Finance

Maryland Credit Union Mission for Financial Literacy

A recent study by Standard & Poor’s found that only 57% of American adults consider themselves financially literate, as measured by their knowledge of basic banking and personal finance.

A recent study by Standard & Poor’s found that only 57% of American adults consider themselves financially literate, as measured by their knowledge of basic banking and personal finance.

Some Americans are more susceptible to financial illiteracy than others, which Audra Pettus remembers experiencing firsthand when she began her banking career in an economically distressed area where she regularly interacted with clients.



“They would have difficulty with things that I thought were the most basic banking concepts,” Pettus said. “They didn’t understand the difference between a debit card and a credit card.” They didn’t understand what features were available in online banking.”

She added: “That was about 10 years ago – so that was when check fraud was extremely prevalent. And they became victims of them because they were victims of their ignorance and their despair.”

That experience is what led Pettus to accept a role at SkyPoint Federal Credit Union in Germantown, Maryland, to build a department dedicated to providing free financial literacy tools and classes. She now works as the Director of Community Relations at Skypoint.

Financial education should start at an early age, Pettus believes, and that can start with what parents teach their children.

There are three basics, she said.

“How to save money.” How to budget effectively. And how to borrow responsibly. Those are the three most important things when it comes to responsible financial management,” said Pettus.

Her team created programs on financial health. Topics include a credit building seminar, pathways to home ownership, life insurance and retirement savings, entrepreneurship, investing and paying for college.

SkyPoint also has a partnership with financial education content platform Banzai for interactive virtual financial literacy courses and games, with which it offers free schools in the region. It also partners with Greenpath Financial Wellness, a nonprofit debt counseling organization, and offers its own second chance credit card program.

SkyPoint serves unbanked customers, often minorities and immigrant families. It has three Maryland chapters — in Germantown, Rockville and Silver Spring — and about 13,800 members.

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