When young people drop out of school, their potential as wage earners — and as bank customers —diminishes greatly. Keeping at-risk students in school and on track for better career opportunities is why Regions vigorously supports Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG).
This nationwide nonprofit organization is dedicated to dropout prevention, job training, and school-to-work transition programs for economically disadvantaged youths, serving more than 45,000 students annually. Regions’ support is strongest in Mississippi through a relationship with JAG’s local affiliate, Jobs for Mississippi Graduates (JMG), which runs programs in 31 middle schools and high schools.
Building on past support, Regions made a $25,000 contribution to Jackson-based JMG in January and in June directed a $26,000 grant to JMG from the Bank Enterprise Award it received through a U.S. Treasury Department program designed to support nonprofit community development efforts. This funding helps JMG provide onsite mentors and counselors to work with students who exhibit dropout risk patterns such as excessive absenteeism, failed classes or grade levels, juvenile delinquency or teen parenthood, and students who have little or no family support or below poverty-level family incomes.
“Jobs for Mississippi Graduates is delighted to have Regions as one of its corporate sponsors, aiding our mission of dropout prevention and employability skills training for Mississippi youths,” says JMG Executive Director Ramona Seabron-Williams. “The dedication and resources Regions has committed enables us to further reduce the state’s alarming dropout rate and aids our efforts to attract and retain a quality workforce. Your assistance is phenomenal, and we are forever grateful.”
“I am so impressed with the energy that everyone in JAG has for helping change the life trajectories of at-risk youths,” says Regions Corporate Human Resources Manager Janet Parker, who serves on JAG’s board of directors. “I’ve heard story after story about participants and the central theme is that it’s not about lack of capability, it’s about giving young people skills, confidence and opportunity. Once they taste success, JAG counselors step out of the way and watch them take off.”
Regions’ recent contributions to JMG qualify as Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) investments, meeting regulatory expectations and establishing a signature CRA partnership in Mississippi while making life better for participants. The relationship also opens doors for Regions associates to teach financial education classes at participating schools, often using their annual What A Difference A Day Makes day off with pay to pitch in.
“Our partnership with JMG creates many volunteer service opportunities for Regions associates,” says Community Affairs Manager Charlita Cloman. She says JMG follows up after each youth graduates from high school or receives a GED certificate to ensure his or her successful transition into postsecondary education or into a job.
Regions also partners with JAG’s Nashville-based affiliate, Jobs for Tennessee Graduates (JTG). “Our associates have conducted FDIC Money Smart for Young Adults workshops through JTG since 2008 at high schools in the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools system,” says Regional Community Affairs Manager Latrisha Jemison. “In the 2012-13 school year, associates taught modules called ‘Bank On It,’ ‘Pay Yourself First,’ and ‘Paying for College and Cars.’ In April alone, Regions volunteers led 30 sessions that reached 528 students.”
That kind of impact makes JAG partnerships worthwhile. Regions plans to continue supporting JAG programs in Mississippi and Tennessee through financial contributions and associate participation, and could potentially expand support to other state affiliates operating in the bank’s footprint.