What can a Vermont teenager in and around the foster care system do, without a parent or traditional guardian, when they need to manage their finances? As they navigate school and work, moving from placement to placement or trying to live on their own, they have no way to cash checks, safely store their earnings, build savings, or spend without having cash in hand. This lack of structure combined with a lack of understanding for the banking system adds even more challenges for these teens.
NorthCountry Federal Credit Union has partnered with Green Mountain United Way (GMUW) and Washington County’s Youth Services Bureau (YSB) in hopes to offer a solution. Together, they have developed Indy Accounts for youth participating in programs that are run by the YSB. Since these accounts do not require a joint owner, the teen is in control of their finances and NorthCountry staff are there for support along the way. As part of the service, NorthCountry will introduce the member to branch staff, walk them through online and mobile services, and assist with savings and financial goals.
“In the past year, we pivoted nearly all product innovation efforts toward increasing access to financial services for marginalized populations,” said NorthCountry Federal Credit Union CEO, Bob Morgan. “We believe Indy accounts are a result of this effort. The Indy Account is a tremendous example of how community groups can come together to create a solution for an unmet need. We would like to extend our tremendous gratitude to our partners at the Green Mountain United Way and the Washington County Youth Service Bureau for their help in making this new product a reality. We hope that by offering these accounts we can begin to form long-term positive change for these individuals and provide them with increased opportunity and support for their futures”.