Magazine article American Banker

Ill. Bank Readies H.S. Branch

Magazine article American Banker

Ill. Bank Readies H.S. Branch

Article excerpt

Putting teenagers in charge of a bank branch may not be every banker's idea of safety and soundness, but one bank in Chicago plans to give it a try.

The $269 million-asset Park Federal Savings Bank plans to open a branch in early January inside Curie Metro High School, on the city's South Side. It will be run by students and cater to students and their parents, said Paul J. Lopez, Park Federal's chief credit officer.

The Park Federal branch is modeled after one that Milwaukee's Mitchell Bank opened four years ago in a high school. That branch has brought in deposits of about $850,000 and loans of more than $300,000, said Mitchell's chairman, James Maloney.

Mr. Maloney said the school asked Mitchell to open a branch in its building during a series of community meetings the $80 million-asset bank held to find ways to serve its market's growing Latino population. He said students who work at the school branch serve as ambassadors to the community and have succeeded in bringing in customers -- often their own parents -- who previously did not have bank accounts.

"I estimate that our traffic at our main bank, which is two and a half blocks from the high school, has quadrupled" since the school branch opened, Mr. Maloney said.

The idea was brought to Chicago by the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. A potential donor approached the center about contributing money for financial literacy programs

Dory Rand, Shriver's supervising attorney for community investment, said the center had heard about the Mitchell branch and thought it could be replicated in Chicago. She set out to find a school and a bank that would agree to open an in-school branch, and the donor gave the center $100,000 on Dec. 15 of last year to get the project going.

Curie Metro was chosen because it has a large Latino population and because it hosts a program called Education to Careers in which students work part-time and are in classes part-time. …

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