They’re generating in-house wealth!
Out of the 300 historically Black high schools that once stood in North Carolina, only five stand tall today. One of those schools is Hillside High School in Durham. While known for their academic rigor and student engagement, Hillside has one thing that most high schools don’t - their own bank.
The school is hoping to prepare students for the future and provide financial literacy by opening a fully functioning bank inside of the high school. This bank is not limited only to students either, it also extends to staff and families who can open checking and saving accounts as well.
The Hillside’s Student Bank Training Center is an extension of the Woodforest National Bank, which has over 80 banks throughout the state of North Carolina. Senior Vice President Jessica Valentine said opening a branch in a high school was a first and they’ve made sure to equip this bank with everything they need to succeed. The bank has an official staff of service representatives and even offers jobs to students of the school’s Business and Finance Academy.
Priscella Ross, head of the Business and Finance Academy, told WUNC, “Hopefully this will generate some more interest in students wanting to learn more about the Finance Academy, especially those students who are going to be accountants are thinking about going into anything finance…They definitely would want to come to Hillside high School."
The lessons these students are learning are already paying off! Kiara Lowther who is a senior at Hillside and works as a Loan Officer said, "Before I took this class, I used to spend money on fast food and a lot of pointless stuff. But Ms. Ross showed us how to balance our money and how to save up.”
Hillside now joins a long legacy of Black-owned/operated banks that help empower the community to be fiscally responsible and learn the foundations of creating generational wealth. Embedding a bank within a high school helps cement financial literacy at an even earlier age and we hope that more schools follow suit.
Take note folks, this is banking smart!Photo: Brittney Cherry/ Leoneda Inge