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Life Skills for Teens

Cooperative Federal's Youth Life Skills program provides financial education for young adults in Central New York. We offer a variety of classes and formats to provide hands-on, interactive learning experiences.

Getting a Strong Start

By building financial capability skills, we help young people become better informed, think critically about financial decision points, and practice key "life skills" like setting goals, making a budget and opening an account. Ultimately, these lessons make the transition from high school to indepedent living a little easier, whether the student is college-bound or heading straight into the workforce. 

Our Teachers

Cooperative Federal's educators are certified financial counselors with backgrounds as schoolteachers. These staff members are dedicated to crafting effective lessons, providing objective information, and empowering students to make the best possible decisions for themselves. 

Class Topics

Our Life Skills curriculum includes a series of lessons, which can be taught individually or combined into a course. 

  • Setting Financial Goals
  • Choosing a Bank or Credit Union
  • Budgeting and Money Management
  • Using Credit Wisely
  • Choosing a Cell Phone Plan
  • Buying Big Stuff (including cars)
  • Paying for College
  • Getting Out of Your Parents' House
  • Avoiding Scams

Lesson plans are constantly being adapted and enhanced based on classroom experience, new findings and updated resources. The 2013 edition of our curriculum is available for free or low cost to schools and non-profits.

Mad City Money

For high school students that have completed a series of Life Skills classes, CUNA's Mad City Money is an ideal culminating experience. This three-hour simulation applies the concepts students learned: 

Mad City Money™ gives youth a taste of the real world - complete with occupation, salary, spouse, student loan debt, credit card debt, and medical insurance payments. They make mistakes - and suffer the consequences of their decisions - in a realistic, but safe, environment. Once the shock wears off, they reevaluate choices and manage their money effectively. (Credit Union National Association*)

Students have fun walking through adult-life scenarios, and are often surprised by how much they learn from the experience. 

Cooperative Federal facilitates this event in schools and youth programs across CNY, in cooperation with other credit unions. 

The Savings Connection

In all of our classes, Cooperative Federal's instructors stress the importance of opening a savings account and consistently saving a portion of everything that a student earns. We know that the students we serve face many obstacles in life -- from college debt to lack of a living wage -- but by learning to save early and often, we believe young people can gain a measure of control and make the most of their circumstances. Our In School Savings Branches help to make this connection. 

Request a Class

Cooperative Federal teaches Life Skills classes in Syracuse high schools and in many after school programs. We've conducted classes with CNY Works, REACH CNY, ACR's Q Center, Salvation Army, Center for Community Alternatives, Onondaga Earth Corps, Southwest Community Center and many more.

If you'd like to bring Life Skills to your classroom or youth center, contact our Financial Education Department. There is a reasonable fee for each class session; in some cases grant assistance may be available. We can also collaborate with your organization to raise funds, or write letters of support for your grant applications.


*Cooperative Federal is not responsible for content on outside websites.