In the News

Financial Literacy Program Free for Area Classrooms

Local students are getting a free education in how to manage their money, according to a press release.

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GCS Credit Union is working with Banzai, a national award-winning financial literacy program, to make curriculum available to Collinsville, Granite City and Edwardsville city schools completely free.

GCS partnered with Banzai in April 2012, making Banzai available to more than 25 local schools. This generous sponsorship has equipped students with the life skills they need to be financially responsible.

“Banzai is a web-based financial literacy program. Kids get their own accounts and they work through assignments that are based on real life,” Morgan Vandagriff, co-founder of Banzai, said. “But because GCS Credit Union is sponsoring it, local schools get it for free. More than ever, it’s important that kids develop sound financial skills to prepare them for the real world and GCS Credit Union realizes that and they’re doing something about it.”

Banzai is an interactive, online program supplemented by printed workbooks which aligns with state curriculum requirements for personal finance education. It has become the largest program of its kind, servicing more than 14,000 teachers in all 50 states.

Banzai is versatile and can be used in any classroom. Collinsville High School teacher Chris Collins uses the program in his special education class.

“I feel this is a real start on working toward the common core,” Collins said. “As a special education teacher, the program offers a variety of ways to allow me to enhance ideas and accommodate or modify the material.”

GCS Credit Union has offered time, money, industry experience and a variety of credit union resources to help Collinsville, Granite City and Edwardsville city schools teach personal finance in the classroom. Students using the program are exposed to real-life scenarios where they learn to pay bills and balance a budget — but it’s not always easy. Students must learn to manage unexpected expenses such as parking tickets, interest charges and overdraft fees. The educational program also introduces students to auto loans, bank statements, entertainment costs, savings and more.

“Too often, students get out of school and they just aren’t ready for the financial roller coasters life can give us,” Vandagriff said. “Banzai teaches students to navigate those twists and turns and come out on top. We’re excited to work with GCS Credit Union to improve financial literacy in Collinsville, Granite City and Edwardsville.”

Teachers interested in using the Banzai program can visit or call 888-8-BANZAI.

Banzai interactive courses are fun and FREE. Go ahead.