Financial Well-Being

MD Student Bankers Learn, Serve, Teach and Create New Futures for Themselves

Becoming a Capital One Student Banker

Bladimir Martinez, a senior at Parkdale High School, in Riverdale, Maryland, wasn’t planning on going to college after graduation.

This program has changed my future plans. — Bladimir Martinez

"When I entered high school, I had a broken mind-set. I was the kid who sat in the back of the class. The kid who entered high school looking to just pass math and graduate so I could enter the International Brotherhood of Electronic Workers and become an electrician," Bladimir said. "Other than my parents, no one believed in me, and I was becoming involved in activities I shouldn’t have."

That was, until his teacher Ms. Alvarenga encouraged him to apply for a new youth development program starting up at the school. Through the program, created by Capital One Bank, students run and operate a real bank branch inside of their school. Students are not only responsible for operating the branch and offering savings products for their fellow students and faculty, but also for teaching their peers about money management topics such as budgeting and saving. The program provides real-world job experience—all of the students receive professional job training, entry-level bank teller salaries, mentoring, and career and college preparatory experiences through colleges and universities.

After a series of interviews, carefully writing an essay and a tough conversation with the interview panel about his academic performance and ways he could improve his grades, Martinez was selected as one of 10 student bankers at Parkdale.

During the following summer, Martinez participated in teller training for seven weeks, delivered remarks as a guest speaker at the Prince George’s County Board of Education about the student branch program, and went on a college campus visit to the New Jersey Institute of Technology, in Newark, New Jersey. "It was a great experience, we got to meet a lot of new people who might not know it, but made a huge impact in our lives," Bladimir says. "We also visited the Museum of American Finance and the Federal Reserve in New York where we learned a tremendous amount."

"Before this program I wasn’t heavily considering college, but with the people I’ve got to meet, that has changed. I still remain uncertain on what career I wish to pursue, but one thing is for sure: school is a must in my life," Bladimir said. "I’ve always wanted to change, but I never found a good reason why. This opportunity has given me more than enough reasons to seek a change in my life. I now dress differently, I now speak differently, I now circle myself with a different crowd, and most importantly I now make different decisions."

The Parkdale branch marks the fourth branch Capital One Bank has opened in a high school. Other branches are located in Newark, New Jersey; the Bronx, New York; and Harlem, New York.

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Financial Literacy
In addition to gaining job and life experiences, the Capital One Bank student-run branch program is designed to enable the student bankers to learn important money management skills and pay those lessons forward. The students are all responsible for teaching their peers about money management skills such as budgeting and saving as part of the program.

Charles Oduro, a former participant in the student-run branch program in the Bronx learned the power of savings during his tenure in the program. Oduro managed to save $1,000, which he used to buy four acres of land in his hometown of New Koforidua in the Ashanti region of Ghana. Charles then lent the land to his friends and family for farming purposes until he returns again to Ghana.

"I have always regarded making my community better than what it was when I left it as my top priority in life," Oduro said. "The feeling of giving back to the people that I love dearly is beyond words. It is very rewarding when I see the proud faces of the people who smiled at me while nurturing me as an infant. It makes me feel great and motivated to do more."

To date, 95 percent of the former student bankers have enrolled in college.