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Essay contest spurs financial know-how

Essay contest spurs financial know-how
Teri Williams, president of OneUnited Bank (Photo: Chris Aduama)

Essay contest spurs financial know-how

In honor of National Financial Literacy Month, OneUnited Bank is hosting its 3rd annual essay contest to promote financial literacy among the nation’s youth.

Children ages 8 through 12 are encouraged to read “I Got Bank!” or a similar educational book promoting financial literacy and write a 250-word essay detailing how lessons from the book can be applied to their lives.

“Financial responsibility is a part of the equation for a happy, successful life, and I don’t think you really can be too young to learn. It really does form a foundation for future success,” said Teri Williams, president of OneUnited Bank. “I think it’s important for our kids to know. There is a lot of rap music and popular culture about money, but there isn’t a lot out about how do you obtain wealth, how do you manage wealth, how do you build wealth, and my hope is that through the book as well as through the contest, that kids will really focus on building wealth and how to make money as opposed to just how to spend it.”

Essay submissions must be electronically submitted or postmarked by June 15, 2013 in order to qualify for the grand prize. Three winners will be chosen to receive a $1,000 OneUnited Bank savings account.

Written by Williams, “I Got Bank” covers topics such as bank accounts, credit scores and interest rates through the story of Jazz Ellington, an African American boy whose grandfather teaches him the importance of saving by creating a savings account for the child.

Williams began working on the book after failing to find appropriate teaching materials for the bank to use during a program in which OneUnited staff made appearances at schools to spread financial literacy.

“Some of the issues that the urban community has to deal with are different than [the issues faced by] the communities that are depicted in the other books, so when I looked at the books, they just weren’t characters or stories or information that I really thought our community could relate to,” said Williams. “It really wasn’t something that I necessarily wanted to do my entire life, it was just a need that I saw wasn’t being fulfilled.”

The “I Got Bank” Essay Contest was created in 2011 in an attempt to provide an extra incentive for kids to become financially literate. Submissions can be sent via mail to the OneUnited headquarters or through the bank’s website: