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Junior ATB program pivots to online financial literacy learning sessions

By Aminah Syed 5 April 2021 2 min read

Kristen Christie (top)  and Franca Munn, of ATB's Beyond Banking Team, as well as the Junior ATB logo

Normally in-person, Junior ATB branches are set up for Grades 4 to 6 and mimic that of an actual ATB branch. Students are hired for various positions at the beginning of the school year. They learn to operate their own branch and take deposits from their classmates, which are then set aside into real ATB bank accounts.

“The program is normally very hands-on,” said Kristen Christie and her partner Franca Munn who are a part of ATB’s Beyond Banking team and support with delivery of the program. “We had to think of other ways to engage with students this year.”

Christie and Munn came up with financial literacy learning sessions for each of the 60-plus schools that will be participating. They took all the knowledge students would have learned throughout the school year operating their branches—things like how bank accounts work—and built upon it.

What resulted was two interactive sessions per school for students to learn the ins and outs of how money and banking work.

Christie explained they start off with basics like how money is earned and move into activities like how to count different denominations of cash together. It’s all timed perfectly with the students’ Grade 5 math curriculum that focuses on decimals.

“Session two we get into creating a budget and show them the importance of spending and saving money,” said Christie. “We talk about debit cards and credit cards and then there’s a video we share about how interest works.”

The sessions began in January and have been so successful that Christie and Munn are fully booked up until the middle of June. Many of the schools have asked for repeat sessions and have combined multiple grades to get the most out of the opportunity. For many schools, with field trips cancelled due to COVID-19, these interactive sessions are one of the few activities they have had all year.

“It makes it kind of special that we’re there and we’re helping,” said Munn. “If the students take away even one or two things from the sessions then we have succeeded.”

Christie and Munn enjoy the sessions just as much as the children do. The first question they’re asked usually has to do with the bank vault.

“They always ask about the vault because they think that there's diamonds and bars of gold in the vault,” laughed Munn. “They think it's like the movies.”

The pair also get a good laugh out of students’ answers to the question what do you want to save for.

“I learned what a Lambo was. It’s Lamborghini. A student wanted to save up for that,” laughed Munn. “Also dino nuggets and there was one student who really wanted to own her own Wal-Mart,” added Christie.

Christie and Munn will continue their interactive sessions until the end of the school year and ATB is currently looking at ways to scale up the sessions to even more schools in September.

Learn more about the Junior ATB program and how ATB is working to support Alberta’s Greater Good. If your school is interested in participating in the Junior ATB program and wants to learn more you can email junioratb@atb.com.

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