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Best Community Bank Financial Literacy Programs

Feb. 11, 2013
Personal Finance
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In honor of Valentine’s Day, NerdWallet is highlighting ways your local community bank “loves” you. While community banks may not “love” you the way you love your significant other, many community banks do love their communities and want them to flourish, and they demonstrate this love by investing in local businesses. Another way they show their love is by helping their customers better understand the world of finance. They offer financial tips and tricks, as well as offering personal attention to customers, to give you the help you need in navigating your banking world.

NerdWallet Loves Financial Education

At NerdWallet, we love it when banks offer their customers free financial education, and we try to highlight it whenever we see it. We’ve gathered a list of truly special community banks that do their best to offer financial education resources to their communities. If you live or work near one of these community banks, make sure you visit and see how they can help you.

Pacesetter Bank – Hartford City, IN

Pacesetter Bank has teamed up with Harland Clarke to provide financial education resources for consumers of all ages with their Consumer Education Portal. You can read articles and click through slides that talk about financial security and offer tips for taking out loans, using credit cards and buying homes and cars. The Portal has basic features that offer beginners advice on investing, building credit and saving money. And for the kids, there is a Youth Education section that helps with the first steps of banking, like having a debit card and using a credit card wisely. Pacesetter Bank has offices in Hartford City, Upland, Montpelier, Dunkirk, Portland and Union City, Indiana.

Farmington Bank – Farmington, CT

To promote financial education and strength in youngsters, Farmington Bank partners with Junior Achievement to host “JA In A Day”, a full-day financial literacy program that teaches elementary school students about money management. Each year the program is offered to a local elementary school, and hundreds of students get the chance to kick-start an early appreciation for business and economics and develop helpful skills that will give them a leg-up in the world of finance. Farmington Bank has branches in Avon, Berlin, Bloomfield, Bristol, Burlington, Plainville, West Hartford, Farmington, Glastonbury, New Britain, South Windsor, Unionville and Southington, Connecticut.

Northwest Bank – Spencer, IA

Northwest Bank’s Financial Literacy Program offers students in Spencer and Spirit Lake, Iowa, the chance to take part in a web-based e-learning platform. The program uses many of the trappings of teen and young adult life, like social networking, animation, video and games, to help make financial concepts fun and interesting. The program offers certification in over 600 financial education topics and gives these students the opportunity to be more bank-smart. Northwest Bank is dedicated to making sure local students have their best foot forward when it comes to finance. Northwest Bank has 15 locations in Iowa and Nebraska.

PremierWest Bank – Medford, OR

PremierWest Bank’s Financial Answer Center has the answer to every question you could possibly have about banking or finance. It has sections for every stage of life, from paying for college to retirement. Each section offers informative articles, real-life stories from people facing financial obstacles, financial checklists to keep you prepared, downloadable “Quick Guides” and the opportunity to interact with a financial consultant. Whatever your circumstances are, check out their Financial Answer Center for the solution to your banking concerns. PremierWest Bank has 32 branches in California and Oregon.

Montecito Bank & Trust – Montecito, CA

Last October, Montecito Bank & Trust was honored by the American Bankers Association for its work in Financial Education. For the past 6 years, Montecito Bank & Trust has participated in the ABA sponsored Teach Children to Save Day, which offers lessons in saving, financial planning and money management designed to instill good financial habits in students. Montecito decided to go a step further and institute the Banking on our Youth program, a year-round financial education initiative for the local community. In partnership with local non-profits and schools, the bank developed financial education classes, including a Get Smart About Credit program, economics and marketing classes, and bilingual workshops for parents. The bank has devoted a tremendous amount of time to help local students learn about finance, and this shows that Montecito Bank & Trust truly cares for its community. Montecito Bank & Trust has offices in Santa Barbara, Montecito, Goleta, Carpinteria, Solvang, Ventura and Westlake Village, California.

M&F Bank – Kosciusko, MS

M&F Bank goes out of its way to help its customers develop better money management skills. They offer financial literacy classes to their communities on topics like Banking Basics, Budgeting, Savings, Credit, Loans, First Time Home Buyer, SBA Lending and more. Their free seminars take place monthly in the bank’s community. M&F Bank works with community organizations to bring financial education to as many people as possible. M&F Bank has 35 branches in Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama.

Merchants Bank – Burlington, VT

Merchants Bank has long been dedicated to the improvement of financial education in its communities. For more than a decade the bank has helped local consumers gain a better understanding of money management through the FDIC Money Smart classes.  Money Smart, for young adults, offers a range of financial literacy classes in topics including investment, home buying, credit and paying for college and cars. The bank also sponsors the Vermont Teachers Financial Literacy Summer Institute that offers teachers a graduate-level course in financial education, which they can then incorporate into their curriculum. Merchants Bank does a great job of making sure its community has the financial smarts it needs to succeed. Merchants Bank has 33 branches in Chittenden County, and Northern and Southern Vermont.

Anderson Brothers Bank – Mullins, SC

Anderson Brothers Bank hopes to show you the map to a better financial future with their Checking Navigator tool. Through two main subjects, Money Terms and Managing Your Account, they give you all the financial know-how you need to point yourself towards a more successful future. Money Terms helps you talk the talk by understanding financial terms you may run into on a bank statement, while Managing Your Account walks you through the general process of having and maintaining a checking account. Anderson Brothers Bank also provides a helpful LifeStages section of their website that offers financial advice for every stage of life. Anderson Brothers Bank has 20 locations in Eastern South Carolina.

County National Bank – Hillsdale, MI

County National Bank keeps up with the technology of today. Their blog has news, community sales, information on the FDIC and an informative financial education section. They have articles that help customers understand the complicated and scary problem of medical identity theft, confront the issue of privacy on social networking sites and help you better understand how your credit score works. You’ll find valuable financial information that will better prepare you for the future. County National Bank has offices in Hanover, Hillsdale, Homer, Hudson, Jackson, Jonesville, Litchfield, Somerset and Spring Arbor, Michigan.

Sandy Spring Bank – Olney, MD

Sandy Spring Bank has been bringing financial literacy to its communities for over 25 years. They believe that it’s never too early to start learning about basic money management, and maintaining and developing strong financial skills is important to a successful adult life. They offer tips and tools for saving and managing credit. And their In-School Banking program takes financial concepts right into the classroom. Kids organize and operate a school branch, learning the basics of bank management. Sandy Spring Bank is dedicated to seeing even their youngest community members learn vital finance skills. Sandy Spring Bank has 49 branches in Northern Virginia and Maryland.

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