A financial literacy program by Guaranty Bank is being offered to Ellis County youth.

April is financial literacy month and Guaranty Bank in conjunction with Operation Hope is coordinating an effort geared to educate youth grade 9-12.

“The program is because they’re going to be the next big consumer,” Lacy Mezger, Guaranty Bank manager of public relations and media, said. “They’re going to be managing money, we need to educate them as soon as possible.”

The community relations representatives at Guaranty Bank recognize the need to prepare the Ellis County youth and designed the “Banking On Our Future” program.

“When these children go to college and all the credit card offers start coming in the mail, and there is more financial freedom, we want to make sure that they’ll know how to proceed,” Mezger said. “The purpose is to teach money management and overall financial education so they can make sensible decisions.”

Mezger said credit cards are often like free money that can later to into financial woes to a college student who may not be financially informed.

The program teaches the ways to manage a checking and saving account, direct deposit, ATM and features of banking.

The program’s objective is to provide youth with financial education at no cost to school districts with a focus on urban and under-served areas throughout Texas.

In addition, Guaranty Bank is hosting a “train the trainer” program where the employees in banking centers are certified to be able teach the program within Ellis County.

Classes for the youth are dependent on request. Church youth programs, school districts, and any non-profit or for-profit youth organization in the community can make a request. The Banking On Our Future program is held in 90-minute sessions, one on each second Saturday, for three months.

“Training is designed to break down banking and credit education into terms that youth can understand and utilize immediately,” Mezger said. “Another big aspect of the program is not only teaching the use of the account, ATM or checking, but the budget and the how and why for budget.”

Anyone who has a youth group can call and make the request for the financial literacy program.

“We’ll come to you, maybe a banking center field trip or where the organization chooses such as a meeting hall, school auditorium or church,” Mezger said. “We provide a binder with balance sheets, budget pages, tips and information that the youth can take with them when they leave.”

Erika Montoya, Guaranty Bank community relations officer, is available to provide more information about requesting the program, at 800-999-1726 ext. 2733.

E-mail Bitty at bitty.reilly@wninews.com