Detroit Pistons partner with Zelle, local nonprofit to improve financial literacy

Programs directed at youth to teach financial concepts, protecting identity in digital banking world

Zelle has partnered with the Detroit Pistons to help fund efforts to improve financial literacy among youth. Pictured (left to right): Alexis Castorina, head of consumer education at Zelle; Josh Fajardo, senior director of brand marketing at Zelle; Crystal Smith, vice president of philanthropy at Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan; and Jason Lee, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan. Photo provided by Zelle. (Zelle)

DETROIT – In hopes of addressing a financial literacy deficit by working directly with young adults, the Detroit Pistons have partnered with Zelle to offer educational resources to encourage smart and safe banking practices.

Digital payment network and platform Zelle has taken an interest in the city of Detroit on its mission to help young people learn key financial concepts and principles that can help keep their money and identity safe in a world of online banking.

In partnership with EVERFI, Zelle created a free digital course for high school students to learn the basics of banking and how to protect themselves from identity theft and fraud. The program, called Money Moves: Modern Banking and Identity Protection, is available for educators to offer their students. About 100,000 students are already taking this online course, according to Alexis Castorina, head of consumer education at Zelle.

Click here to learn more about the Money Matters course.

Once the Detroit Pistons heard about the Money Matters course and Zelle’s work with financial education, the team wanted to get involved at the local level, Castorina said. The NBA team has been involved in financial literacy advocacy in the past.

“Financial education is the foundation to prosperity. We created two programs with the Pistons called ‘Invest in Yourself’ and ‘Protect What Matters’ to empower the Detroit community with information on how modern banking works,” Castorina said.

The Pistons have since partnered with Zelle to create videos “showcasing Detroit Pistons players and their personal experiences with money management and digital banking safety.” Players like Rodney McGruder and Isaiah Stewart star in the Invest in Yourself videos, explaining what it means to them to invest in themselves and why it’s important.

Together, the group’s goal is to “help Detroit’s community invest in their financial future and learn how to protect themselves from fraud and scams.”

“Even the savviest person can become a victim of a scam,” Castorina said. “Education is key to protecting yourself. Working with the Pistons is one vital way we’re helping to increase financial literacy while providing community resources to help the people of Detroit stay safe when sending and receiving money.”

The Pistons and Zelle have also partnered with a local nonprofit to further fund financial literacy programming for Metro Detroit youth. For every block made by a Detroit Pistons player during the 2021-2022 season, a $25 donation was set aside for nonprofit Junior Achievement of Southeastern Michigan.

On Friday, April 8, the Pistons and Zelle presented JA of Southeastern Michigan with a check for $10,000 to aid their financial literacy programming. The nonprofit works with children and teaches them skills needed to “own their economic success, plan for their future, and make smart academic and economic choices.”

Related: Experts warn of scammers on mobile payment apps

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.