In the near corner, wearing green trunks with a white stripe, weighing in at $158 million dollars is DOWNEY FEDERAL CREDIT UNION.  DFCU was founded in 1957 and serves 13000 of the people who live, work, worship, or go to school in Downey, California; and immediate relations of current members.  

In the far corner, wearing a Superman shirt and black cargo shorts, weighing in at $.16, the Willer from Manilla (envelopes), the Fighter for Finance education, both the Wil and the way– WIL STANTON of FINANCE FOR YOUTH.

We wanted Editor Eric Pierce of the Downey Patriot to act as an impartial referee, but Mr. Pierce is apparently too busy working the city desk of said newspapers to even respond to calls.  So, given that I’m a fair guy and this is my website, I’ll be acting as referee.  Don’t worry, I’ll be fair.

 

Friends, you all remember when I finally completed FINANCE FOR YOUTH: THE BOOK (which you can get from LULU.COM for 25% off retail price for the month of October in celebration of my birthday).  Well, I put out a press release that was slightly edited and printed in the aforementioned Downey Patriot.  This is the text as it appears on the Downey Patriot:

DOWNEY – Wil Stanton, a Downey resident and substitute teacher in Orange County, used to work in finance, helping young people learn the basics that weren’t being taught in schools.

After years of trying to manage the unrealistic expectations of young people who didn’t have the resources to help them become financially literate, Stanton gave up. Leaving banking, he became a teacher in order to verify that his worst fear was true: teens are not given adequate tools to help them learn about financial basics.

Stanton’s new book, “Finance For Youth: The Book,” brings important topics like finding a job and buying a car to young people “in their own language.”

The government regulates interest rates, loan eligibility and almost every other facet of personal finance, but when it comes to teaching future generations – they get some cheerleader from the local bank,” Stanton said. “It’s no surprise that all of their answers start and end with people having to go into the branch for more information.”

Stanton’s book is available on Lulu.com.

**********

Published: September 2, 2010 – Volume 9 – Issue 20

 

That’s all of it.  so far, not much of a fight.  In fact, nothing here can be debated as untrue as far as I know.  However, sitting in a darkened office, apparently lacking anything else better to do, management of DFCU reads this minor piece and panics.  There is no way that someone can write a book that helps families deal with financial issues because it interferes with our seminars. (I’ll be honest here, I don’t know this is the case.  I’m just trying to figure out any scenario where this press release warrants personal attention from a credit union.  If I’m getting it wrong, someone correct me.) and besides, didn’t Wil used to work here?  How dare he get out and beome successful?  Release the machine (well, the marketing machine of DFCU which boils down to Ms. Marianne Noss)!

 
The machine (Ms. Noss) quickly fires back a response in the form of a letter to the editor (well, when I say quickly, I mean like over a month later) to defend the honor of the besmirched credit union (how they were besmirched when nobody has even heard of Downey Federal Credit Union and there never was any mention of Downey Federal Credit Union in the story baffles me, but there you have it).  Here is her response.
 

Dear Editor:

This letter is in response to Wil Stanton’s financial literacy activities and new book “Finance for Youth: the Book” appearing in the Sep. 2, 2010 issue of The Downey Patriot.

His new book details financial information for teens who want to buy a new car or look for a new job. Wil claims that the government regulates facets of personal finance, such as interest rates and loan eligibility, but does not teach future generations. He states, “…they get some cheerleader from the local bank. And that is why all of their answers start with people having to go into the branch for more information.”

First, the basic principle of credit unions is that they exist for the well being of the members and potential members they serve. One activity that credit unions do very well is to educate members about financial matters to help them become more financially literate.

Serving Downey for over 50 years, Downey Federal Credit Union is no exception to the distribution of financial information. In addition to providing free financial workshops on a variety of topics such as identity theft, credit scores, and budgeting, DFCU has created a position at the credit union dedicated to educating school-aged children in the Downey schools, and community members at large. This is NOT a “cheerleader” position. The person who teaches the classes is our Community Education and Development Representative, Kari Johnson, an employee who is knowledgeable and who provides financial education on a practical level. She has made well over 100 presentations to classes and community groups over the last two years.

