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Michigan Credit Unions Spread Financial Education During April’s 2024 Smart Money MI Kids Read

owlSmart Money MI Kids Read, a financial education initiative of the Michigan Financial Wellness Network (MFWN) funded entirely by the Michigan Credit Union Foundation (MCUF), kicks off this month. Michigan credit unions have been the sole supporters of this initiative every year since 2014, with funding from MCUF.

During the month, children’s books with a financial education focus are given to Michigan families attending youth literacy and financial education events at public libraries across the state during April, which is National Financial Capability Month and Michigan Financial Literacy Month.

“Credit unions are mission-driven to provide financial education and to support financial well-being for every stage of life,” said MCUF Executive Director Andrea Tucker. “Financial literacy leads to great life resiliency, while learning how to earn, spend, save and invest wisely contributes to overall well-being and stability. By partnering with our public library system to introduce preschoolers and young families alike to basic money concepts via engaging storybooks, Michigan credit unions are making an impact in sharing financial education in communities across the state.”

This year’s original book is titled Owl + Otter and the Big Talent Show and includes money-themed topics of earning, sharing, spending and saving at a credit union. This book builds on the popularity of the fun woodland animals introduced in last year’s book Owl + Otter and the Big Yard Sale.

“As one of the MFWN's flagship initiatives, the Smart Money MI Kids Read program touches thousands of our state's youngest learners each year through engaging storytimes and fun money-themed activities,” said MFWN Founder Kelly Masters. “Our Owl + Otter books are filled with adorable woodland characters who problem solve, experience the value of teamwork, and learn about having a healthy relationship with money. I love this program! Partnerships such as the one with the MCUF and hundreds of libraries, schools, social service agencies and credit unions are the key to providing high-quality resources to Michiganders from all walks of life.”

The bookplate inside the front cover of each book indicates that the book is provided on behalf of Michigan credit unions with funding from MCUF.

2024 Participation and Reach: 16,000 books total

The original book development taskforce includes various perspectives, including children's book publisher, children's book author, youth librarian, credit union financial educator, early childhood educator, Library of Michigan, MCUF and the MFWN program coordinator.

Most libraries will hold in-person storytime and activity events for community preschool children. Supplemental activity resources have been developed and are provided to be used in conjunction with the storytime events to increase engagement with the story and provide financial education. These include coloring sheets, finger puppet plays, songs, rhymes, crafts and more.

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