Bankers supporting financial literacy in April

Wisconsin bankers are supporting financial literacy throughout the state this month by focusing on education and engagement at the community level.

April is Financial Literacy Month, and banks are holding events with the participation of local schools to strengthen connections between local banks and the people who use them.

The Wisconsin Bankers Association has declared April 16-20 as Power of Community Week, with 90 banks in the state committed to participating in community-building events as well as teaching kids — and some adults — about saving money.

“With 42 banks reporting their activities, we are logging over 1,000 volunteer hours for this month and over 1,300 bankers participating,” said Eric Skrum, communications manager for WBA.

Wolf River Community Bank is providing volunteers for a Wolf River clean-up event in Shiocton, while Investors Community Bank in Manitowoc is holding a video competition with cash prizes for local nonprofits.

Dozens of banks statewide are participating in Teach Children to Save Day on April 20, when bankers will visit classes in school districts where they have a personal connection to discuss finances in a child-friendly way.

WBA is offering “Reading Raises Interest Kits” to help volunteers discuss saving, budgeting, interest and other topics. These kits come from the Wisconsin Bankers Foundation, and are aimed at a younger audience.

“Last year, WBA members made nearly 400 presentations and reached over 23,000 students. We are on track to exceed that number this year,” Skrum told

This year’s kit includes a the book “A Chair for My Mother” by Vera Williams, which is about a girl and her mother saving up money to buy a chair. It also includes a lesson plan, a handout for students which is customizable with local bank logos, a sample press release, a list of recommended books as alternatives and more.

Skrum is one of these volunteers, and is visiting eight different classrooms of kindergarteners and second graders in the Lodi School District.

He says he will read to the kids and ask about their own financial goals. They’ll be drawing what they want to save for, and discussing ways to remind themselves to put away money.

This whole financial literacy push is an annual effort, and Skrum is no stranger to making these visits.

“It’s a way for me to interact with my daughter’s classrooms and do it in a meaningful way,” he said. “That’s the very cool thing about this — I never talk about banking… At that young of an age, we’re just talking about basic things, needs vs. wants.”

Skrum notes that the financial literacy effort from WBA isn’t limited to that young age group, and older kids can be targeted with other events like career fairs.

See a map of local banks involved with the effort:

–By Alex Moe