Students partner with credit union to gain financial literacy

Students at Three Rivers Charter School are wrapping up a hands-on, in-depth study of financial literacy.

In a partnership between the school and Clackamas Federal Credit Union, a group of 46 fourth- and fifth-graders received a loan from CFCU and used the funds to make and sell craft items to benefit selected charities.

Representatives from the credit union kicked off the students’ unit of study with a visit to the school on April 29 and a presentation that covered the history of currency and trade. Students discussed concepts like the tangible value of goods and services versus the perceived value and received an overview of personal finance, nonprofit versus for-profit enterprises, budgeting and loans.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: VERY UYETAKE - Carey Stell models one of the bracelets the class made to sell.Armed with the basics of financial literacy, the students worked with teachers, including Bijou McKillip and Mackenzie Carocci, to launch their own enterprise. After discussing their options, the students chose two products, woven bracelets and bottle cap magnets, to make and sell to benefit three charitable organizations.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: VERY UYETAKE - Emma Fulmer works on a bottle cap design.Teachers guided the students to consider a three-tiered approach to their donations, describing circles of giving that start close to home, expand to the local community and then address worldwide need.

“Fourth- and fifth-graders got to vote on what kinds of organizations we had interest in,” fifth-grader Emma Fulmer said, “and Ms. Carocci picked them based on our interests.”

The organizations selected were a Three Rivers scholarship fund called the Kids First campaign, Doernbecher Hospital and Just a Drop, an international organization working to provide clean, safe drinking water.

“Once we get all the money collected, we’re going to split it evenly among all the causes,” fifth-grader Maggie Metcalf said.

Next, students started making products to sell. Discussing the bracelets that she and her classmates made, Cecelia Gilburne, a fifth-grader, said, “At first, they were kind of hard to make. With quality control, the production takes a little longer. If the string is too short, you have to take it apart.”

If the bracelet production had taken a little longer than expected, students found the bottle cap magnets easier to make.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: VERY UYETAKE - Jill Pellico helps Ahna Schaper pick out some artwork for bottle caps. “One time, we made 330 in one day,” said Natalie Cha, a fifth-grader.

With the hard work of production well advanced, students hit the streets in their neighborhoods to start selling their products, priced at $5 each.

“From one street in my neighborhood, I earned $40,” said fourth-grader Lorelei Cunningham.

Fifth-grader Hayley Lewis was both a bracelet-maker and a buyer.

“I bought one for my mom for Mother’s Day,” she said, “and she loved it.”

When the students gathered on the afternoon of May 15 to chart their sales progress on a giant thermometer, the mood was jubilant. After the first official day of sales, the students had already earned $400 — from just nine students. by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: VERY UYETAKE - Victor Xia fills in the class chart indicating $400 in sales for far.

At press time, McKillip reported strong continuing sales. “We are up to $500 in sales and still collecting,” she said “The project is going incredibly well and the students still have the excitement and energy.”

CFCU executives are headed back to the school on June 11 to wrap up the project. Before receiving the students’ final report, however, CFCU clearly considered the joint venture a success.

“Clackamas is passionate about financial literacy and seeks opportunities in our local community to educate young people,” said Business Development Specialist Levi Manselle. “We developed an educational program that encourages students to identify how they can achieve financial success. The students at Three Rivers Charter School quickly grasped the importance of money management, and it was a pleasure working with them and the educators.”

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