Bank staff volunteer with Junior Achievement

Bank staff volunteer with Junior Achievement

“Every kid needs an inspiration,” said Roz Malouhos, Director of Junior Achievement (JA) of Chicago Northwest Indiana Division.

Some individuals who work at First Merchants Bank tend to agree, and regularly take time to help by volunteering with the organization.

“We are fortunate that individuals at First Merchants Bank know the value of volunteering in their communities and recognize the importance of spending time in our community’s classrooms. This is a great opportunity for them to teach kids financial skills and workplace readiness,” said Stephanie Madison, Vice President and community and client market director at First Merchants Bank.

Centering on the three pillars of work-place readiness, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship, JA is an excellent program match for those at First Merchants who have a vested interest in providing future generations with solid financial skills.

“In banking, we sometimes see adults struggle with understanding how their checking account works or the importance of establishing savings. For a lot of people, financial education isn’t something they were taught in school. JA is an opportunity to make financial education a core component of learning,” Madison said.

Beyond financial literacy, JA works to prepare students for life in the real world.

“We bring the real world to life in the classroom. Our classes are taught by volunteers from the community who come in and talk a little bit about their life journey, what they do in their careers, and then they take our program and bring it to life,” Malouhos said.

Those volunteers can inspire and encourage students to strive for their own bright future.

“Kids need to be exposed to positive adult role models. They need to be inspired to believe that they can accomplish things in life, that they have a purpose here, that education is important. You can never hear that too much. Kids need to hear that over and over and not just from their teachers,” Malouhos said.

Madison has personally seen the benefits of the program.

“I have been a JA volunteer for over 10 years. It was a program that was new to me, and I saw it as a way to spend time in my kids’ classrooms while first becoming involved in volunteerism. I loved it! I was able to see the impact that the program has on students. I now proudly serve as a board member,” she said.

Her passion for the program has encouraged other First Merchants Bank employees to join and volunteer in local schools, which they have found to be a rewarding experience.

“I truly enjoy spending time in community classrooms through the Junior Achievement program. The impact that we make on the futures of these children is undeniable. We are teaching financial education skills that will stay with them for a lifetime,” said Tami Pae, Commercial Relationship Manager at First Merchants.

“JA teaches kids skills they will use for the rest of their life. Like other types of education, the sooner kids begin to learn, the more impactful it could be,” Madison said.

“The more exposure a student has to a JA program, the chances of their success increases. We have a lot of studies that show kids who stay in our programs tend to stay in school and continue to attend college, attendance rates in school go up, standardized test scores go up  - a lot of great things happen,” Malouhos added.

Those interested in volunteering with JA and inspiring local students to succeed can contact Malouhos directly (rmalouhos@jachicago.org) or find more information at the JA Chicago website: https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-chicago/.

For more information on First Merchants Bank, visit their website at https://www.firstmerchants.com/.

First Merchants Bank, Member FDIC