Independent Bank associates throughout Michigan are working with local community groups and schools to educate children and adults of all ages about the importance of money management, saving and financial responsibility.

In 2011, Independent Bank reached more than 14,000 individuals through its financial literacy efforts. The bank educated students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy through experiential, hands-on programs. Bank associates also worked with several local elementary schools to open school banks for the students where they can make deposits and learn how to save at a young age.

“Financial literacy is a huge focus within our organization and we feel it is important to reach out and give as much back to our communities as we can,” said Tricia Raquepaw, interim marketing director for Independent Bank.

The American Bankers Association Education Foundation announced that volunteer bankers have reached more than five million children through its Teach Children To Save program, which began in 1997. The foundation exceeded its goal of reaching five million children by the end of the program's fifteenth year by approximately 100,000 kids.

"The lack of financial education in this country puts young people at risk for costly financial mistakes and fraud," Fisher explained. "Our goal is to reverse that one child and one lesson at a time,” said Laura Fisher, executive director, ABA Education Foundation.

The Teach Children to Save program connects bankers with kids for savings education lessons. Independent Bank associates use their real-life experiences and their background knowledge to motivate students to become lifelong savers.

Independent Bank has created a page on IndependentBank.com for their Swift! savings account to encourage kids to start saving. Children and parents can learn more about the Swift! savings account on the Swift! savings account savings account page.

The annual Teach Children to Save Day is on April 24. 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.