news.cuna.org/articles/119711-a-passion-for-financial-wellness
A passion for financial wellness
Local students celebrate graduation from BUFF $mart, a money management program sponsored by Education Credit Union.

A passion for financial wellness

‘There’s a fire that burns within us because of the success and impact we’ve had.’

July 27, 2021

Given its name, it’s not surprising that $351 million asset Education Credit Union has built a reputation for teaching others to succeed in the realm of financial wellness.

The Amarillo, Texas-based credit union emphasizes education and teaching skills to bring financial wellness to its more than 30,000 members plus local schools and the community at large.

“We love to teach,” says Tricia Bass, Education Credit Union’s vice president of learning and staff development and a former teacher. “We have a passion for it. When we’re designing lessons, we identify the end goal and work backward from there to make sure everything we discuss in that session addresses that outcome.

“By the end of any session the result is there,” she continues. “’Members know how to create a budget or buy a car. If it’s children, they know about income or the difference between wants and needs.”

Laying the foundation for the credit union’s financial education program when she started eight years ago, Bass tapped into her classroom experience to develop a curriculum for K-12 students that met state financial education standards with required activities including quizzes, pre-tests, and post-tests.

“We built a reputation,” Bass says. “Pretty soon, schools were calling us and asking for lessons on specific topics.”

During the 2018-2019 school year, Education Credit Union’s financial educators completed nearly 500 presentations to 14,600 students.

The credit union prepared for the 2020-2021 school year by creating three to five lessons for each elementary grade and four to five modules for middle school and high school students, making them available online to teachers within the school districts it serves. 

Tricia Bass

‘We love to teach.’

Tricia Bass

During the past school year, Education Credit Union provided 16,340 lessons for 3,721 students. 

The credit union has extended its reach to West Texas A&M University and other local colleges, where it conducts Money Management Boot Camps for students. Topics range from money management for incoming freshman to monetizing job offers for graduating seniors.

It trains students to be financial coaches who co-facilitate the educational sessions. Bass credits that peer-to-peer connection as one of the keys to the program’s success.

“It got students involved in the program and gave them ownership,” she says. “It’s become popular on campus.”

Credit unions improve financial well-being

Education Credit Union also extends its reach into the greater community through partnerships. Among the organizations the credit union works with are Panhandle Independent Living Center, an organization for people with disabilities, and Heal the City, a free health-care facility.

Bass says a commitment to financial wellness is a core value the board of directors adopted during a strategic planning session several years ago. 

“It was obviously an area we poured a lot of effort into and achieved success,” she says.

The program’s success and the resulting commitment throughout the organization have fueled the passion that makes the credit union’s financial wellness program what it is today, Bass says.

“We want to keep topping it,” she says. “What can we do better? What more can we do? There’s a fire that burns within us because of the success and impact we’ve had. We want to keep building on what we’ve accomplished.”