Elementary school children learn about saving, spending, and sharing their money. Middle school children learn about the true cost of spending habits and basic budgeting skills. From interactive assemblies and films, the students learn realistic money habits. For teens, Ms. Johnson has taught many classes at Downey and Warren High Schools, going over basic financial facts such as the difference between a debit and a credit card, how to obtain credit, how to write a check, and how to reconcile a checkbook. Students have learned basic financial literacy in these interactive workshops.

Downey Federal Credit Union also sponsors a program entitled: “Making the Right Money Moves” for teachers. The teaching materials, the instructor’s guide, and the student workbook are all provided by DFCU. Teachers can use the guided curriculum in their classrooms to teach high school students how to manage their money, whether they are working or not. This knowledge will enable any teen to manage their finances once they finish school, go on to college or enter the workforce. As an added bonus, the character traits of Responsibility and Citizenship from the “Character Counts!” program can be incorporated into financial literacy education.

At Downey Federal Credit Union, we encourage people to come into the branch to find out more about our products and services. Our tag line, “Count On Us Through All Stages Of Life,” promotes the openness we have towards community members of all ages to grow with the credit union. We want people to become more financially literate whether they are an elementary school, middle school, or teen student; an adult, or a senior citizen. And, credit unions, such as DFCU, do indeed teach future generations.

Furthermore, teaching future generations is an ongoing process, with people starting at a young age, and moving towards senior citizens. At DFCU, we take pride in providing financial education of all types to improve financial literacy. Although we provide financial education to students and community members at large, we realize that people learn at their own pace over time. One book may not have the ability to provide a competent level of financial literacy in our environment today.

In summary, DFCU is doing its part in Downey to provide the much-needed financial education teens and all age groups need to be financially educated. Financial education is one of our initiatives, and we will continue to carry it forward.

— Marianne Noss,

Marketing Manager

Downey Federal Credit Union

**********

Published: October 7, 2010 – Volume 9 – Issue 25

 

Ding!  Wow!  A knock-out blow from Downey Federal.  Wil’s still standing, but what a round!  But wait a minute.  They didn’t seem to disagree with Wil.  They seem to be saying, “Well, yes, he’s right about everything he is saying, but we are doing something completely unrelated.”  But then they do something interesting.  For some reason, they mention Kari Johnson.  For those who don’t remember who Kari Johnson is, Finance For Youth was one of several sponsors for Ms. Johnson’s run for Miss California back in 2007.  Ms. Johnson is a friend of mine.  Why she was ever brought into this fray, I will never understand.

 
 
Round One Recap:  Downey Federal Credit Union came out swinging, but the only one hit was one of their own.  They attacked before the bell rang and hit one of their best assets.  Round One goes to FINANCE FOR YOUTH:

This time it’s my turn.  First, several friends and friends I haven’t met yet have commented on the online version of the Downey Patriot.  Their comments all mention that DFCU is acting in a manner that is self-serving and petty.  I appreciate their work.

I submitted a letter in rebuttal to the Downey Patriot.  I feel that it is only fair that given the tone and tenor of the attack from Downey Federal Credit Union, and given that they are a multi million dollar company while I am teacher who doesn’t know what classroom I’ll be working in from day-to-day, that I have the opportunity to respond in kind.  My letter was not printed in this week’s edition.

I’ve made several calls to Mr. Eric Pierce the editor of the Downey Patriot, as well as Jennifer DeKay-Givens, the publisher.  These calls have inexplicably been unanswered and no response to the simple question of why has been provided.  One can only assume that Downey FCU pays more in advertising than I do so they get the bully pulpit of the Downey Patriot.

I have made a response on their online version:

SAVE THE CHEERLEADER…,

Apparently it is the policy of the Downey Patriot to allow local businesses to make personal attacks against citizens without allowing a fair opportunity for rebuttal. I called Editor Eric Pierce for clarification on this policy, but received no response. This is troubling, but not enough to stop me from responding to the irresponsible letter from October 7, 2010.

