Capital One shuts down student-run bank branch in Md. high school

Students at Parkdale High School in Riverdale, Maryland, can no longer open a Capital One bank account on their way to the cafeteria.

Capital One built a new branch within the Prince George’s County public school in 2014, staffed by 10 student interns, as a way to increase financial literacy and prepare students for success in their future careers.

“The prototype they set for us: they would hire 10 high school seniors in the spring of their junior year, spend the summer training them to work as tellers and to give them professional development,” said Susan Bistransin, the instructor who supervised Parkdale High School’s student workers. “During their senior year, they would operate the in-school branch that Capital One built and provided at each school.”

Capital One employees served as managers at the in-school banks, which were open for limited hours during the school day, and whose customers were limited to on-site students, teachers and staff. In addition to the Parkdale location, Capital One had three branches at schools in New York and New Jersey.

“Capital One was a real bank at Parkdale High School,” said Bistransin. “It was set up exactly like the branch — it had the FDIC signs and everything.”

The school-based banks were popular with students who opened and maintained accounts, as well as student tellers.

“The tagline for the bank was, ‘You can open a savings account with a dollar and your student ID,'” said Bistransin.

In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic arrived.

“When the school shut down, the bank obviously couldn’t operate,” said Bistransin.

Now, Capital One has determined the in-school branches won’t reopen, reports the Washington Business Journal.

“After assessing our student bank branch program, we realized that despite the program’s positive impact, there is opportunity to re-envision our approach to reach an even broader audience in these school communities,” the company wrote in a statement to the WBJ. The statement did not describe potential future partnerships.

Bistransin said the decision was disappointing because the program provided valuable experience.

“The impetus for the program was not training you to be a bank teller, it was giving you the transferable skills to be successful in life,” said Bistransin. “I have several of my (former in-school) bankers who are still working for Capital One and several of them have moved up in the ranks.”

Bistransin is now the financial education and empowerment coordinator for Prince George’s County Public Schools.

The school system will be looking for other ways to provide guidance to students to ensure they’re financially empowered and prepared to enter careers.

“You need to network, you need to be well-spoken, you need to be well-dressed — all the soft skills that we look for in business,” Bistransin said.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up