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Promoting Financial Literacy with Junior Achievement of Washington

August 17, 2017

Founded in 1919, Junior Achievement (JA) has been dedicated to giving young people the knowledge and skills they need to own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices. Today, JA partners with school districts and teams of volunteers to bring educational units on work-readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy to K-12 classrooms at no charge to schools. For many students, participation in a JA program is their first introduction to real-world financial situations, such as budgeting and managing credit.
 
Peoples Bank supports Junior Achievement of Whatcom, Island and Skagit Counties (JA-WIS) through sponsorship and fundraising. The bank also provides enthusiastic and knowledgeable volunteers who step into local classrooms and teach young people about the financial realities they will one day face. Melinda Kaemingk, a compliance officer at Peoples Bank’s Barkley Village office in Bellingham, found volunteering with JA to be an incredibly rewarding experience. "Financial literacy is an incredibly important life skill,” she says, “but unfortunately many kids don’t learn about budgeting and saving until they’re in the real world and faced with a stack of bills. JA offers a curriculum that not only excites students, but enables them to experience real-life financial scenarios in the classroom.”
 
Volunteering with JA in the classroom can be also be a great opportunity to share the knowledge and expertise that Peoples Bank employees have as banking professionals. “By helping students learn early on how to live within their means in a classroom setting, we can help them better understand the economic choices they will soon be facing in real life,” says Alicia Kreiser, a real estate loan funder with Peoples Bank. “I hope that I was able to turn on a light bulb for students.”
 
In addition to providing classroom volunteers, Peoples Bank takes part in annual fundraisers. Tracy Osborn, a senior training specialist at Peoples Bank’s corporate office, serves on the board of JA of Washington and coordinates several fundraising events. "I want to make sure Peoples Bank is fully involved with everything and anything that we can do for JA,” says Tracy. “As someone who is directly involved with the training of new employees, the skills fostered by the JA curriculum are of great value not only to future clients of the bank, but also to those who may become employees a few years down the road.”
 
One of the fundraising events Tracy leads is the JA Bowling Classic. The event in Bellingham raises thousands of dollars for JA, and Peoples Bank is well represented at the lanes each year. “It’s an event we look forward to because it allows us to enjoy some friendly competition with our friends and family while raising money for such an important organization.”