By Sharon Fountain, Chicago Crusader
Derricka is a bright, intelligent and energetic 10-year-old, who recently opened her own bank account.
She now joins a growing number of African American children not only learning about money, they are also actively participating in managing their money.
Prudential Financial documented the state of the African American in its research report, “The African American Financial Experience.” In 2011 and 2013, and then again in a 2015-2016 report, Prudential documented the monetary state of African Americans.
One consistent finding is the need for the community to have increased financial education. Each report revealed very slow progress but confirmed the continued need for education. Other reports suggested that educating minorities in their youth would have a better outcome for them individually, and for the long-term economic empowerment of the community.
Although Derricka is an above average student she hasn’t learned anything about managing money in school. Her introduction to money came after her great aunt Shirley Vickers realized the child’s decision in a financial matter was flawed.
“Derricka, being the loving, responsible child that she is, wanted to repay me for something she broke. So, we met and I allowed her to repay me in installments. The first payment was a portion of her allowance. When it came time for the second payment she wanted to use her entire allowance, which would have left her without any money. I recognized this as the same bad decision many adults make. So that’s when her parents and I discussed me surprising her with a bank account to facilitate her learning budgeting, savings and setting financial goals.”
Vickers is a retired loan officer trainer who now helps people restore their credit and provides financial education and business development services as an independent Save Credit representative. She contacted local banks in search of an institution that offered guardianship accounts and educational training. She wanted Derricka to be able to make her own transactions and be responsible for her own financial solvency.
After contacting Chase Bank, Guaranty Bank (located in most Food for Less Stores) and Citibank she decided to establish an account with Bank of America.
Bank of America offers a Minor Savings Account to assist children in building a savings account, and to learn about banking. There is no monthly maintenance fee if the child is under the age of 18. However, other fees may apply. A parent must open the account with the child, although the child can make transactions independent of the parent. Once the child reaches 18 the Minor Savings Account converts to a Regular Savings Account, and applicable fees will apply.
On Friday, April 14, Derricka accompanied by her mother met with Bank of America Officer Fred Hung. He discussed the process of opening an account with Derricka and her mother, as well as her financial goals. They both signed the bank documents and Derricka she is now among the people who bank their money.
Derricka keeps a very busy schedule for a 5th grader. She attends one of Hyde Park’s top performing schools, where she has a “B” average, loves math, science, and reading. She comes from a loving two-parent home and has two older siblings. She has multiple Honor Roll certificates, has run in a 5K, sings with her school choir and the Hyde Park Neighborhood Children’s Choir, and takes ballet, violin and piano lessons.
Despite all this preparation for the rest of her life, Derricka’s climb could easily be stymied by financial problems. The decision to teach her about money matters early, will make a difference, considering she plans to become the President of the United States.
Derricka, and other young people interested in understanding finances and creating wealth at an early age, will benefit from attending free workshops offered by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission during the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s Money Smart Week, April 22-29. For Money Smart Week ISAC has created a special Financial Literacy page on its Student Portal.
Peggy Montes, founder and president of the Bronzeville Children’s Museum on the South Side, says the museum also places emphasis on financial education for young children. “We have a special program planned in recognition of Smart Money Week, on Saturday, April 22. It is innovative and engaging, and teaches the children the importance of saving.” The Bronzeville Children’s Museum is located at 9301 S. Stony Island. Call (773) 721-9301 for additional information.