GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — For the second year in a row, Mercantile Bank was honored for their efforts in innovative financial literacy across the state. The West Michigan was awarded the honor by the Michigan Bankers Association during the MBA Bankers Education Summit and Trade Show. It’s given to banks that are making large efforts to teach their communities through financial education programs.

Homeownership, financial recovery and Youth Financial Education are the three main areas focused on by Mercantile. In regards to financial education, Mercantile has teamed up with Grand Valley State University TRIO Upward Bound Program,  in developing a program that assist students in their goal of getting a college degree that come from traditionally underserved communities. Mercantile is committing to invest  $10,000 per Year For 3 years in order to match what the amount that students are able to save for their future in college within the program. The Program serves 100 students, grades 9-12,  at Grand Rapids Innovation Central and Union High School while also providing classes on Financial Education and a job Shadow Program for students.

 “We are honored to be recognized by the MBA, especially for this partnership program. The goals of this program are to provide financial education that can help students develop good money management skills and provide exposure to career opportunities in banking through job shadow experiences,” said Sonali Allen, Chief Compliance and Community Development Officer. “As students use these funds to help cover education costs for their first year of college, our matching funds and the valuable savings skills they develop have a lifelong impact on their financial health.”

In year one of the program, 15 Mercantile bankers helped reach 100 students through financial education classes and job shadow programs. Students like Aisha Mohamed who is a summer program senior.

“Because I am a TRIO Upward Bound student, I was able to participate in Mercantile’s financial literacy sessions,” Mohamed said. “They helped me open a bank account and taught me about financial topics showing me the importance of saving money, and what impacts my credit score.”