Hartford's Bulkeley High School Is The First In The City To Open A Franklin Credit Union Branch, But It Won't Be The Last.
April 26, 2007
By DANEIL D'AMBROSIO, Hartford Advocate Staff Writer
Senior Carl Basdeo was working last week at the newly opened branch of the Franklin Trust Federal Credit Union in Bulkeley High School — the first to open in a Hartford school — when a staff social worker dropped in to ask about mortgage rates.
Marty Dobroski said he likely would open an account with Franklin if the rates were competitive.
“Having a bank right where you work is nice,” he said.
The soft-spoken Basdeo, neatly dressed in a dark sweater and slacks, is one of three Bulkeley students chosen to work in the branch.
Juniors Maria Aguilera and Adisa Klempic were also selected for the internship program. Two Franklin employees work along with the students during branch hours — 10:15 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“We picked kids we knew were in school every day, and were high achievers outside of school too,” said accounting teacher Dave Krikorian.
Basdeo said he liked working at the branch because it’s “like a real experience.”
The branch has signed up 15 new accounts for students and teachers since opening in January, according to Dawn Malave, Franklin’s operations manager.
“It’s certainly not a profitable thing for us at this point and I don’t expect it will be,” said Kiernan Dubay, Franklin’s president and chief executive officer. “We see it as an investment in the future.”
Dubay wants to reach kids early to teach them about personal finances, and perhaps do some business.
“When they want their first car loan they’ll think of us, but in the meantime we’re doing some good,” Dubay said.
Founded in 1934 in the depths of the Depression, Franklin was loaned money to people the banks had cut off. Dubay said the credit union has about $41 million in assets.
On April 26, Dubay will meet with Bulkeley principal Miriam Taylor and members of her staff to map out new curriculum to teach students about banking and finance.
Taylor said she is readying a room in the school that will resemble a board room, where students can meet around a large conference table with Franklin employees to discuss the financial services industry.
“We need to expose kids to the corporate world,” Taylor said. “They can say, ‘Yes I’ve sat around the table with people in three-piece suits.’”
Bulkeley’s credit union branch was the brainchild of the school’s Academy of Business and Finance, and its lead teacher, June Zottola.
“We said in the department it would be nice to bring the real world into the school,” said Zottola.
Both Dubay and Taylor were immediately receptive to the idea, according to Zottola.
“I personally have sent so many youngsters to get jobs at the credit union over the years, almost every time I walk in there I know I have students in there I’ve taught,” Zottola said. “If we’re sending them employees why couldn’t we form a partnership?”
Franklin covered the cost of converting a space formerly devoted to a school store into its branch and a revived store.
All Bulkeley students and teachers can become members of the credit union. The students’ parents can join as well. Krikorian said the Franklin internships have worked out so well his department is looking for five or six more students to bring into the program.
Franklin is also expanding into other schools, with a branch scheduled to open at Weaver High School in the fall.
“I think we’re true to the credit union roots,” said Dubay. “We serve the underserved people, pulling money together to help common folk.”