PORTLAND -- Children brought envelopes filled with
money to school Tuesday morning to make their first deposits into the school
The envelopes were given to the classroom teachers at Guildersleeve School and
transported to the school office, where Lori Caruso, co-chairwoman of the
school banking program and member of the Parent Teacher Organization, picked
them up. She then deposited the money at the Portland branch of Liberty Bank.
Caruso said she was planning to return today to give students receipts for
their first transaction of the year, which the students will enter into their
passbooks. Monthly, the students will receive statements from Liberty Bank, the
local partner with the Save for America program.
While learning a lesson in math, students also learn a lesson in
responsibility, Caruso said.
"They're learning math skills and the benefits of banking," she said.
The savings account program is not new to the school, said Principal Bill
Grimm. It has been going on for several years. "I think it's great," Grimm
said. "It helps to promote savings and putting some money away."
Save for America, an independent non-profit organization based in Washington
state, was formed in 1980, said Stephan Avena, president of the organization.
The program was federally funded from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, but now
banks pay fees to participate. Each year, 150 financial institutions and in
between 750 and 1,000 schools are involved nationally, Avena said. Last year,
children in the program saved $1.55 million, he added.
Liberty Bank -- serving central, eastern and shoreline Connecticut -- carries
approximately 9,000 accounts from students at 55 schools, said Sue Murphy, of
Liberty Bank's Marketing office in Middletown.
The students receive a better interest rate on the school savings account than
with a premium savings account. Murphy said the interest rate from this past
week on a school savings account was 1.76 percent and the annual percentage
yield was 1.78 percent, while the figures for a premium savings account were
1.04 percent and 1.05 percent, respectively.
The program is optional to students in the school for third-graders through
fifth-graders. Nearly half of the 400 students are involved in the savings
program, Caruso added.
A 9-year-old boy in fourth-grade said he planned to make more frequent deposits
into his account because it's convenient and there are good interest rates. He
started by adding $10 to his account Tuesday.
"I used to deposit every two months, now I'm going to try to do it every
Tuesday," he said.
The boy's name can not be used because of a school policy requiring anonymity.
Another 9-year-old boy said he made an initial deposit of $75 and his goal is
to save $100.
One parent, Laurie Webster, whose daughter Brianne is in the third grade at the
school, encouraged her daughter to enroll.
"It's a good learning experience for her math skills and to learn about
saving," Webster said during a phone interview Tuesday evening.
Brianne, 8, is planning to save for something special, and at the moment has
her eyes on a Cherished Teddies figurine.
"My mom talked me into (participating)," said Brianne, who has saved $7 so far.
"I don't save money very well."
The students can only make deposits through the school, but they can make
withdrawals at Liberty Bank. Students can start a new account or transfer an
existing account into the program.
"Once they're set up, this account's set up for life," Caruso said.
School officials seeking more information about the Liberty Bank/Safe for
America program can call Sara Guild at (860) 704-2135.