South State Bank focuses on financial literacy in schools
While financial institutions across the United States are celebrating National Financial Literacy Month in April, John Pollok, chief financial officer for South State, makes financial literacy a year-round focus for students in Columbia, S.C. Pollok has made it his personal mission for the past 14 years to reach as many students as possible in the 480 square miles that comprise Richland School District 1 - the district that serves the area surrounding South State’s headquarters in South Carolina’s capital city.
In 2005, Pollok designed a hands-on financial literacy program he calls the Minor Savers Program, geared toward kindergarten through second graders. Since that time, Pollok has personally visited approximately one school per month, reaching nearly 12,000 students with his message.
“I was not a good reader. I always struggled in school,” Pollok says. “I decided I’m going to use financial literacy to help kids motivate themselves.”
Equal parts inspiration and fun facts about money, the Minor Savers Program engages kids in learning about the 1793 penny that sold for $275,000 or the 30 million pennies a day produced by the U.S. Mint. Pollok starts each child off with their own set of coins and a bank to keep them in, explaining how banks work and why saving is important.
When asked how he finds time in a demanding schedule to visit schools on a frequent basis, he says, “As the largest bank headquartered in South Carolina, I think it’s vitally important that we’re involved in our community. We all have to find a way to give back, and this is my way of giving back. I think all of us need to be more present in schools.”
Starting with the C-suite and the CFO, South State Bank is focused on financial literacy and making a difference for the children in our communities – a value the company has held throughout its 85-year history. For more than 30 years, South State has offered a “Bank in School” program, which provides students monthly access to bankers in their school, enabling children to establish a habit of saving money for their future. Today, more than 40 primary and elementary schools and 26,000 students are part of this program.
To get children excited about saving, South State offers a special account, the Youth Savings Account, for children under 18. Children ages 12 and under also become part of the South State Squirrels Club®, which makes savings fun and provides children incentives, like receiving a birthday card from the bank’s mascot, Stash the squirrel, and free gifts. To learn more about the Squirrels Club and Youth Savings, click here.