Joshua Martel, in kindergarten at Fernan
Elementary, offers $4.87 to Ann Siebert from Sterling
Savings Bank Tuesday. Martel hopes some day to buy a
opens accounts for the children
By JOE BUTLER
Wednesday, October 4, 2000
d'ALENE -- Note to scooter dealers: concentrate on the
of kindergarten age are announcing their intentions to save
toward one of the flashy new foot- or electric-powered
demonstrated Tuesday morning at Fernan Elementary, when
students of all ages brought their dollar bills and loose
change in to be counted and deposited in their own special
how much they put in that's important, but that they have
fun," said Ann Siebert, a personal banker with Sterling
Savings Bank and also the parent of two Fernan
students are asked to make deposits for their accounts, which
are noted in their own passbook. Siebert and other volunteers
try to make the transaction enjoyable by offering Tootsie Pops
and stickers, along with chatting with each
do you have today?"
need help counting?"
you saving for?"
seemed to be on the minds of everyone from kindergarten age to
the higher grades. A few said they want to start saving for
college, and one child drew laughs for "a lizard."
of everyone with regular deposits are placed in a drawing, and
once a month, three names are drawn and the winners given
said organizers also sit down with the students regularly and
explain their statements, including tricky things like
interest, or "why they have extra pennies in their
"We try to
make it fun," she said.
launched the program at Fernan last year, and about 125
students were participating by June, Siebert said.
about 100 students have signed up, although the number grows
each week, she said.
who aren't participating come up with questions," Siebert
also partners with Save for America, a Bellevue, Wash.
nonprofit company that encourages children to learn the value
of saving at an early age.
Forsyth, program manager, said Save for America coordinates
similar school-bank programs with 150 banks, and 85,000
children in 750 schools across the country.
It also is
the only school savings program approved by the U.S.
Department of Education, company officials said, and handled
more than $1 million in transactions last year.
Sterling, and about three other banks in Idaho, Save for
America offers a "kid-friendly" Web site and related teaching
aids to help students understand their accounts and the value
deposit, the students are asked to ask an adult volunteer to
pull up the site and track their accounts. The site also
breaks down other information about spending habits and how
close the student is to a particular goal.
banks in this area have their own school savings programs, but
Forsyth said Save for America works with any bank and any
allows school officials to make a large deposit at one bank.
The bank will be able to use Save for America to post the
appropriate deposits for every student, even if their savings
accounts are held at other banks.
Avena, Save for America president, said the site also has fun
random "Saver Bonuses" which show up after every few deposits
to make the process appealing, visit after visit.
said she likes how Save for America not just manages the
student account, but tries to be a part of the school
instance, the company recently donated $125 to the Fernan
helps expose students to the realities of the modern banking
world -- the people are more important than the
organizers were setting up Tuesday, they found out Fernan's
Internet was off-line due to upgrades with a fiberoptic
had to be done "the old way," by counting stacks of coins and
using pencils to enter deposits in passbooks.
have a plan B," Avena said.
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