ABA Banking Journal - July 2007 - (Page 20)
Community Banking Pass the Aspirin returns next month. See past “Aspirins,” and special contests, at www.passtheaspirinplus.com T he busy season for the Stuart, who runs Yarmouth college scholarship proEducational Consultants, gram is over now, but Yarmouth, Me. (www.yecinc. Donna Petrocco and her cocom), supports Valley Bank’s horts at Valley Bank & Trust program in numerous ways. are already preparing for the He contributes two newsletfall field trip to a college camters, the weekly “All About pus for the 80 third, fourth, College,” and the monthly and fifth graders who received “52 College Questions.” college scholarships from the They are e-mailed to parents bank this spring. of students who have particiCollege scholarships for pated in the bank’s programs third graders? and distributed in the branch“People raise their eyees. Stuart also makes four to brows when they hear how five trips to Brighton each young the kids are in our proyear to meet with customer gram,” says Petrocco, presifamilies individually, condent and chief operating offiducts in-school workshops, cer. “But it gets kids and their and makes the arrangements families talking about college with a college for the bank’s early.” Middle school, she fall visitation with students. adds, is a tough time to talk Last fall, Valley Bank took 50 with kids, and high school is scholarship recipients to Colalmost too late to start talking orado State for the day. about college. It’s not about numbers The bank’s college education Stuart says that over six years, program, now in its sixth year, more than 4,000 students and requires participants to write parents have learned about an essay on what might make a colleges, college majors, cagreat career, and how to get How, and why, one bank helps youngsters reer opportunities, and finanthere. “You get a lot saying cial aid from Valley Bank’s vets, astronauts, and—thanks become eager to go to college program. The bank helps to TV’s CSI series—crime families estimate what college scene investigators,” says will cost them and how much they might hope to receive in fiPetrocco. “Some mention a specific college they want to attend.” This year about 750 students signed up for the program, and nancial aid, says Stuart, not just how expensive college can be. about 80 received $100 scholarships. “It’s not really a lot of More importantly, the program helps students and parents money, but it is to an eight-year-old,” says Petrocco. “We en- make smart choices about their college opportunities to maxicourage them to put it in a CD and add to it with money earned mize the return on their investment in education. The bank prepares certificates for the scholarship recipients, from mowing lawns or birthdays.” The scholarships are only part of this unusual bank-run pro- and arranges for a pizza party for them at the school. All particgram. Providing information and stimulating interest in college ipants in the program also get a free tee shirt. Three bank employees read all the essays—about 750 this among youngsters and their parents is equally important. Petrocco became a believer in promoting college education year—and grade them. Petrocco has been in charge of the proafter meeting with Bob Stuart, a college advisor, who called on gram herself from the start. Stuart maintains that personal comValley Bank in 2001. She liked his program, and contracted mitment from the top is vital for such a program to succeed. with him to work with the bank, seeing it as a great way to This year, a new Director of Marketing has been helping reach out to kids and their families. Valley Bank & Trust has 14 Petrocco manage the program, which is busiest in the period of January through March. locations and assets of $260 million. With a marketing director, Petrocco says the bank can do a By Bill Streeter, editor in chief better job of tracking the impact of the program. Anecdotally Raising college interest rates 20 JULY 2007/ABA BANKING JOURNAL www.ababj.com/subscribe.html
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