Park Side Credit Union offers financial courses for all ages

by Daniel McKay
Whitefish Pilot | April 22, 2020 1:00 AM

Money matters can be tough, especially for young adults.

Park Side Credit Union is hoping to remedy that through their partnership with Banzai, a financial literacy software program designed to teach real-life finance skills in a game-like setting.

Josh Kroll, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at Park Side, said offering the program aligns with the credit union’s mission.

“It’s one of our cooperative principles, education and training for the community,” Kroll said. “This was a turnkey solution, where it also made a lot of sense for a young, up-and-coming company. It really aligned with our brand. One of our core values is making banking fun.”

The program is designed for anyone ages 8 years old and up, and splits the curriculum into three age groups — junior, teen and plus — for age appropriate lessons and scenarios.

In the junior program, the specifics might be a venture like running a lemonade stand to save up for a new bike.

For teens, maybe the user is working their first job and saving for a car.

And for those in the plus classes, the scenarios turn closer to real life, including things like buying a first home or comparing life insurance plans.

Sarah Allen, with Banzai, said the program serves 60,000 teachers nationwide.

“Especially right now, Banzia is a wonderful resource to help communities and households. I’ve been able to go through the program myself and I was able to learn a lot. It’s beneficial to students, but [also] anyone who wants to work and learn from it.”

The classes are helpful for anyone, Kroll said, especially during a shaky economic situation like a recession.

“I think we can agree it’s more important than ever. We don’t know what the other side of this looks like. We’ve got to keep one foot in the present and prepare for the future,” he said. “We see the negative results, people coming to us in their early 20s saying, ‘I wish I would’ve known this when I was younger.’ Something like this [is important] in this day and age, not only in the COVID-19 circumstances but it’s a tough economic environment.”

Last year, Kroll said 38 local teachers across the valley signed up with the service through the credit union, reaching 1,140 students.

Kroll said he’s also taken the program on the road, bringing Banzai to Glacier High School’s business academy program last fall as well as to a fourth grade class at Stillwater Christian School.

The trick of Banzai is to make financial learning fun, like a game, Kroll said.

“It’s introducing all these basic financial principles to kids in a way that they hardly know they’re learning,” he said. “No kid wants to sit and watch a video or read an article that’s boring. They’re just not going to do it. The cool about this is it’s game-ified.”

While Parkside has been offering the classes for a couple years so far, Kroll wants to let people know the credit union is all-in on the program and ready for whoever wants it.

“It’s available to anybody, and it’s already paid for,” he said.

For more information, visit parksidecfu.com and teachbanzai.com.