Spreading Financial Knowledge

Transformational Transactions—Students cut the ceremonial opening ribbon for a  TS Institute-supported bank branch run by students at Wilson Middle School in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Transformational Transactions—Students cut the ceremonial opening ribbon for a
TS Institute-supported bank branch run by students at Wilson Middle School in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The TS Institute financial literacy school program offers a ‘personal touch’

By Bob Mantell

The TS Institute, a nonprofit financial literacy program affiliated with the TS Banking Group, a $320 million-asset community bank in Treynor, Iowa, introduces kindergarten through grade 12 students to the concept of managing money successfully. The TS Institute reinforces this idea throughout school curriculums by demonstrating that saving and managing money should be part of every young person’s personal education and development. Central to the financial literacy program’s success is increasing parental involvement in their children’s lives through banking activity.

The TS Institute’s program teaches personal finance, banking, economics and entrepreneurship. It involves teacher workshops, classroom programs and events, community programs and events, and in-school banking programs. It works directly with school districts and nonprofit organizations. Three full-time individuals work with administrators, teachers, students and consumers to deliver curriculum materials and innovative programs.

The TS Banking Group donated $250,000 to jump-start this initiative, and three years later it made a $1 million commitment to help expand the program into other schools. To date the institute has impacted more than 10,000 students in Southwest Iowa and has received a grant from the Iowa Division of Banking to help expand the instruction program to other banks throughout Iowa.

Most recently, TS Institute and the Council Bluffs Community Schools have formed the first-of-its-kind kindergarten through 12th-grade branch network in the state of Iowa consisting of two elementary student banks, a middle school student bank and a high school student bank. It is the second branch network in the nation supplemented with financial curriculum within 21st-century skills and classroom visits.

The TS Institute has not created curriculum materials specific to its organization but rather has researched and vetted existing financial literacy content to provide objective, unbiased recommendations at no cost. The approach has been successful because state and local education agencies view the program as a legitimate source of objective financial literacy knowledge that local school districts can tap into. What makes the TS Institute’s program unique is its field presence and ability to assist local schools by providing the right content to meet their needs.

According to the Department of the Treasury, lacking personal financial knowledge and skills has a direct impact on children’s future financial success in life. Studies show that individuals graduating from high schools in states that require personal finance education have higher savings and net worth than individuals graduating from high schools in states where financial education is not mandated. The TS Institute has a long-term vision and desire for its financial literacy program to reach far beyond state lines to create a nationwide initiative.

Community banks can impact their local communities in remarkable ways by delivering effective financial literacy programs and products. The “personal touch” that TS Institute’s program provides is powerful and validates that community banks truly care about their clients and their communities.


Bob Mantell (bob.mantell@tsinstitute.org) is director of the TS Institute, a nonprofit financial literacy education program supported by the
TS Banking Group in Treynor, Iowa.

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