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Gesa Credit Union opened the first local high school credit union branch at Richland High School in 2000. In 2002 a Gesa Hanford High School branch opened, followed in the spring of 2005 with a Pasco High School branch.
In the first few years, Gesa's Marketing and Accounting departments worked closely with these cooperative credit unions with training and operational guidance. In 2007, Gesa hired an Education Specialist who works as a liaison with the schools and the community on youth outreach. This coordinator is also a member of Richland, Kennewick and Pasco’s Career and Technical Advisory Boards.
Students are hand-selected for each branch. Depending on the high school's curriculum, the branch is operated through the Accounting program or the Financial Services program. Teachers from each school guide the students in class throughout the year. They educate and train students to work in a professional manner and guide them in learning about financial services. The credit unions are open during the lunch hours for student and staff use.
Products and Services at the Branches
The high school branches offer teller services with savings and checking accounts. Students are provided materials about all Gesa's products and services to help answer any questions they receive. In addition, Gesa's intranet is also an available educational resource for the branch staff.
Account Confidentiality Comes First
The students are instructed on how to keep all records and transactions private and confidential. Gesa provides a High School training kick-off event before the programs start in the fall to help the students understand Gesa's policies and standards. Gesa’s Marketing and Human Resources departments train the students on the importance of confidentiality and compliance when advertising their credit union.
Student Run, Student Operated
Each branch is student-run and operated. Students are encouraged to create their own promotions and come up with creative initiatives. For example, at Richland High School, students coordinated an ID Theft program to educate students about this subject. Monthly topics were then introduced, such as “Getting Ready for College.” Participation and involvement of the students is key to the success of these high school branches.
More High School Credit Unions on the Horizon
Gesa is focused on the development and success of our current branches. We are proud to now have seven student-run credit unions in the Tri Cities. Our current branches include Pasco High School, Richland High School, Hanford High School, Chiawana High School, Kamiakin High School, Southridge High School and Kennewick High School. The high school outreach program is in perfect alignment with Gesa's mission to bring financial education to youth and underserved markets.