Mary Ginder
Mary Ginder

The world is her classroom

Providing financial education, from schools to nursing homes to jails.

October 5, 2016

She has taught children in schools, residents in nursing homes, and even inmates in jail.

Clearly, Mary Ginder has a passion for providing financial literacy.

“One of my cornerstones has always been to help people learn something new and put it into action,” says Ginder, community financial education coordinator at $1.9 billion asset Royal Credit Union in Eau Claire, Wis. “From the youngest to the oldest, you get to see them set savings goals or plan for life goals and retirement.”

A 22-year credit union veteran, Ginder relishes the chance to build new learning partnerships.

She worked with a local middle school to create an entrepreneurship program called FUSE—Future U.S. Entrepreneurs.

As part of the program, students work with credit union staff to identify a business, write business and marketing plans, and create résumés.

Students present their plans to a panel of judges, and the top performers receive a cash award.

The approach won the Wisconsin Governor’s Financial Literacy Award for innovation in 2016.

Ginder also worked with the Barron County Financial Coalition to establish a high school reality fair this spring called “Test Drive: Next Stop Reality.”

The event gave more than 300 students in the rural Wisconsin county hands-on experience making financial decisions.

In the coming school year, the program will expand to Eden Prairie, Minn., where Royal has a high school branch.

Ginder also jumped at the chance to assist a local volunteer program that teaches financial literacy to Eau Claire County Jail inmates.

The four-week program runs continuously for eight months each year, cycling through new students.

“I see my role as a guide for each new student,” Ginder says. “I’m there to help them make a fresh start and learn how to make their income work for them. It’s so rewarding to see people realize there is another way to operate—one that offers new possibilities. It gives them hope.”