ABA: Six Banks Honored with Community Commitment Award

WASHINGTON — The American Bankers Association has recognized six banks for their noteworthy corporate social responsibility with a 2015 ABA Community Commitment Award. The awards, sponsored by the ABA Foundation, were given to banks for their endeavors in categories ranging from affordable housing to community and economic development. Winners will be presented with their award at ABA’s Annual Convention in Los Angeles on Nov. 10.

The ABA selection committee, which includes national experts in each category, chose six banks from a record-high field of nearly 200 entries. Winners were selected based on the creativity and replicability of programs that embody the ideals of corporate social responsibility and demonstrate success in measurable terms.
“This year’s recipients have performed impressive and impactful work,” said Frank Keating, ABA president and CEO. “Their extraordinary efforts have helped not only the customers and communities they serve, but the industry as a whole.”
The 2015 award winners are:
Affordable Housing
  • HomeStreet Bank, Seattle for its Hometown Home Loan program, which provides the employees of over 150 public- and private-sector partner organizations with comprehensive financial education, down payment assistance and reduced closing costs. Since 1994, the program has helped thousands of first-time and low to moderate-income employees of its partner organizations become homeowners.
Community and Economic Development
  • Banco Popular, San Juan, P.R. for its Echar Pa’lante program, which is helping to retool the human capital of Puerto Rico and establish the foundation for long-term growth. The program’s snowball effect is steadily transforming the island’s entrepreneurial and education ecosystems into an economic development powerhouse.
Financial Education
  • Old National Bank, Evansville, Ind. for its 12 Steps to Financial Success program. The program empowers at-risk adults, specifically those incarcerated for non-violent offenses, to take control of their future and achieve financial success. The program not only empowers participants with financial knowledge, but also encourages them to empower others once they re-enter society.
Nontraditional Borrower and Underbanked
  • BankPlus, Ridgeland, Miss. for CreditPlus, its small-dollar lending program that educates Mississippians about how credit works and helps them improve their credit scores. Since 2008, over 22,000 Mississippians have attended CreditPlus seminars. BankPlus has provided over 21,000 loans totaling more than $16 million.
Protecting Older Americans
  • First Financial Bank, Abilene, Texas for its Financial Exploitation Education program.  Through partnerships with law enforcement, community organizations, and employee training, First Financial Bank has helped protect vulnerable senior citizens in its communities. Its bankers regularly provide workshops and their efforts, to date, have prevented losses in excess of $1 million.
  • Inland Bank & Trust, Oak Brook, Ill. for its Road to Recovery program, which provides paid time off and mileage reimbursement for employees to volunteer with the American Cancer Society and drive cancer patients to and from treatment appointments.
In addition to the six bank awards, the ABA Foundation will present the George Bailey Distinguished Service Award, which is given to a non-CEO bank employee who demonstrates outstanding initiative, commitment to their customers and community and inspires others. This year’s recipient is Ben Joergens, financial empowerment officer of Old National Bank in Evansville, Ind. In 2014, Joergens reached more than 5,000 individuals through 144 financial education presentations. He partnered with 27 different non-profits, schools and universities, including at-risk groups like the Henderson County Detention Center’s Substance Abuse Program.
All entries for this year’s Community Commitment Awards will be added to the ABA Foundation’s Banks In Their Communities interactive map. The map showcases the corporate social responsibility efforts of banks across the country and allows users to search and view program profiles for each entrant. Winning and honorable mention entries will be noted.
To view the Community Commitment Award honorable mentions, visit aba.com/awards.