I feel the need to respond to the blindside attack from Marianne and her financial institution. I mean, wow! Reaching much? Way to snatch an event from the jaws of nothingness. For the record, I know Marianne and I know Kari. In fact, I believed we were all friends during the two years that we worked together. Also for the record, when I’m talking about cheerleaders, I don’t think of Kari. I think of Kari like a little sister, and I am appalled that her company would throw her under the bus and try to garner a little free publicity as they have done. Either Marianne acted alone or under direction of her executive management. I don’t know for a fact which is correct, and frankly I don’t care. I think the membership of this financial institution and the community should demand that CEO Barbara Lamberth publicly apologize to Kari for making her the focus of this distasteful swipe.

Now, as to the “substance” to Marianne’s letter, I can see that it is obvious that she hasn’t read FINANCE FOR YOUTH: THE BOOK (available from Amazon.com, on sale for a limited time from Lulu.com, or at WWW.FINANCE4YOUTH.COM). If she had, she would know that I don’t attack credit unions or banks. I present both options as viable for young peoples’ financial needs. It is equally obvious that my criticism struck a nerve that the institution felt a need to address. I’m glad that they do seminars. Seminars serve as one more tool to help people gain financial literacy. But to say that a seminar sponsored by a financial institution is equivalent to financial education is like saying that playing Grand Theft Auto is equivalent to Driver’s Education.

The real issue is that even today, only four states require at least one semester of financial education for high school students, and California isn’t on that list. The real issue is that as much as 75% of young adults lack the skills to make beneficial financial decisions according to the Jump$tart Coalition, a leading financial education advocacy group. Instead of gunning for a teacher about what is and what isn’t education, they should join me in advocating that California makes age-appropriate financial education throughout the K-12 system mandatory.

Finally, Marianne says her company has been in existence for over 50 years and cares that the membership grows with the credit union. I’m glad they want the members to do well. So do I. Of course I want people to do well no matter where they bank.

Sincerely,

William J. Stanton

Finance For Youth

Next, I want to bring FINANCE FOR YOUTH: THE BOOK to financial institutions.  Unlike the management team of Downey’s Credit Union, I don’t feel like I’m in competition with them.  I believe we all have an important job to do and I welcome any help that gets families talking about finance and learning. 
I don’t know how this round will end yet, nor do I know who will end up being the winner of the whole match.  I’m just a referee, you are the judges.
Because this whole situation is strange to me, and because of the whole fight thing, I can think of only one video worthy of closing this post.  Please enjoy!

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Comments
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Wil Stanton and Wil Stanton, Wil Stanton. Wil Stanton said: Downey Federal Credit Union vs. Finance For Youth: The Book: http://wp.me/p1C7C-8V […]

  2. Nicole says:

    This sounds like a personal problem between you and the bank…as a reader of The Downey Patriot I would not want to see your rebuttal in the newspaper. I really did not care for DFCU’s letter to the editor either. You are both doing awesome things for the youth, finance wise and that is a great thing! No need for all of this nonsense.

    • Wil says:

      Nicole:

      Thank you for your comment. I can understand you not wanting to read a rebuttal. I can appreciate how you didn’t want to read the original letter. However, I would hope you can see that unsubstantiated attacks like the one from DFCU should not go unanswered. We live in a world where the individual is constantly set aside for the company, the union, the government, or the group. I hope people don’t forget that they have value and power as individuals, and not just as anonymous parts of a larger collective.

      Thank you for reading.

    • Agree.

      Downey’s press release masquerading as a letter-to-the-editor was bitter and defensive. It makes them look bad. They shouldn’t have written it, the paper shouldn’t have published it and you shouldn’t have responded. It’s looking like a race to the bottom.

      • Wil says:

        Jeffry:

        Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I respect your opinion on this. I happen to feel that to allow them to go without response would be weak on my part and would encourage people to believe the lies being told about me. I am hopeful that this is settled now and we can all go back to whatever it is that we do.

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  8. Joe Arias says:

    there really is so much that they do not teach you in school in regards to financial literacy I have no idea how many sonnets I have had to write in the real world but learning about credit and compound interest have been something I wish I started learing in 6th grade

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