It’s a rainy Tuesday at Thurgoood Marshall Academy and inside, the hallways are flooding with students on their way to class and work.

“It’s not just an excitement for the school. It’s an excitement for the community,” said Principal Sandye Johnson.

That’s because Capital One opened a bank inside the school. Its employees are all high school students. Today on duty are Michael, Matthew and Wilson.

This is the first real job for these three. It’s also the first time they’ve learned about the importance of financial education.

Mathew Reyes explained, “I didn’t have a bank account. This job gave me the knowledge to know that a bank account was actually necessary.”

He’s not alone. According to some studies, fewer than half of all high school seniors can pass a basic financial literacy course. That number drops to below 30 percent when those students have parents that make less than $80,000 a year. Numbers like that make many hope that programs like the bank at Thurgood Marshall Academy in Harlem, will help students with much more than just schoolwork.

“When I got in the program, we had to do presentations. We had to know what we were talking about. When I brought that back to school I was doing the same thing, just for a different subject,” recalls senior Michael Booker.

The improvement was huge for him.

“Before he got into the program, his overall average was a 55. Once he got into the program, he brought that up to a 90 percent,” said Johnson.

There are two other banks like this in northeast high schools. Students spend a summer taking certification courses and then rotate working at the bank three days a week. Their customers are faculty and students.

Now that these young bankers are educating their classmates on the same stuff they learned in their courses, paying it forward has a whole new meaning.

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