Jenny Walker: Accentra promotes financial literacy utilizing award- winning Banzai program

Published 5:36 pm Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Accentra Credit Union is committed to improving financial literacy. Financial literacy is knowing what finances are and how to spend, save, and manage money effectively. Everyone has a “financial situation” for some it’s not so good, and for others, it’s great. But everyone has one. Financial literacy is the ability to take control of your financial situation. As a credit union we recognize that we are part of a community and that we have a responsibility to the financial health of the communities we serve.

You begin learning financial literacy concepts at a very young age (for instance the difference between a quarter and a dime), but financial literacy isn’t one and done, it’s a process where you master and apply skills one at a time. It’s a life-long learning and growth process.

Accentra CU is proud to be an exclusive sponsor of Banzai since 2012, supporting 46 schools in Southeastern MN. 106 teachers and 7,720 students already utilize Banzai’s amazing program. Banzai is an award-winning, interactive content platform that teaches real-world finance and practical life experience in our communities.

Banzai lets students practice managing their money and test their decision-making skills.

Any teacher in any grade elementary through adulthood can use Banzai as a supplement to their curriculum. Banzai courses align with our state’s curriculum standards. In addition to Banzai for schools Accentra CU also offers Banzai Direct (free digital financial library) to anyone in our communities.

“As a new teacher, finding these materials was a great addition to my class and how to help with “Adulting 101” skills,” said Pine Island secondary teacher Diane Banach. “I have 25 years of business background, yet am in my first year of teaching, so I truly appreciate the real-life scenarios that this program can bring into the classroom.”

There are four main Banzai courses. Every course has a pretest, course, and posttest. Each course can take up to two-six hours to complete depending on the course you choose. Teachers have the option to use this as an in-class assignment or as homework. They can also order free Booklets to their school with supplemental activities that follow along with the courses. Tests are automatically graded, giving Teachers ease in tracking students’ progress. With schools being shut down, Banzai’s remote friendly options have made teaching easier for teachers.

Banzai Junior (Elementary, ages 8-12)

• Students are given real life scenarios in a simulation game on how to own and operate a lemonade stand.

• Students learn about income, business expenses, unexpected expenses, counting currency, sales tax, atm withdrawals.

• The game makes reading, math and critical thinking fun.

Banzai Teen (Middle and High school)

• Students are put in a position to strive to earn money for college registration, The game guides students through financial basics as well as complicated topics like credit cards, auto loans, and insurance.

• Students learn about auto loans, credit cards, mortgages, interests and fees, auto insurance, buying a car, renters’ insurance, housing, overdrafts.

• No two paths look the same! Students get a fresh experience each time they play, letting them see new consequences for new actions.

Banzai Plus (High School)

• Presents students with challenging real life financial problems. Students spending habits pile up over time as they deal with lifelike setbacks, such as identity theft, unexpected expenses and auto insurance.

• Students must build and maintain healthy credit, qualify for a mortgage, utilize insurance, and more—all while managing a budget and working toward a savings goal.

• Other areas of focus are on credit reports, credit scores, down payments, buying a house, buying a car, life insurance, retirement accounts.

Digital Citizenship (all students)

• Curriculum focus dedicated to teaching students how to use technology safely and responsibly.

• Includes 2 modules: Internet Safety and Cyberbullying.

• Internet Safety covers 7 main areas: Empathy, How the internet works, Understanding user data, Practicing digital literacy, Acknowledging the digital divide, Practicing digital wellness, Securing digital devices.

• Cyberbullying covers: This quick educational experience teaches students all about what cyberbullying is, how to spot it, and what they can do about it. Examples of topics covered: Covers malware, SSL certificate, secure websites, brutal force attack, malicious adware, remote access, security breach, password security, phishing, terms, and conditions, public wifi

• Not only does Accentra CU sponsor schools, we also support members in our community with a free, comprehensive digital library. The library includes financial articles, financial calculators and interactive financial coach sessions. You can read all about tax planning, discover what the 50/30/20 rule means for you, calculate what it takes to pay off a credit card, estimate how much of mortgage you can afford, and so much more.

Topics covered:

• Insurance

• Retirement

• Buying a house

• Taxes

• Budgeting

• Life changes

• Identity theft, leaving a job, wills, preparing for a baby

• Borrowing and credit

• Smart living

•Starting a business