The new branch opens a year after the successful launch of the Allen High School SMART Branch
LITTLE ELM, Texas, Jan. 18, 2021 – Credit Union of Texas (CUTX) has partnered with Little Elm High School to open its second full-service, student-run SMART Branch, located inside the high school. The new branch opens nearly a year after the successful launch of the Allen High School SMART Branch, the first-of-its-kind in Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW). Similar to the Allen SMART Branch, the Little Elm High School location, which opened Jan. 10, is staffed by junior and senior student employees along with one full-time CUTX employee and is available to all Little Elm High School students, faculty and staff during school hours.
CUTX developed the SMART Branch concept with the goal of providing students with the financial resources and education that empowers them to make sound financial decisions in the future.
Named for its focus on Servant leadership, Motivation, Active learning, Reasoning and Technology, the SMART Branch employs 21 junior and senior students who serve as bank managers, tellers, and marketers. Prior to the branch opening, each student employee completed three days of intensive banking, marketing, and financial literacy training. Each student employee also received hands-on training at the CUTX Frisco Branch during Little Elm High School’s winter break.
“After witnessing firsthand the positive impact of the Allen High School SMART Branch on students’ financial literacy skills, confidence and knowledge of potential future career paths, we knew it was the right time to partner with other schools and provide this same opportunity to as many students as possible,” said Eric Pointer, President and CEO for CUTX. “As a long-term community partner, Little Elm is a great fit for our next SMART Branch, and this opening is another step in growing our partnership and continuing to give back to the communities we serve by empowering students and providing essential skills like financial literacy.”
CUTX selected the student employees based on a variety of criteria, including their interest in or study of business or marketing, academic records, dedication to volunteerism, teacher recommendations, public speaking skills and interviews. All student employees receive a $1,000 scholarship for future education-related needs each year they are employed with the branch. All junior grade-level employees are eligible for re-hiring, although they must maintain their qualifications and interview again. CUTX will consider all Little Elm High School student employees as potential future hires for permanent careers at the credit union.
The Little Elm SMART Branch will provide the same services as all other CUTX branches, including checking and savings accounts and auto loans. Like the Allen SMART Branch, the Little Elm location offers a “Pay for Grades” initiative. The semi-annual program is designed to reward students who receive excellent report cards with deposit funds – $25 for each A and $5 for each B – into their CUTX accounts. To be eligible for Pay for Grades, students must submit their latest report and hold an active CUTX account.
Beginning this spring, CUTX will work with the school to launch its financial literacy program, where SMART Branch student employees will serve as financial literacy coaches to their fellow classmates. CUTX partnered with the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) to develop a modified version of its High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP). Under the instruction of a Little Elm teacher, who helps oversee the financial literacy center with CUTX, student employees will first learn the course material each week before presenting the various modules on topics including money management, loans, credit, investing and more. CUTX permanent employees will also regularly provide informative sessions on various topics, including home equity loans, refinancing and auto loans, to Little Elm High School faculty and staff.
“Offering our students experiences and opportunities to learn beyond the classroom has always been a point of pride for Little Elm High School,” said Dr. Elizabeth Priddy, principal of Little Elm High School. “By partnering with CUTX on the new SMART Branch, we are continuing this tradition and providing our students with a unique financial literacy program and real-world skills that will be utilized well into the future.”
For almost 100 years, Credit Union of Texas has provided financial services to members throughout North Texas. Living out its vision to deliver an unexpected experience, CUTX has grown to over $1.7 billion in assets. Membership is open to anyone who lives, works or worships, or is related to a member in Dallas, Denton, Collin, Rockwall or Upshur and its surrounding counties. In the last year, CUTX was recognized with the Communities Foundation of Texas “Be in Good Company” Seal of Excellence, voted the Best Credit Union in DFW by the readers of The Dallas Morning News and named the winner of the Torch Awards for Ethics, Better Business Bureau Serving North Central Texas. For more information about CUTX, visit www.cutx.org.