The Illinois Bankers Association has recognized three banks for their exceptional service to Illinois communities. First National Bank of Waterloo, Republic Bank of Chicago, and Sauk Valley Bank & Trust Company have been named as the 2023 Illinois Bank Community Service Award winners. These awards were presented during the IBA’s Annual Convention which was held in Chicago.
“We are proud of the significant commitment Illinois bankers continue to make by sharing their time and expertise to improve their communities and help change people’s lives,” said Randy Hultgren, President and CEO of the Illinois Bankers Association. “First National Bank of Waterloo, Republic Bank of Chicago, and Sauk Valley Bank& Trust Company have gone above and beyond to give back to the people and places they serve. We are proud to spotlight these banks for continuing the Illinois banking industry’s tradition of excellence in community service.”
First National Bank of Waterloo
First National Bank of Waterloo has demonstrated a consistent dedication to community service in Waterloo and surrounding Monroe County communities. Their efforts have given back to the area’s students, nonprofits, and local businesses.
The bank has prioritized supporting youth in the community by hosting various school supply drives to support local students. Two of these recent drives have benefited Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwestern Illinois and Blessings in a Backpack. The bank has also been an advocate for financial literacy, with colleagues visiting area schools and classrooms to teach children the importance of saving.
First National Bank of Waterloo played a significant role in the organization and execution of a local Alzheimer's Association Walk. The bank has also shown a commitment to local businesses by hosting ‘A Hometown Holiday’, which encouraged employees to shop local during the holiday season and send photos of these shopping trips to support small businesses and boost the local economy. Recently, the bank also supported Heat Up STL by collecting funds at local Hardees locations to help pay local residents' heating bills.
Further community service efforts have supported Human Support Services, House of Neighborly Service, and Helping Strays/Human Society of Monroe County. Bank employees show devotion to various non-profits and fundraising efforts that give back. First National Bank of Waterloo leadership leads by example with a commitment to local organizations, serving as pillars of the community.
Republic Bank of Chicago
Republic Bank of Chicago has shown a commitment to serving its community since opening its doors in 1964. Last year, Republic Bank’s outreach with donations and volunteerism impacted over one hundred local organizations, with ninety colleagues investing more than 1,300 hours of volunteer time into various community partners and not-for-profits. Bank President and CEO Tom Bugielski leads by example while serving on the boards of Northwest Side Housing Center and Abrigo and expects Bank Officers to complete at least ten hours of volunteer time each year.
Republic Bank of Chicago places a strong emphasis on providing financial literacy and expertise to both low-income individuals and small businesses throughout the community. The bank recently partnered with BANZAI to provide an online financial literacy program to low-income schools near their branches within their assessment area. To date, and in partnership with three schools, the bank has helped educate 140 low-income students and expects to further expand this program.
Another example of the bank’s commitment can be seen with Christ the King College Prep School as the Bank sponsored four low-income students in the school’s work study program. These students are gaining hands-on experience in the banking industry while also receiving tuition assistance from the bank.
Further philanthropic efforts include colleagues volunteering for more than 230 hours with Ladder Up to help low-income households file their taxes for free; volunteering for more than 120 hours with Junior Achievement to provide financial literacy to low-income schools throughout the Chicagoland area; and donating to Back 2 School Illinois and participating in their “Build-a-Kit” program which provides school supplies to low-income families. Colleagues support various fundraisers and supply drives in their communities, reinvesting hundreds of thousands of dollars each year through donations and sponsorships (in excess of $500,000 in 2022).
Sauk Valley Bank & Trust Company
In 2016, Sauk Valley Bank launched an employee volunteer program, ‘Be Great, Donate 8’, which encourages employees to find a nonprofit of their choice and donate their time. It was a priority of the bank to build a program that was flexible and adaptable as the bank's workforce and footprint grew. Nonprofits typically experience a volunteer shortage during typical workday hours, so Be Great, Donate 8 compensates employees for the first eight hours donated each year to a nonprofit of their choice. This program is integrated into the onboarding process as each new employee is matched with a mentor who brings them along to volunteer an hour or two of their time and familiarize themselves with the program.
In 2022, the Sauk Valley Bank team volunteered 692 hours back into their communities with 83% of the team volunteering time and 52% of the employees volunteering the maximum number of hours. Since its inception, the bank has donated 3,635 hours back into the community. Over the last seven years, the program has continued to grow by harnessing the power of Sauk Valley Bank's workforce and various nonprofit organizations.
Another initiative supported by the bank is the School Partnership Debit Card Program. This initiative involves partnering with local schools to create a school-branded debit card, with the bank donating a percentage of the interchange revenue back to the schools. Currently, there are four active schools in the program, with a local community college in the process of joining as well. The customer simply uses their debit card; the more they use it, the larger the school donation becomes. Sauk Valley Bank makes the donation at the school’s request of predetermined frequency and the school can determine where they wish to apply the funds.
Additionally, the recently formed Sauk Valley Bank Foundation is a non-profit entity with the purpose of improving the quality of life for families and small businesses within the communities served by Sauk Valley Bank. This is accomplished by assisting in the development and funding of affordable housing initiatives, as well as supporting lending and other financial incentives that encourage the formation and expansion of small businesses. The foundation looks to improve local economies by targeting areas through micro-lending, financial programs, and services to assist the emerging economic needs of underserved and rural communities. While the foundation is organized and operated independently of the bank, the bank provides donations and contracted services, specifically focused on grant monitoring, housing programs, and loan servicing for small business loan funds.