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  • Writer's pictureW.B. King

Addition Financial CU Expands High School Branch Program in Central Florida

By W.B. King

Designed to introduce teenagers to financial literacy and help hone their money management skills, Addition Financial Credit Union’s unique High School Branch Program is a catalyst for personal growth.

“The opportunity to teach students about banking and contribute to their professional development seemed like the perfect opportunity for Addition Financial to have an impact in the community, schools, and the career path of the students,” Addition Financial’s High School Branch Manager Taylor Kowalczyk, a former teller in the program, told Finopotamus.

The credit union currently operates 10 similar programs in Central Florida. Come this fall Osceola High School, located in Kissimmee, will join the roster.

“The two existing branches at Poinciana and St. Cloud High Schools have proven instrumental in equipping our students with invaluable financial literacy skills and laying a strong foundation for their future careers,” noted Dr. Mark Shanoff, superintendent of the Osceola School District. “Our school district is excited that Addison Financial is expanding the program to Osceola High School as we work to ensure every student is future ready.”

Meticulous Planning and Implementation

Once a room in the high school is selected, Kowalczyk and her Addition Financial team works with high school staff members to create the branch experience. “From there, we conduct interviews with students and ensure everyone is prepared for the new responsibilities and benefits on campus,” she said.

From a technology and compliance standpoint, all branch setups involve “meticulous planning and implementation,” explained Jayce McClelland, Addition Financial’s information technology manager.

“Fortunately, our team finds the setup of new branches relatively easy due to a well-documented and largely unchanged process that guides us through each step efficiently,” he told Finopotamus, noting that the high school program faces a unique technical challenge: managing system access changes.

“This involves modifying user (team members) access rights or permissions within our organization's information systems, including granting, revoking, or altering access levels based on roles, responsibilities, or changes in employment status,” McClelland continued. “We manage these changes to ensure users have appropriate access for their job functions while adhering to security and compliance policies.”

With around 1,200 such changes annually across 11 schools, he added that high school team members are required to frequently adjust and align with respective academic calendars, but that Addition Financial tech team is there to oversee any significant challenges.

“All high school students participating in Saturday work at public branches or internships are required to have dual accounts, ensuring restricted access at the high school branch and appropriate access elsewhere,” she shared.

In general, between seven and 14 students participate in the high School Branch Program. These students are cross trained as “student tellers” and “member service representatives,” noted Kowalczyk.

“This means they learn how to run the teller line with transactions and a cash drawer. They also know how to assist with account opening,” she explained. “There are two to four head teller positions per school that are paid for balancing the branch and ensuring all employees are completing their duties in their role.”

Forward-Thinking Culture

Since its inception in 2008, the High School Branch Program has recruited over 40 Addition Financial employees. Positions range from universal agents, relationship managers, and contact center representatives.

“There are multiple employees, currently in leadership, that started with Addition Financial at a High School Branch location,” said Kowalczyk. “As a former student teller, the experience has come full circle. I got to learn the operation side of the credit union. I learned how to manage cash drawers and build on professionalism. Now, I manage the entire program for Addition Financial.”

When Osceola High School branch opens later this year, hours of operation will be between 4th to 7th periods. A total of 15 students will swap shifts to create varied opportunities for each teller to gain transaction experience,” said Kowalczyk.

The success of the program is derived from Addition Financials’ “forward-thinking culture,” McClelland told Finopotamus.

“Branch openings involve multiple departments within Addition, and it's the collaborative efforts of these departments that drive process improvement. Each department contributes valuable insights and innovations, which collectively streamline operations and enhance efficiency,” he continued. “Consequently, with each new opening, we benefit from the lessons learned and the advancements made, making the implementation smoother and more effective than the last. This collaborative approach ensures that our high school program continues to evolve and excel.”


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