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The City Journals

Credit union wants to help students learn FUNDamental financial skills

May 01, 2021 10:57AM ● By Heather Lawrence

FUNDamentals curriculum meets the Utah Board of Education requirements, but aims to make learning fun with dozens of videos, lessons and real-life scenarios. (America First Credit Union)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

The Utah Board of Education requires high school students to take a financial literacy class to “gain the information and skills to implement a life-long plan for financial success.” To help with that requirement, America First Credit Union has developed a free curriculum for teachers. 

“FUNDamentals is a new program that we’re really excited about. We’re trying to get the word out to school districts and get the content into teachers’ hands,” said Nicole Cypers. 

Cypers works at AFCU’s corporate office in Ogden and travels to the Salt Lake Valley to work with school districts as needed. She said the program is a win-win-win for students, teachers and the credit union. 

“As an organization, we benefit from individuals who are financially literate. We believe that process starts very young. We’ve created a curriculum that’s aligned with the state’s requirements, but it’s also very flexible,” Cypers said. 

FUNDamentals curriculum has two full lesson plans for grades K-five and eight full lesson plans for grades six-12. There are 48 additional content packs or mini lessons. 

AFCU reports that as of March, 54 educators were using the program. The lessons are designed to be flexible. The modules don’t have to be done in a certain order and can be adapted as needed for grade level and time.  

Financial literacy itself is a bridge between math and ELA, so Cypers said the program was designed to be used “cross-curriculum” by teachers in those core classes. 

“We’ve tailored it to the state financial literacy requirements, but also aligned it with the common core requirements for math and ELA. We hope it’s used by teachers for multiple subjects,” Cypers said. 

To see the FUNDamentals program in action, visit www.americafirst.com/fundamentals and watch one of the several animated videos on topics from checking accounts to student loans and budgeting basics.  

Teachers who want to use the curriculum can register at www.education.americafirst.com to request a log in. The credit union says it will approve requests within 48 hours. 

“April is financial literacy month, and we want teachers to log on, use the curriculum and give us feedback. To encourage that, we ran a promotion where teachers could log in and use the content, then send us a picture of them in their classrooms. 

“All teachers who did that and filled out the ‘nomination form’ were entered into a random drawing for $500. We’ll announce the 10 winners on May 5,” Cypers said. 

Cypers hopes to get the word out to educators all over the state. “It’s a great resource and it’s designed to fit teachers’ needs. There’s so much content. There are videos, handouts, presentations and certificates teachers can print when students pass off a certain skill.”

Teachers can also use the sign in page to request a virtual or in-person visit from an AFCU employee to speak to students. “We can send a loan officer, branch manager or credit counselor. Topics are based on teachers’ needs, whether that’s budgeting, loans or building savings. And it’s all free,” Cypers said. 

Nominations for one of the $500 classroom grants are available on the America First Credit Union website.  

The content is available to public, private and charter schools. Cypers said they also want to make the program available to parents who homeschool.  

“These are critical life skills,” Cypers said. “With this program we’re expanding our commitment to elevating financial literacy and making it easily accessible to educators and students.”