By Charles Peckman
Banzai, a financial literacy program, is offered free of charge to 167 schools.
The program, sponsored by Collins Community Credit Union, educates students about money management. Nationwide, the program is funded similarly by banks and credit unions.
It aims to introduce students to financial problems usually experienced by adults.
In a statement to *The Daily Iowan*, Banzai public-relations manager Emily Inman said. “Our goal is for students to finish Banzai with a better understanding of the importance of budgeting, preparing for emergencies, and spending responsibly.”
Inman shared testimonials from students and teachers who have completed the program. Once finished, participants may provide feedback about their experience.
A student at Oelwein Middle School said, “Paying stuff in real life like bills, car payments, and rent is hard. [Thank you] for giving us the opportunity to do this. It would be really stressful without this.”
“I learned how to save money properly and how to work a bank account,” another Oelwein student said. “I think this will definitely help me in the future.”
Inman said that the program is used by 27,000 teachers nationwide.
The program is aimed at grades third to sixth and seventh to 12th, she said, and Banzai is working on a product for adults.
“We’ve had such an amazing reaction,” Inman said. “Because the program is sponsored by banks and credit unions, it comes at no cost to schools.”
“The program exposes students to situations usually experienced by adults — these situations will be encountered later in life, so we’re preparing students for that,” she said.
Bridget Adam, a business teacher at Cedar Falls Holmes Junior High has used the Banzai program in her classroom for the past two years.
The program is part of a consumer economics class that is offered to high-school freshmen as an elective.
In an email to *The Daily Iowan*, Adam said, “The Banzai program fits right in with our course objective of teaching our students how to make thoughtful and informed decisions in regards to their finances.”
“Making responsible financial decisions is an integral part of all our lives,” she said. “The Banzai program allows us to start teaching young adults this by providing them real-life scenarios where they can practice these skills hands-on through the online simulation.”
The Banzai program enhances Holmes’ curriculum, she said.
Karen Ultis, the community outreach director of Collins Community Credit Union, noted the importance of Banzai’s program in the community.
“Why are we using this program?” she said. “Because we’re Collins Community Credit Union. We’re excited about giving this to the community.”
Ultis said that between the online tools and workbooks provided by the program, it provides a comprehensive overview of financial literacy basics.
“We have funds dedicated to the Banzai program — the reason we partnered with it is because we strongly believe in financial literacy,” Ultis said.
One school even made a thank-you video for providing the financial services, she said.
“That kids respond so well to it shows [Collins] that our investment is paying off,” Ultis said.