On-site Learning Lab Supports School Children At MSUFCU

Employees can bring their kindergarten through eighth grade students to work at the credit union’s headquarters.

Mother (and father) was the necessity of invention at Michigan State University Federal Credit Union($5.4B, East Lansing, MI) as the new school year arrived this fall.

Silvia Dimma, Chief Human Resources Officer, Michigan State University FCU

To accommodate a critical need for employees’ families, MSUFCU has launched at its headquarters a proctored classroom for schoolchildren who otherwise would be stuck at home because of the pandemic.

Here, Silvia Dimma, chief human resources officer at MSUFCU, explains more about the Learning Labs now in place at the world’s largest university-sponsored credit union.

What was the idea behind Learning Labs?

Silvia Dimma:The Learning Labs are intended to be a safe and supportive environment to help children navigate their school day while their parents are working. We initiated them to assist a group of employees during a difficulttime caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have 231 people working fully or partially on-site at our headquarters. Some employees remained on-site throughout the pandemic to complete essential functions that could not be completed from home. We began gradually welcoming other employees backon-site in June.

When most schools in the Greater Lansing area announced they would conduct school online this fall, MSUFCU began exploring implementing Learning Labs to offer employees a safe and convenient place for their children to participate in virtual learning.

How did you determine the interest in such an offering?

SD:We distributed a survey to all employees in August to identify interest and other considerations, and within the survey, employees had the opportunity to include questions and comments. There was adequate interest indicated inthe survey to move forward with this project.

When did you open the Learning Labs and where are they located?

SD:The Learning Labs are located at the credit union’s headquarters and might be expanded to other locations if there is interest. The first one opened on Sept. 16. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

What age children can use it, and how will it be staffed and supervised?

SD:MSUFCU employees’ children between kindergarten and eighth grade may enroll in the Learning Labs. We group them together based on grade level and school district when possible.

Employees whose children are enrolled must work at the same site as the lab and must work on-site while their children are present.

We’ve partnered with a staffing firm that specializes in educational hiring to employ proctors to supervise the children on a contractual basis.


Data as of 06.30.20

HQ: East Lansing, MI
MEMBERS: 292,539
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 11.0%
ROA: 0.64%

How long do you plan to keep the Learning Labs open?

SD:We’ve not determined how long the Learning Labs will remain open. It will depend on interest and demand from employees. Nine children are currently enrolled.

What happens in the Learning Labs?

SD:A proctor helps the children work through their daily schedules, providing technical and some academic assistance. We’ve also set up a recreational space where children can enjoy their breaks, andproctors escort childrenbetween the Learning Labs and the rec space. The children may also play outside in designated areas in the headquarters’ backyard.

Proctors and children have badges to identify themselves. Children also have their parent’s picture and contact information on the badge.

What’s the cost to employees?

SD: Employees pay $50 each week per child to enroll in the Learning Labs. Parents must supply computer equipment, snacks, drinks, and lunch for their children.

How do you determine who is eligible?

SD:Eligibility is based on the child’s grade level, completion of the enrollment form, the health of the child each day if they are ill, they will not be able to attend.

How will you handle it if there is more demand than space?

SD:We will evaluate the need for more space as demand increases and determine if we can accommodate additional children.

What advice can you share with other credit unions about this project so far?

SD:Take steps to understand the needs of your employees. The survey was helpful in determining interest in the Learning Labs, and employees provided comments and questions that helped us develop a plan to move forward.

Based on that information, and our own research and creativity, we came up with a plan that would allow us to implement Learning Labs at several credit union locations if the demand were there.

This interview has been edited and condensed.


September 28, 2020

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