In an effort to extend its community outreach, this spring Independent Bank initiated a new program for associates statewide to build excitement about teaching students about finances.

With the support of senior management, the marketing department launched the first annual “Financial Literacy Leadership Award” and created a friendly competition among seven regions statewide. As a reward, the region reaching the most students in their communities would receive the oversized silver traveling cup trophy to display at the winning offices. In addition, each participant in the winning region would receive an iron eagle lapel pin.

“Once the competition was launched, the offices immediately responded. It was awesome to see the competitive nature of all the associates as they worked toward raising the numbers and also toward winning the trophy,” said Tricia Lathrom, marketing specialist for Independent Bank.

In the spring of 2009, Independent Bank associates reached a total of 4,893 students through their financial literacy efforts. This spring, they more than tripled those numbers. Independent Bank associates reached 16,085 students and adults through their financial literacy efforts.

The result of the competition is that Independent Bank was pleased to show their communities that they are truly a community bank that cares. Independent Bank looks forward to reaching more people through its financial literacy efforts in the fall of 2010.

Independent Bank CEO Michael Magee Jr., is a strong proponent of financial literacy education. He encourages associates to reach community members by presenting nationally created programs, such as the ABA’s Teach Children to Save and Get Smart About Credit, and through customized presentations developed locally to meet the needs of any group interested in financial literacy.

Bank associates set out to educate young people, reaching students as young as kindergarten, with the hope that they will go into adulthood with a solid financial knowledge-base. Through community outreach, the bank seeks to help adults of all ages understand that it is never too late to gain control of finances and to understand money management principles. Associates are available to present on topics such as fraud and identity theft protection, understanding the cost of living, responsible use of credit, preparing for home ownership and more.

“Now more than ever, financial professionals have a responsibility to help customers, friends and neighbors plan for changes in family income and the economy as a whole,” said Magee. “We are eager to respond to the needs of people in our communities and are proactively seeking opportunities to educate people across the state about finances.

Interested groups are encouraged to contact their local Independent Bank office about financial literacy education. A complete list of locations can be found online at IndependentBank.com