Des Moines Organizations Give Young Students a Kickstart to Financial Future

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A penny saved is a penny earned.  "You have to save. If you don't save, you have no money left," explained Chance Sutton, an eighth grade student at Meredith Middle School.

Metro organizations Urban Dreams, Hip Hope and Community Choice Credit Union spent Saturday opening savings accounts with middle school kids like Chance from Des Moines.  "Helping out and opening accounts for these young kids and getting them started on their financial path," said Mary O'Brien from Community Choice Credit Union.

Twenty-nine kids signed up for the event at the 700 Lyon Street location, which stemmed from Hip-Hope's Young Men of Color Conference in the fall.  "The people we serve are continually underbanked. We are talking about financial gaps that are certain barriers to things like savings accounts and checking accounts which are necessary and required in this day in age," said Urban Dreams Executive Director Izaah Knox.

Chance and the others were told the organizations would also start them off with $100 to save.  It's an amount that has quickly put a plan in motion.  "By the time I have enough, maybe college," said Chance.  College may seem like a lifetime from now, but it's already put him ahead of the curve.  "A lot of family members don't save their money and I wanted to start that trend. So I think this is a good opportunity for me," Chance said.

Bankers also took time to answer questions and preach important lessons on banking.  Mary said, "Show them online banking, the importance of using a debit card and the importance of saving right away. This is a big step for them."

The 29 kids knew ahead of time they'd be starting their savings accounts with $100, but the deal was sweetened when an anonymous donor stepped in to double it, providing each with $200 for the nest egg as they walked up to the teller.

Knox said, "When I got that call this morning and somebody wanted to match that and to tell them now it's $200, the smiles on the kids' faces were like oh my goodness that is insane," Knox said.

It's a smile that Chance believes can lead to a bright future, not just for him but the Des Moines community.  Chance said, "It's important because if we start this early with a young group, we can keep it going and have our children do it and their children do it and keep it going and have the money in the same community."

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