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Student-Operated Branches Resource

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By Brendon Boren | March 22, 2021 | 4 Minute Read

Student-Operated Branches — Community Involvement Ideas

Girl counts cash at a student-operated bank branch
Community involvement is vital for local institutions, and more and more businesses are recognizing that. However, it can be difficult to come up with unique community involvement ideas
First Metro Bank, in northwest Alabama, has been at the forefront of engagement with its local community for years. Employees have designed the majority of their outreach and educational efforts to improve local financial literacy. Their most recent program, however, is taking things one step further. Instead of just talking about financial principles, the bank makes it real for students by building fully functional, student-operated branches in high schools. 
First Metro Bank’s Student-Operated Branches are some of the first in the nation. First Metro Bank starts branches within local high schools that are exclusively run by select students. This engages the youth of their community at a higher level, teaching them more about finance than a class ever could. The program is part of the FTSE’s pilot program to build financial literacy in high school students. 
Starting a student-operated branch takes some work, of course. Steps must be taken to protect the students, the institution, and the customers to ensure that the initiative runs smoothly and without legal complications. Here are the eight steps that First Metro Bank takes to get student-operated branches up and running. 


Written Proposal

The first step is always writing a proposal to the school board and superintendent. This proposal outlines the compliance requirements, branch design, products and services, curriculum, and supervision structure student-operated branches will involve, along with the impact they will have.

Permission from Regulators

Next, the bank must apply for permission from local and state regulators. This process involves another set of letters sent to the FDIC and local banking regulators, similar to the letters necessary to open any other bank branch. 


A branch run by minors has some significant training and security differences when compared to a branch run by adults. It’s essential to build a student training plan that includes routine safety requirements like cash limits and alarms. 


Student tellers need to be trained to manage legal requirements in banking, such as CIP, confidentiality, and complying with BSA/AML. Setting up compliance involves making some big decisions, such as how compliance will be tracked and connected with grading. 



Banks can operate both online and off, and it’s vital to decide how your student tellers will be involved. First Metro Bank keeps its students in an entirely offline environment to reduce risks and liability. 


When putting minors in charge of money, it’s important to include some oversight. Assigning adult educators to the bank as supervisors, instituting monthly audits and employee evaluations, and providing student tellers with ample training opportunities can help keep things organized and under control.

Building the Branch

Once all the plans are in place for the organization’s management, it’s time to build the location. It’s crucial to consider aspects like:

  • Location
  • Cost
  • Teller supplies
  • Building a “vault”
  • Adding shredders
  • Hours of operation
  • ADA compliance

Choosing Student Tellers

Choosing tellers can be the hardest part. In addition to the standard elements, the interview process must also consider the student’s behavior at school and their attendance record.


Building Your Own Student-Operated Branch

There’s more that goes into First Metro Bank’s Student-Operated Branches. For the program slide deck, overview, operational agreement template, and student teller manual example, click the download button below. You can also learn more by watching the full webinar here

Managing community involvement initiatives can be manual and time-consuming. Kadince makes this process easier by helping to streamline your data management, so you can focus more on getting out in your community. Schedule a personalized demo to start streamlining your community involvement management today!

None of Kadince, Inc., its affiliates, or its respective employees, directors, officers, and agents (collectively, “Kadince”) are responsible or liable for any content or information incorporated herein. Read full disclosure.

Brendon Boren | Kadince

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