By Jackie Moynihan and Shelly Burningham, Real Life Directors
For the past several years, Merrick Bank has been a tremendous donor and partner for Youthlinc and its flagship after-school peer mentoring program, Real Life. In addition to their financial support of Youthlinc programming, Merrick Bank has also taken part in Real Life curriculum development and scholarship promotion.
Merrick Bank first got involved in Youthlinc during the 2017-2018 Real Life year. After generously donating to the Real Life program, Merrick Bank decided they wanted to do more. In 2018, they created a visually engaging and interactive financial literacy unit for Real Life students. The financial literacy unit has four lessons that are administered by volunteer Merrick Bank employees at Real Life sites during the month of March.
The first lesson helps students to be able to identify all physical types of currency, learn the value of each coin and bill, and understand the basic elements of a check. In the second lesson, students are taught basic credit terminology, the impact of credit cards/credit usage on their financial goals, and the differences between credit, debit, and prepaid cards. In the third lesson, students learn how to keep a record of their income and expenses, and how to divide their income into a simple spending budget. The fourth lesson teaches the students to decide whether their goals are short-term, mid-term, or long-term, and how to save accordingly. Each lesson has a set of activities to help the students have an interactive way to understand and retain the material.
To measure the impact of the financial literacy curriculum, Merrick Bank volunteers and Real Life Interns administer pre and post assessments. Last year, the average scores increased around 16% from pre to post assessment. Real Life Directors and Interns have been so impressed by all of the time and resources Merrick Bank supplied to create this curriculum.
For the past two years, Merrick Bank has also been one of the primary donors for the Real Life Scholarship, a need-based scholarship for Real Life high school seniors and college students of refugee or immigrant background. In 2019, Merrick Bank Senior Vice President, Melanie Andersen, was asked to judge the first ever installation of the scholarship. She not only accepted the offer but also proposed Merrick Bank contribute to the scholarship fund. With the financial contribution of Merrick Bank and others, Youthlinc will be awarding one $5,000 scholarship, one $3,000 scholarship, and three $2,000 scholarships to 5 deserving applicants this spring.
Beyond the Real Life program, Merrick Bank has also supported the Youthlinc Service Year, a nine month local and international service learning program for high school and college students. Through the purchase of table space at Youthlinc’s Annual Benefit, Merrick Bank has provided sponsorships for students to participate in the Service Year. This funding allows Youthlinc to expand opportunities to a wider range of students in Utah.
In conclusion, Merrick Bank has provided so many amazing opportunities for Youthlinc and Real Life, and their program beneficiaries. They have exceeded all expectations of a donor, truly going above and beyond. Youthlinc cannot express the amount of gratitude it has for the contributions of this amazing community partner.