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Students Make a Change by Saving Change

Silver State Schools Credit Union partners with GALS to teach the importance of financial literacy

Article by Izzy Haring

Photography by Mikel Conrad and GALS

Originally published in Red Rock Lifestyle

Silver State Schools Credit Union partners with GALS to teach the importance of financial literacy

Silver State Schools Credit Union knows the best way to become a financially secure adult is to start with a savings account. Celebrating their 70th anniversary this year, Silver State Schools Credit Union (SSSCU) is Southern Nevada’s premier financial cooperative - owned by its members - providing quality banking alternatives for individuals, families, and businesses.

Unlike other financial institutions, SSSCU members are more than just customers. There are some similarities between credit unions and banks as far as the financial products and services provided. Unlike Banks that return their profits back to their shareholders, credit unions like SSSCU, are owned by their members and as such they share in the many benefits that the credit union offers like lower loan interest rates and fees, higher savings dividends, and receiving substantial services that are offered at no cost to members. With 10 locations throughout the Las Vegas Valley, SSSCU exists solely to provide members with affordable and convenient financial services.

SSSCU offers a wide range of financial products and resources, such as banking, borrowing, investing, insurance, and financial planning. But it is not just its members that SSSCU has a positive impact on. It has a long-standing legacy of giving back to the community it serves, with a strong focus on organizations that improve and strengthen Las Vegas neighborhoods. One focus, in particular, is SSSCU’s dedication to financial literacy, teaching students about saving money and understanding how to make smart financial decisions.

“It’s never too early to learn the importance of saving money,” says Scott Arkills, President and CEO of SSSCU. This past spring, Arkills partnered with the Girls Athletic Leadership School (GALS) in Las Vegas. A charter and an all-girls middle school, GALS is open to girls in grades six through eight and provides a comprehensive education where academic excellence and physical and emotional well-being take center stage.

Known for their employee-driven community involvement and dedication to financial education, Arkills brought one of SSSCU’s unique financial literacy programs “The Importance of Savings” to the students at GALS. Tailored to young teens, this one-of-a-kind financial program was held at GALS on April 22, 2021 - coinciding with the national “Teach Your Children to Save Day.”

“Developed in 1972 by a professor at Stanford University, the classic ‘marshmallow test’ is just as popular with kids and teens today as it was almost 50 years ago,” said Arkills. Led by psychologist Walter Mischel, the marshmallow test was a study on delayed gratification where a child was offered a choice between receiving an immediate small reward (one marshmallow) or a larger reward (two marshmallows) if they waited for a period of time.

Arkills utilized the concept behind the marshmallow test to inspire and teach the students at GALS the concept and significance behind a compound interest-earning savings account. “This classic experiment is ideal for teaching young people why compound interest is important along with key financial concepts such as saving, budgeting, and setting goals,” said Arkills. “You start by putting money from an allowance or a job into three categories. Short-term spending money for small items like a movie ticket; Savings for more costly items like a bike; And long-term savings for something like a car,” he explained.

Using their skilled and professional knowledge, SSSCU and Arkills created a fun and interactive lesson on the value of money that was a big hit with the students at GALS. SSSCU not only discussed the importance of saving money, smart spending habits, and financial goal setting, but also helped the students at GALS by offering each student a $25 certificate to open a savings account with SSSCU. Through this gift, students can learn firsthand how to monitor their savings.

“For teenagers, opening an interest-earning savings account helps them reflect on how their money is protected in a financial institution,” said Arkills. “The goal of the program and learning about savings is to work together to learn how to avoid debt and set aside money for the future when you may need it most.”

SSSCU’s program on teaching youth the importance of savings is perfectly in line with the GALS approach to learning. Both strive for excellence as they foster the future leaders of the Las Vegas community.

“SSSCU’s visit sparked an energy and excitement in our students, helping them see the importance of volunteer work now to build valuable work skills that will lead to paid internships,” said GALS Executive Director Jennifer McCloskey. “Our students now understand that by saving just 10 percent of their earnings today, that compounded interest over time will be very valuable to their futures."

Part of a network of all-girls schools in Denver and Los Angeles, McCloskey is the driving force behind GALS in Las Vegas. After a 15-year career as a federal executive, McCloskey was inspired to bring the collaborative all-girls educational approach to the valley, where teachers incorporate project-based learning and interdisciplinary connections into daily lessons.

Originally located at the Gaughan Boys & Girls Club of Southern Nevada on the UNLV campus, GALS is set to open the doors to their brand-new school located at 4220 South Maryland Parkway across from UNLV this fall of 2021.

SSSCU will continue to support schools around the Valley to help educate students about the importance of financial literacy, and subjects such as saving money and making smart financial decisions that will positively impact their future.

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