From kindergarten through adulthood, our goal is to help educate people of all ages about the real-world principles of money management.
BayCoast showed its commitment to financial education by choosing Fall River resident Lucia Rebelo to fill a first-of-its kind role at the Bank – Financial Literacy Education Officer. One year after taking on this new position, Rebelo, who previously served as AVP, Business Development and Government Banking Officer for BayCoast Bank, is reflecting on the progress that has been made so far.
“We are bringing financial literacy to the forefront,” said Rebelo. “We have always done a great job focusing on this topic, but in my role now, we are making sure our financial education programs are more visible in the community. When we partner with local organizations, we ask how we can help. Once we identify those needs, we can offer solutions including our financial education programs. We want to be a resource and truly do what is right for the community,” adds Rebelo.
“We’re all family. Every one of us in this community is family,” said Evelyn Ranone, FVP, CRA Officer for BayCoast Bank. “We take pride in helping others. That is a very important part of who we are in the BayCoast culture.”
One way BayCoast is helping educate students in our communities is through Credit for Life fairs, which gives them a real-world view of finances and budgeting. Through the program, high school students have the opportunity to simulate life as a 25-year-old adult by choosing a career they aspire to, then using the salary they “earn” to budget for real-life expenses such as housing, food and health care. The results have been eye-opening. “Students are still buzzing about the recent Credit for Life fair at our school,” said Meagan Tracey, Associate Principal of Early College Access at New Heights Charter School of Brockton. “Many students felt as though this was the first time they had any real grasp on what ‘adulting’ could look like for them. I know these money lessons will follow these kids throughout their lives.”
Over the past several months, Rebelo says she has been able to expand the program. “Credit For Life is now available both online and in person, so it is accessible to more schools than ever before. Durfee High School, for example, has opted to use just the online platform because they have a significant number of students participating in the program. Teachers can track progress, see the money decisions being made, and follow up with meaningful conversations in the classroom.”
For adult learners, BayCoast offers the FDIC Money Smart program, a valuable tool for improving financial awareness.
“When Lucy goes into the community with these programs, it is our goal to form lasting relationships,” adds Ranone. “For 95% of her outreach, she will bring a BayCoast colleague. So for example, if she’s teaching a lesson about credit cards, someone from Consumer Lending will also attend. That way, she has support to continue the conversation long after the program has been completed. We have received wonderful feedback.”
BayCoast has also partnered with Catholic Social Services, which operates shelters in Fall River and New Bedford. The goal is to help residents improve their financial outlook and make good money decisions. “I work closely with Sister Rose’s House and Donovan House,” notes Rebelo.
“Every week, I bring in new money topics for discussion. We enhance these programs by delivering them in multiple languages, including Portuguese and Spanish. The residents are so appreciative. In 2023, we hope to expand financial education programs because that is one important way we can do good for our community.”