- Jan 21, 2016
From mentoring students to help them realize their dreams of attending college, to piloting a program to help low income homeowners plan and save for the future, to rewarding local military kids for displaying acts of character, First Bank of Highland Park (FBHP) sets the standard for corporate philanthropy.
The bank’s tagline “Where Community is First” is at the heart of the bank’s philosophy and is evident everywhere. Last year alone, 38 non-profit organizations in Northbrook received support from the bank – from schools, to the Park District, to the North Suburban YMCA, to Hunger Resources, to Rotary, the bank rarely turns down an offer to give back to the community.
The bank provided a lead gift to help pave the way for the construction of the North Suburban YMCA’s new handicapped accessible playground. Northbrook Park District baseball teams regularly sport the bank’s logo thanks to its sponsorships. Nonprofit organizations are welcome to use their Community Room and marquee.
Employees generously donated more than 2,500 hours in volunteer service last year. Senior management regularly steps up to play an active role in many local organizations. VP Patricia Widmar serves on the Board of Directors and Finance Committee of the Y; Executive VP Adam Brook is active in Northbrook Rotary. Executive VP Martha McGuire assists Hunger Resources Network with fundraising efforts and Senior VP Barbara Winter served for six years on the Chamber Board.
Employees regularly share their expertise in the area of financial education, visiting schools to teach future consumers financial basics such as how to open a checking account, understanding interest rates and how to make informed decision. Several years ago the bank developed and piloted a youth education and ambassador peer-to-peer program for junior high students. Elements of the program were selected by the FDIC for a youth savings program that will be rolled out nationwide.
Helping students and others with financial challenges to succeed is a priority. Three staff members volunteer for the College Bound Opportunities program which provides one-on-one mentoring to underserved students, helping them to achieve their goal of attending college. Activities include campus tours, assistance with college applications and general guidance and support until the student walks across the stage at graduation.
Another important partnership for FBHP is with Community Partners for Affordable Housing (CPAH) which helps low and moderate income individuals purchase homes. The bank provides both manpower and financial support. Last fall a team of 30 FBHP volunteers and their families spent a day knocking down walls and gutting rooms to rehab one of the homes for a needy family. The Bank and CPAH are in the third year of a pilot savings program to encourage families that have purchased the homes to develop good saving habits and to plan for emergency repairs. FBHP established a monthly savings program for each homeowner, working in partnership to help them understand the financial responsibilities of home ownership.
Staff members also receive Bank support for their personal causes. Kids Rank, a program established by employee Kelcey Liverpool, promotes service projects completed by children of enlisted military. Just as their parents earn ribbons for their service, the kids earn their own ribbons for helping others and for demonstrating character. FBHP not only sponsors the program but helps raise funds to support it, most recently at Marcello’s restaurant.
At every major Chamber event, FBHP is visible with its strong support including as a VIP sponsor of the Auction and Taste and providing the hospitality bags for the golfers at the Annual Golf Outing
“Marcello’s has had the privilege of working side by side with First Bank of Highland Park to help them raise a significant amount of money for so many terrific causes,” comments Marcello’s Executive VP and Chamber Board member Jimmy Lazar. “The bank’s generosity and commitment to Northbrook and surrounding local communities is always done with grace and humility. They are truly a worthy recipient of this award.”