HawaiiUSA Federal Credit Union has opened two new credit unions operated by students at Campbell High School, and Pearl City High School. The credit union opened student-operated Credit Unions at Waianae Intermediate School in Maui and Waianae Senior High School at the start of 2023.
HawaiiUSA's SOCU program, which is a student-operated financial cooperative, was first introduced in 1991 by Waipahu high school. HawaiiUSA Financial Wellness manager Bryan Yucoco says that students open real accounts and make simple transactions on campus for HawaiiUSA FCU Members. This promotes financial literacy and workforce development.
PBN visited Yucoco recently to learn more about this program.
Would you please tell me more about the student-operated credit cooperatives that HawaiiUSA has recently opened? The idea behind our first student-operated Credit Union was to provide students with an opportunity to experience working in a financial establishment. They opened accounts, took deposits, and worked with transactions. The kids learned about customer service and how to use our systems. They also got some on-the job training. The kids get some skills so that when they graduate it will be easier for them to take on a new role.
In the past 30 years, many of our employees have come from student-operated credit cooperatives, namely Waipahu high school. I believe we currently have seven people who are only employed at HawaiiUSA, but were hired straight out of high school or college. This was done through the student-operated Credit Union. Then, a few years ago, during the pandemic we transitioned. We redesigned the credit union to reflect what we wanted to achieve as an organization. That was financial education and financial wellness. We trained and mentored students in financial education and had "financial wellbeing advocates". When we thought "the kids can relate and convey the message much deeper," we opened the student-operated Credit Unions.
Does the presence of student-operated credit cooperatives assist HawaiiUSA FCU with its hiring or staffing challenges? It has in the past, but I know that we have changed our course and are now looking for college graduates. Realistically, many of these people go to college. Some of our students take part in an internship program we offer, which gives them valuable insight. One of the interns I worked with last year, was an intern who graduated and is still working part-time with us while she attends school full-time. This is an option when it comes to workforce development. Once they graduate, the hope is that they have already been trained in that field or received education about it, making their transition into that field easier.
What kind of skills are taught by these SOCUs? We teach communication skills, body-language, customer service and teamwork. With that, comes greater confidence. It's the confidence I see in children. They feel better prepared to become adults. They don't worry about money because they know what it is, and what to do with it. They know how to budget, live within their means, pay themselves first, and save money.