The Texas Bankers Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Texas Bankers Association, presented the annual Cornerstone and Leaders in Financial Education (LiFE) awards to banks at a special virtual video presentation on December 3.
The Cornerstone Award recognizes excellence in community involvement by Texas banks. The following banks were honored with the 2020 Cornerstone Award.
Houston-based CommunityBank of Texas NA received a Cornerstone Award for its “Families Feeding Families” event. The program, which is coordinated by the bank’s Tomball branch and others in the Tomball community, started in 2010. The first event provided 500 hot meals to low-to-moderate-income individuals the day before Thanksgiving. Recognizing there was a vastly underserved segment of the community, the event has continued and grown through the years. In 2019, 2,200 people were fed, including meals delivered to nursing homes, assisted living facilities and door to door in an impoverished Tomball community. Flu shots, haircuts, a clothing and food pantry, kid’s entertainment and games, and financial and literacy resources were also provided.
Gilmer-based First National Bank of East Texas, formerly First National Bank of Gilmer, received a Cornerstone Award for its “Chromebooks for Success” program. Understanding that the financial strain of college can be difficult for some students and their families, the bank decided to identify deserving students and award them with a new Chromebook to assist them in earning a college degree. The selection of the students was based on grades, financial need and enrollment in a dual-credit program to receive college credit while finishing high school. The bank donated a total of 49 laptops during the 2018–19 school year to students in the 10 school districts. The bank believes this program will help these students who want to improve their communities by improving themselves.
Killeen-based First National Bank Texas received a Cornerstone Award for its contribution to the “14-Forward” initiative. In 2018, the bank joined the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce and other local businesses to launch this new economic development initiative. The initiative has three goals: to enhance employment opportunities in high-growth industries; support partnerships that are mutually beneficial for local businesses and the U.S. Army at Fort Hood; and invest in the infrastructure in Killeen. The bank’s contribution to the initiative has been as one of the primary funders, committing $200,000 with a matching challenge to other local banks. Employees of the bank are also serving on the initiative’s board and committees.
Carthage-based First State Bank and Trust Co. received a Cornerstone Award for establishing the Chris Dickerson Memorial Scholarship at Panola College. After Panola County Sheriff’s Deputy Dickerson was killed in the line of duty, the bank wanted to honor the sacrifice first responders and their families make to ensure the community’s safety and to honor the life and service of Deputy Dickerson. The scholarship will be awarded annually to a Panola College student who is a current first responder or a dependent of a first responder. First State Bank and Trust Co. felt that establishing a scholarship would be a great way to offer support for generations to come.
Midland-based FirstCapital Bank of Texas received a Cornerstone Award for its annual “Christmas with Bonham” event. FirstCapital Bank team members are encouraged to get involved with different community events and organizations. One such partnership is with Bonham Elementary in Midland, where the bank has provided the school with resources and volunteers for many years. The annual holiday-themed event is held at the bank’s West branch, which is decorated for the celebration. The children are always excited to be greeted by team members dressed as elves, snowmen and other Christmas characters. The children receive complimentary pictures with Santa. The event brings true joy to the families, many of whom attend it every year, making it a family tradition.
North Dallas Bank (NDB) received a Cornerstone Award for its “NDB Cares” program. An employee-led initiative, it was launched in 2019 to bring a more formalized and strategic approach to the bank’s service efforts. The vision statement for NDB Cares is, “Fulfilling our mission through care and community service.” From efforts as simple as volunteering time to support winter coat drives to making instrumental monetary contributions to organizations devoted to improving the community, NDB Cares has helped improve stewardship of the bank’s resources so more can be achieved. It also lets the community know that the banking industry is comprised of capable, caring and compassionate people who make service a priority in their lives.
Tyler-based Southside Bank received a Cornerstone Award for its retail banking internship program. Tyler ISD’s Career & Technology Center allows high school students to explore a variety of career pathways, but the program had limited opportunities in a business or finance pathway. In 2019, the bank partnered with the school district to launch its internship program. During the 16-week program, interns complete a minimum of 100 working hours alongside a Southside Bank mentor. The interns attend training at the corporate training office and visit several of the bank’s departments. One of the goals of the program is for students to be equipped to transition seamlessly out of high school and into the workforce. Two of the interns received an employment offer from the bank.
The Leaders in Financial Education (LiFE) Award honors Texas banks that are dedicated leaders in promoting financial education in their communities.
Dallas-based Comerica Bank received a LiFE Award for its partnership with The EMPOWER Series, a free monthly financial education and self-development coaching and counseling program. Each month, experts address a financial education or an empowerment topic and share their testimony of overcoming adversity to achieve their goals. The series topics include improving money management decisions, financial literacy and helping people become better stewards of their resources: ideas, time, relationships and money. The series was so well received in Dallas in 2018 that Comerica launched a Greater Houston versuib in partnership with the Houston Urban League in 2019. In the fall of 2019, the EMPOWER Series introduced a podcast series.
First National Bank of Shiner received a LiFE Award for its “100th Day of School” event. For the past five years, the bank has invited the kindergarten and first-grade classes to celebrate their 100th day of the school year with a visit to the bank. The students visit different financial literacy stations that have been set up based on their grade level. Stations include needs versus wants; spend, save, give; savings accounts; setting a savings goal; counting money; what 100 coins look like; and skip counting. After visiting the stations, students are taken behind the scenes of the bank, where they learn basic financial literacy and how each department within the bank operates. The bank believes teaching the kids in this age group will produce financially responsible adults in the future.
Killeen-based First National Bank Texas received a LiFE Award for its partnership with the Dallas LIFE homeless shelter. In 2016, First Convenience Bank, a division of the bank, began the partnership at the prompting of a customer. What is unique about the shelter is its “New Life Program,” a 10-month program that includes four phases to prepare residents for life beyond homelessness. The bank supports the financial wellness component of the program. First Convenience Bank employees say that they have been just as impacted by the program as their students and seek other opportunities to help with needs at the shelter. In 2019, the bank donated $5,000 to Dallas LIFE to support the construction of an on-site daycare facility.
Dallas-based TBK Bank SSB received a LiFE Award for its partnership with a local nonprofit organization, Ascendant Community Education, to provide fraud prevention education for senior adults. Presentations covered a few common types of scams the attendees might fall victim to and how to respond if they are a victim of fraud. Types of safety protocols banks have in place to protect their customers and the risks associated with establishing a power of attorney and signs of caregiver abuse were also discussed. After the event, TBK Bank shared the presentation curriculum internally for team members in other markets to use in providing elder financial protection curriculum in their communities.
El Paso-based WestStar Bank received a LiFE Award for its support of Junior Achievement of the Desert Southwest. For the past 16 years, the bank has provided team members to serve on the organization’s board. Bank employees have taught Junior Achievement classes in schools throughout El Paso County. Their commitment to supporting financial literacy programs is critical to supporting the development of students, especially in low-to-moderate-income schools. The bank is very involved in the organization’s two signature fundraising events each year, the El Paso Business Hall of Fame Banquet and the Bowl-a-thon. The bank has been the title sponsor of the banquet since 2017 and in 2019, WestStar fielded 38 Bowl-a-thon teams and raised $47,207.
Serving Texas banks since 1885, the Texas Bankers Association is the largest and oldest state bankers association in the nation.