“Commercial Bank, a local Harrogate icon, was named one of the top 18 extraordinary banks in the United States by the Institute for Extraordinary Banking®. "
At Commercial Bank, we realize that today’s young people are facing challenges not faced by other generations as technology has created a global economy so interconnected that events in a country thousands of miles away can impact a family in Appalachia. The great recession has left us a job market and economy that are still rebounding, while the cost of college and living are higher than ever. It is our goal to provide our children with principles of money management; which includes how to use money wisely, how to save money, and how to make their money work for them so they will become productive, independent, and fulfilled adults.
According to the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, "Financial illiteracy is not an issue unique to any one population. It affects everyone: men and women, young and old, across all racial and socioeconomic lines. No longer can we stand by and ignore this problem. The economic future of the United States depends on it."
Commercial Bank is committed to providing our youth with better tools to manage money and plan for their future. According to Bank President, Adam Robertson, “We at Commercial Bank feel so strongly about the fiscal demands on our youth that we have taken a step past our regulatory commitments and created Smart Cents, a youth financial literacy program to stem this growing tide of financial misunderstanding and mismanagement.”
Smart Cents is geared to educate students, pre-k through eighth grades, on the importance of setting financial goals, managing money, planning and preparing for the future, understanding the difference in debit versus credit, ways to invest and donate, careers in the financial industry and so much more.
The primary focus of the Smart Cents program is financial literacy and the curriculum offerings brought into each classroom. Bank representatives volunteer to speak in classrooms once a month or as required by the teachers in participating schools. All age level and grade appropriate instruction focuses on skills that will aid in their financial development while reinforcing necessary life skills such as goal setting, planning, etc.
In addition to classroom activities and lectures, Smart Cents provides hands-on experience with the lessons that they are being taught in the financial literacy courses. Through Smart Cents, students are afforded the opportunity to open savings accounts at their school and make deposits regularly when a representative of Commercial Bank visits.
The students can open the account with as little as $1, earn interest, and receive statements in the mail. The student learns money management skills from exposure to real-life banking procedures which, as research shows, actually improves the chances they will go to college. In the Smart Cents checking program, high school upperclassmen may open a checking account in a similar fashion and make deposits to the Commercial Bank representative who visits the school regularly.
We are especially excited that the FDIC has named Commercial Bank's Smart Cents Program as a Youth Savings Pilot Program! The FDIC website explains that youth savings programs are important because they can "promote economic inclusion for entire families." Likewise, a report issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury found that having a bank account both intensified the effect of financial education instruction for students, and in schools where there was a branch of a federally insured financial institution, students had more positive attitudes towards banks and were more likely to have a bank account.
Crystal Flanagan with a class of 5th grade students participating in the Smart Cents program.