Educational Employees Credit Union is opening a new branch on the Clovis West High School campus, to be staffed by students.
The fully-functioning bank, set to open in August, will serve as a hands-on classroom for students pursuing Clovis Unified’s new banking and finance Career Technical Education (CTE) pathway.
“There are 28 students that are signed up for the pathway next school year,” said Clovis West principal Dr. Marc Hammack. “These are the students who will be going through the 80-hour training with EECU over the summer and working in the bank next year. Hopefully that leads to a career in banking or finance.”
Three to four students at a time will work in the bank in two-hour shifts throughout the school day and after school, during normal bank business hours, Hammack said.
“They’ll help folks work on bank loan information in conjunction with the EECU employees. They’ll be working back here as tellers as well,” he said, during a recent tour of the building’s construction.
About 3,000 square feet of existing classrooms are being remodeled and about 2,000 square feet of new construction is being added to the site.
The project was made possible by a $1.5 million state Career Technical Education Grant and matching $1.5 million in Measure A funds.
“What makes this unique is this is the first actual new construction of a bank on a school campus as opposed to transforming a current classroom into a bank that’s only open so many hours,” Hammack said.
The bank’s ATM will be available for public use on May 13, just in time for the CIF State
Swimming & Diving Championships hosted the following week by Clovis West Aquatics.
Clovis West’s parking lot will have eight stalls in front of the ATM and bank that will be marked for public use.
The bank will feature a conference room, a vault, a bathroom, a counter for tellers and cubicles for loan officers.
For the bank’s connecting classroom, administrators gathered inspiration from Google headquarters and ordered modern, modular furniture that can be moved around to meet student needs, Hammack said.
Students will have the opportunity to enter a business and finance CTE pathway as incoming freshman. Their English and math courses will have finance and business components embedded in the curriculum, Hammack said.
“By their junior year they’ll select one of two paths: the bank and finance pathway or the small business pathway,” he explained. The $3 million construction project will serve both.
Adjoining classrooms are being transformed into an entrepreneurial lab and student store to be used by students enrolled in the small business pathway.
“We have a screen printing business on campus where we print T-shirts,” Hammack said. “All that is funded through our Clovis West Foundation.”
Those T-shirts and other items will be sold in the new student store, which features two roll-down metal gates for storage, a display window, display counters and a point-of-sale system.
“There is a lot of technology in there,” Hammack said of the entrepreneurial lab. “There are areas where we can hang monitors so kids can film commercials and market their products.”
The students won’t be paid for the hours worked in the store or bank, but EECU could choose to hire them over school breaks and summer vacation outside of school hours, Hammack said.
“For EECU it’s a way for them to intern some of the kids prior to hiring them,” he said. “Our kids in high school are looking for jobs and it’s difficult to get your foot in the door. It’s a way to bridge that gap between education and the business world. They’re training future employees.”
Brittney Medina, a junior at Clovis West, is interested in becoming a merchandiser and enrolled in the banking and finance CTE pathway to learn on-the-job skills.
“I thought it was a good idea because it’s more hands-on experience and you’d have more opportunities as you go on,” she said.
Medina is also excited about the opportunity to work in a bank after graduating from Clovis West.
“After high school I want to go to community college, so that will be cool decision to do to have a part-time job while I’m in college; it’s like something to fall back on,” she said.
Opening a branch on the school’s campus is an opportunity for the credit union to give students transferable job and life skills, said Mark Perez, EECU’s senior vice president of lending and marketing. He noted that the credit union was founded in 1934 on a school campus.
“You’ve got job skills in cash handling, member service, interacting with the public and getting a real behind-the-scenes look at providing financial services and the importance of financial services in the community,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity for the students to gain from us and for us to gain from the students.”