Hiram – Hiram College and Cardinal Credit Union marked the opening of a full-service credit union branch on campus through a grand opening celebration at the college’s Kennedy Center. State Rep. Dave Joyce, state Sen. John Eklund and Hiram Mayor Lou Bertrand joined Hiram College President, Lori Varlotta, Ph.D., Hiram College President Emeritus Tom Chema and Cardinal President and CEO Christine Blake in the official ribbon- cutting ceremony after students celebrated the grand opening with games like the “Grab and Save” money booth and “Putt for Bucks,” which allowed them to earn start-up money for their new bank accounts.

The credit union branch is part of a strategic financial education partnership forged by the organizations.

Serving as the cornerstone of a disciplined, integrated financial literacy education program, the branch provides exposure to a not-for-profit financial cooperative with a strong emphasis on saving and responsible money management and opportunities for one-on-one financial counseling. Cardinal is also collaborating with Hiram educators to author financial literacy content and potentially be part of in-class lectures and collaborative teaching. It will also host seminars, lunch-and learn workshops and other events.

“Students who are exposed to financial education during college are better prepared for life outside of the classroom,” said Cardinal CEO Christine Blake. “Learning how to manage their finances early on is a critical part of their long-term success.”

Staffed by student volunteers under the close supervision of Cardinal management, the branch is open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. on Wednesdays and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Thursdays, with the possibility of the hours expanding as demand for the branch’s services increases. The branch provides student volunteers with an opportunity to develop career, math and marketing skills in a financial retail setting. Broader internship opportunities with Cardinal will also be available to student volunteers, potentially providing a pipeline of future employees for the Credit Union.

“We are living in an age when it’s more important than ever for college students to have financial literacy skills,” said Elizabeth Okuma, M.Ed., vice president and dean of students at Hiram College. “By partnering with Cardinal Credit Union, we can give students an opportunity to learn about and apply these skills in a low-risk but very real environment, while also providing the campus community with a valuable and convenient service. The partnership will also connect students to hands-on learning opportunities and internships — which is especially beneficial given that accounting is our most popular major.”

Hiram College joins Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio as one of two colleges housing a branch of Cardinal Credit Union.