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CommunityAmerica Elevates Outreach in Wake of COVID-19

In the wake of COVID-19, CommunityAmerica has elevated its outreach efforts in the Kansas City region, working with local youth and expanding its support of students and parents in new and meaningful ways. Last spring, CommunityAmerica sponsored one of the largest virtual internships at the onset of the pandemic, which tapped more than 350 high school and college students, culminating in a local pitch competition highlighting innovative ideas to overcome the impacts of COVID-19. Now CommunityAmerica is launching several new partnerships and programs to enable financial peace of mind and preparedness for young adults to enter college and the workforce across our region.

Kansas City Public School District

In a unique and brand-new partnership with Kansas City Public Schools, CommunityAmerica is offering a ‘Life Skills Series’ to its students and parents. The completely virtual series is focused on confidence, money, success and preparing for higher education and the workforce. It is run by high school students in the district to leverage peer-to-peer learning. The offering will even include a parent and teacher session featuring CommunityAmerica CEO Lisa Ginter, and guest speakers Dr. Mark Bedell and his wife Robyn. The series is free and available to its more than 4,000 high school students in the KCPS District, as well as their parents. “This partnership is so different because it’s not just about teaching smart money habits. It establishes a practical foundation for college and workforce planning. In addition to learning from panelists who are experts in their fields, we recognize that students enjoy learning together, so we made the program very relatable at a peer level,” said Ginter.

Money 101 for Students

CommunityAmerica offers families with students a complementary consultation, designed to meet them where they are in their financial and life journey. When students come to a branch to open a Student Checking Account, they are offered a $10 incentive to complete a quick quiz that helps to assess their fundamental banking knowledge. The branch team can then identify education opportunities around topics like building credit, saving and budgeting. “Students must take a test to earn a driver’s license. We think the same requirement should apply when they open their first checking account. Mastering basic banking knowledge equips students with the tools and information they need to better manage their new bank account,” said Anita Newton, Chief Innovation Officer. “That’s why we created Money 101 – an easy, mobile-based assessment that asks common questions students tend to miss but are essential to understanding how to use their savings and checking accounts responsibly. We’re proud to be the only financial institution in KC that offers this readiness assessment with an incentive, which helps them get started with their account while gaining essential money skills that will serve them well into their future.”   

Girl Scouts of NE Kansas City NW Missouri

CommunityAmerica has teamed up with the Girl Scouts to develop a robust virtual financial education program. Following the completion of a series of lessons, Girl Scouts can earn seven badges under the entrepreneurship and financial literacy pillar. This is significant because 22,000 Girl Scouts across the region have moved to a digital platform due to the pandemic, and the program further demonstrates CommunityAmerica’s commitment to creating financial wellbeing, especially during a time of disruption. You can view the videos here.

Comprehensive College and Career Planning

In tandem with new programs, CommunityAmerica offers a comprehensive service to help families prepare for higher education and the workforce. The program, having served over 4,000 families to date, is run by a former university financial aid professional with deep knowledge in all aspects of college preparation. Members are encouraged to access this valuable service as early as middle school. The process engages both the parent and student in identifying a range of alternatives for higher education based on academic and career goals, as well as tuition expectations. This can be anything from state school, to private college, to trade school, or various certification programs- it’s whatever works best for their needs and budget. The program outlines everything from ACT/SAT score requirements for admission and merit scholarships, to opportunities for financial aid, post-graduate employment rates and more, all culminating in a comprehensive and customized college and career roadmap plan.

In addition to these efforts, CommunityAmerica is opening its first-ever college campus branch at the University of Kansas in late fall, underscoring its commitment to making financial wellbeing and peace of mind easily accessible for young adults in the Kansas City region.

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