selected through an application and interview process. Designated teachers from each school supervise the students and provide instruction on topics ranging from customer service skills to transactional procedures.
“Over the last five years, the presence of the Trojan Branch has dramatically changed the conversation students are having about money and finances. Students are now asking questions about interest rates and college expenses while striving to find new ways to cut expenses and save for their future,” said Kimberly Vaughn, Muscle Shoals High School Teacher. “The opportunity to learn real-world, applicable banking lessons while still in school is impacting students’ lives in positive, lasting ways.”
“By providing students with the opportunity to develop skills required for student-teller positions, they are joining the workforce with real-world experience, making them more attractive to potential employers,” said Christy Lynn-Armstrong, Florence High School Teacher. “Having the Falcon Branch on campus allows us to meet the goal of ensuring students are college or career ready upon graduation in exciting and revolutionary ways.”
Since 2012, over forty students have served as Falcon and Trojan Tellers. Upon graduation from high school, many former student tellers choose to work toward the completion of undergraduate degrees: several of them selecting degree fields with a concentration on banking or financial services.
“We remain thankful to Florence High School, the FHS Career and Technical Education Department, Muscle Shoals High School, and the MSHS Career Academy for their continued partnership and commitment to financial literacy education,” said Rodney Howard. “We are eager to continue working with these schools for many years as we continue our mission of providing financial literacy to young people in our area,” he continued.