Home > Economic Development > Teens Knock On Doors to Promote Savings

Teens Knock On Doors to Promote Savings

Posted By admin On September 1, 2011 @ 11:48 am In East Los Angeles (Unincorp.),General News |

Braving the hot climate and a large number of barking dogs, a handful of teens from East Los Angeles took to the streets last week to spread the word about creating wealth by saving.

Eighteen-year-old Brandon Rodriguez, an incoming senior at Garfield High School, is a graduate of Pan American Banks’ Youth Financial Literacy Ambassadors program.
Motivated by a desire to help lift up the community, Rodriguez said he was excited and ready to hit the pavement and share the message that there is hope for a better future if you start saving today.

Rocio Ortega, also entering her senior year at Garfield, has already signed up members of her family for Pan American Bank’s free Children’s Savings Accounts.

Pan American Bank’s Financial Literacy Ambassadors hit the streets last week in East LA knocking on doors and spreading the word about the bank’s upcoming youth conference and it’s “Keep on Saving” program. (EGP photo by Gloria Angelina Castillo)

“It’s really hard. Yeah, we live in East LA, it’s a low-income community, low-income families, but I think a lot has to do with discipline,” Ortega said. She said many of the wage earners in local families are “making minimum wage, so it’s hard for them to save money when they’re living paycheck-to-paycheck.”

Ortega says understanding “needs” versus “wants” is fundamental to being able to save money and she regularly tells her friends, “You know what, you don’t need that.”

There is a lot of money in East LA, the community just needs to learn how to leverage it for their long-term benefit, Ortega and the other door-knocking volunteers told EGP.

Read this story IN SPANISH: De Puerta a Puertas, Jóvenes Promueven los Ahorros en el Este de LA [1]

On Sept. 10, the Financial Literacy Ambassadors will have another opportunity to spread what they have learned. Pan American Bank will host its 2nd Annual East LA Youth Financial Literacy Conference where the teens, along with the program’s grade school ambassadors, will lead workshops on topics that include: distinguishing needs from wants, how to make and keep to a budget, and how to save money. Targeted at children aged 5-13, attendees will be able to open a Children’s Savings Account immediately after the event. Starting early can lead to a lifetime of good financial habits.

The Youth Financial Literacy program started a couple of years ago after Pan American Bank CEO and President Jesse Torres read a report by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) that found nearly 50 percent of Latino families nationwide did not have a bank account, and were instead using check-cashing services and rent-to-own offers that charge high fees and interest rates.

That trend only seems to be growing; check-cashing businesses keep popping up all over East Los Angeles, said volunteers Rodriguez and Mike Gomez, 19.

Torres accompanied the teens on their route last week. “It’s important that we set the tone. That we say we’re serious about doing this, we’re putting the people behind it, we’re educating the kids, we’re hitting the pavement. If we don’t do that the message just won’t take,” he told EGP. “We want the most participation possible because we really believe in it.”

The bank’s goal is to open 14,000 children’s savings accounts. Torres estimates the accounts will cost the bank $12 each a year, including the bank’s initial $5 deposit. The additional cost is from sending out bank statements, maintaining the records on their computer system, etc.

“It’s a $12 investment now, but we know that over the course of the lifetime of these kids we’ll get that money back,” he said.

Like any other bank, Pan American Bank can increase its business by using saving deposits to create loans. Torres says the bank hopes its investment will lead to customer loyalty down the line when his young bank customers grow up and need a car, business, or home loan.

“It’s a definite upfront investment, but we know we’re here for the long-term. We’ve been here 46 years. We count on being here another 46. If we’re going to be here for that time, we have to invest now so down the road, 10-15 years, we have the benefit of an enlightened and economically empowered community,” and we can be a big piece in that, said Torres, who has also turned the bank into a community center of sorts, often hosting community groups and events at its branch in East Los Angeles.

The youth conference on Sept. 10 will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Pan American Bank branch located at 3626 E. 1st St. in East Los Angeles. The bank has another branch in East Los Angeles, and one in Santa Ana. For more information visit http://www.panamericanbank.us or call (323) 264-3310.

  1. September 6, 2011 at 3:31 am

    Thank you for posting the information on our upcoming Youth Financial Literacy Conference, which takes place on September 10, 2011 at our main branch at 3626 East First Street, Los Angeles, CA 90063.

    We are excited for this year’s event. This year the classes will be taught by our youth financial literacy ambassadors (http://egpnews.com/?p=29375) – these are high school youth as well as elementary school kids. It is intended to be a peer to peer event that brings together our youth to start them on their way to becoming asset builders.

    Once again, thank you.


    Jesse Torres
    Pan American Bank

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