Growth Report 2017: PNC Bank Emphasizes Financial Education

Editor’s Note: The following story is from Growth Report 2017, published by The Business Journal.

By Ted Schmidt, PNC Bank Youngstown Regional President

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A year ago, PNC Bank signed a 10-year contract with Youngstown State University that included a program for the bank to provide financial education to students and faculty.

The inclusion of an education component reflects a growing concern about financial health across the United States. In its December 2016 survey, The National Endowment for Financial Education found that 31% of Americans say the state of their finances is worse than they expected it to be.

Smart consumers are essential to a functioning economy and we help address this issue in the Mahoning Valley through programs that serve individuals at different stages in their lives.

Most students who enter YSU have more financial independence than their parents. The workshops we hold in Cushwa Hall help them make better financial decisions about how to use credit and debit cards, how their use impacts their credit score, how to establish good credit and the documents they need when they fill out a loan application.

Members of the bank staff and I teach our program called Ignite, which includes those topics and protecting yourself against identity theft, about saving and the basics of investing. Some 700 incoming freshmen and foreign students have participated in the workshops we held.

Beyond YSU, a member of our senior leadership, as part of Junior Achievement, taught 50 students in two eighth-grade classes about career exploration, personal budgeting and the basics of establishing good credit.

Other PNC bankers, also JA volunteers, have been in other eighth-grade classrooms.
Not all of the instruction takes place in academic settings.  Workplace banking agreements provide employers the opportunity to offer financial education classes to their employees. PNC works with the business to customize the instruction topics which can be taught either in person or online.

We help people buy homes, the foundation of wealth management, through the PNC Homebuyers Club, a program that helps low- and moderate-income understand the purchase process, which includes a mortgage they can afford, working with real estate agents, and how to avoid the pitfalls such as predatory lending.

PNC Bank works with Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley to help its clients. A PNC branch manager helps them pass their GED high school equivalency exams, or earn an associate’s degree and learn the basics of banking and fraud protection.

Being a victim of fraud can undo much of what you’ve established in the way of credit or banking relationships. If we can teach individuals, regardless of where they are in their lives, how to minimize risk and manage their finances, we can help them get back on their feet and avoid the pitfalls that can set them back.

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