Also in 2008, in partnership with the Education Department, the FDIC eliminated a requirement for banks to get explicit approval to set up branches inside schools, a process that sometimes took more than three weeks.
That change fostered a national increase in school bank branches, said Luke Reynolds, the FDIC’s acting community affairs director. Reynolds estimated that there are more than 100 student banks in the United States. Before 2008, he said, there were probably a couple dozen.
Last school year, Capital One approached Parkdale Principal Cheryl Logan about starting a branch at Parkdale, as the bank had done at schools in Newark, Harlem and the Bronx. Logan jumped at the opportunity.
Parkdale, a cavernous building with more than 2,200 students, sits atop a hill on Good Luck Road. More than two-thirds of its students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Fewer than half of its graduates, Logan estimated, went to four-year colleges this fall. She said she thirsted to give students a unique opportunity.
“A lot of these kids don’t come from families that go to the bank,” Logan said. “They will do check-cashing or something else. This bank brings kids into the mainstream. Going to the bank is something that college- and
career-ready people do.”
Logan’s biggest concern? Security. But she was relieved to hear that none of Capital One’s other school branches have had a robbery or a serious incident.
Parkdale’s branch will be open only to staff and students, three days a week, during lunch periods, with an adult manager overseeing activity. The 10 students selected as bankers applied for the positions with essays and interviews with student leaders. They run the gamut of academic ability, from a top student to one who was suspended last year for fighting.
As part of their training, the bankers are certified to teach fellow students about financial security. They will be paid $11 an hour.
They have already begun planning their financial futures. “I’m saving half of my money,” said Smith, of Landover. “Then I can use it to buy the car.”
The students are also learning about national financial issues. During a training trip to New York, the students visited a Federal Reserve bank, where someone explained the significance of the debt ceiling and the recent decision by Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the country’s credit rating.
“Credit can be such a dangerous thing if you buy what you can’t afford,” said Bladimir Martinez, 16, of Riverdale. “Now I really feel like I understand it.”