First Independent Bank Volunteers Provide Financial Literacy and Life Skills to Juvenile Offenders

February 01, 2022

A recent project coordinated by two bankers at First Independent Bank's Fallon location took them into a world many have not experienced before. The meeting was not with clients but with teenagers who are trying to improve their lives and living in Teurman Hall, Churchill County's juvenile detention center. 

For many years, First Independent Bank has underwritten the cost of financial literacy lessons in public schools and with local community organizations. But due to the efforts of bankers Angela Rowan and Taylor Espinosa, these lessons are now happening in Teurman Hall for the very first time.

Rowan has taught students financial literacy and life skills for years due to her work with Junior Achievement of Northern Nevada (JANN), but the classes at Teurman Hall allow her to reach a new and critical audience.

Utilizing JANN's Career Success Program curriculum and providing their information on financial literacy, both bankers came away feeling they made an impact in the lives of these four students.

“It was gratifying to help these kids get answers to questions they have thought about for a while,” said Rowan. “I find it rewarding to be the person that can offer guidance about financial literacy and suggestions around career success. I’m hopeful that through this outreach we were able to provide them with the skills they can use in the future.”

"Some of the life skills we covered are vital to them as they prepare to build a better life," said Espinosa. "They've not had a mentor teaching them how to interview, how they should dress for an interview, how to be a critical thinker, and what an employer is looking for in an employee."

The students also learned tools to help them react to stress or anger and appropriately resolve conflict.

“I am so thankful to have a team at First Independent Bank that works to improve our community and is willing to give up their own time to make that happen,” said Jim DeVolld, managing director, commercial banking, First Independent Bank. “Financial literacy education is essential to all school-age children, and to know those in Teurman Hall now have access to it is a great accomplishment.”

There were some ground rules for the visit. As policy requires, Rowan and Espinosa placed their personal belongings (purses, cell phones and keys) in a secure area and then passed through a metal detector. The teaching and team-building materials brought into the facility by Rowan and Espinosa could not include anything that could be used as a weapon -  things like paper clips and staples. Although Rowan and Espinosa felt entirely comfortable with their four students, there was a detention officer in the room for each of the two-hour sessions; that's also policy.

Rowan says two of the four kids in detention had jobs before their incarceration. At least one had a savings account in the past. Focusing on the future, Espinosa helped them understand some of the banking procedures they will encounter, including how to open a bank account, what type of identification is required to do that, how to protect against fraud, and the rules regarding joint ownership of a bank account.

Based on feedback from the detention center, Rowan and Espinosa plan to continue their efforts in this unique environment. Their next class will focus on budgets, wants versus needs, and managing paychecks once released from detention.  

“I found the students to be very interested in what we were saying and actively listening to learn,” said Rowan. “I believe that we played a small part in helping them see a better future by providing them with skills they will need and utilize well into their adult lives. I look forward to continuing these lessons in Teurman Hall.”