Blog Archives

Leon Woods selected as Junior Achievement of SoCal Volunteer of the Year!

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(From l to r): Eric Carlson, JA Director of Development; Denise Palafox, Executive Assistant to the President; Leon Woods; Hasani Johnson, JA Finance Park Program Manager; Kat Delgado Kirkwood, JA Interim President & CEO

We are pleased to announce that Junior Achievement of Southern California selected Leon Woods, VP and portfolio manager in our L.A Region, as its 2017 Volunteer of the Year!  It is because of dedicated volunteers like Leon that Junior Achievement is able to fulfill its mission to help students understand the importance of managing their money, planning for their future, and becoming active leaders in their future careers and communities.

Last year, we wrote on our blog about the many volunteers from our bank who participated with 120 high school juniors and seniors of Lennox Academy as they made their way through Junior Achievement’s Finance Park program. With their “adult for a day” duties, we helped the students learn about the world of personal finance through simulation exercises involving financial concepts like banking, budgets, careers, credit, debt, interest rates, income, investments and taxes.

When Leon was honored at Junior Achievement of SoCal‘s Annual Meeting, the organization’s leadership noted Leon’s exceptional ability to engage with the kids at Finance Park and help them understand the empowering opportunity they had to learn about personal and business financial skills.

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(from l to r): Hasani Johnson, JA Finance Park Program Manager; Leon Woods; Monique Johnson, JA Board Member & Education Chairperson

“I feel like it’s a homerun,” says Leon, “if I get through to these kids so they can also extend what they’ve learned to their peers, their siblings and maybe even their parents.”

Congratulations, Leon, for your dedication in motivating and empowering young people to learn how to develop and own their economic success.


Grandpoint Bank Teams Up with Junior Achievement for JA Finance Park

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If you’re a Grandpoint client, you probably already know that we really enjoy providing advice and resources to help our clients’ businesses succeed. On May 19, a handful of Grandpoint professionals had the chance to spend nearly the entire day doing just that…only our “clients” were a lot younger than usual.

We worked with some of the 120 high school juniors and seniors of Lennox Academy↗ who were attending Junior Achievement of Southern California’s↗ JA Finance Park as they assumed the role of “adult for the day.” Through the Finance Park program, students are challenged to learn about and navigate the world of personal finance with some help from adult mentor volunteers.  Each mentor works with a small group of students after receiving training from Junior Achievement staff immediately before the Finance Park event.

The simulation exercise teaches the students about financial concepts like banking, budgets, careers, credit, debt, interest rates, income, investments, taxes and more. Our Grandpoint Bank team members were each paired up with about four students, and we helped them allocate the budgets they were given. The students’ challenge was to secure the goods and services they needed to support their fictional profiles. The students’ assigned personas include details about their fictional career, family situation, salary, credit score, debt, and financial obligations. With assistance from their mentors, they then use and manage their finances accordingly.

Grandpoint Bank_FP Candid 5_05192016In preparation for the simulation event, the students had taken part in a 14-lesson classroom curriculum, taught by their teacher. They had preparation courses focused on four categories: income; savings, investing and risk management; debit and credit; and budget.

The simulation takes place in a mini city, complete with branded stores and kiosks, donated by real-world companies.

Stretching their budgets was the biggest challenge for the kids we worked with, and it was a very eye-opening experience when they realized that it could be tough to live within their assigned means. They had to scale back their choice of housing, cars and incidentals. Realizing the costs and variety of utilities they needed to cover was another shock for them.

“We saw that this exercise really helps the students realize what their parents go through,” said Darlene Esquerra, one of our senior vice presidents and institutional banking manager. “You see the lights go off in their heads when they understand what it means to have to buy things for everyone in the family.”

Under the rules of Finance Park, the kids have to address each category of finance. “During the savings component, the kids learned to save some from each pay check, but they had to balance that with essentials like purchasing insurance for themselves and their family,” Darlene added.

Everyone at Grandpoint and its division banks have enjoyed the Junior Achievement experience so much, that we now participate with Junior Achievement in each of the markets where we operate banks, including Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson and Vancouver, Washington.

“We feel like this is a great investment in our communities and in the next generation,” said Darlene. “We’re also talking to Junior Achievement about expanding our partnership in the coming years.”

To learn more about how you can get involved with Junior Achievement, contact their Southern California office or their local office in your market.


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