Empowering the Next Generation to Reimagine Civic Engagement Through the Lens of African-American History

On this 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination and more than sixty years after the passage of Brown v. Board of Education, we celebrate the progress wrought by the Civil Rights Movement and by those who gave their lives to improve the lives of everyone in their communities. Stories of grit, resilience and determination remind us all that it is as important as ever to understand and learn from the past. Last week, executives from TIAA and students from Vance High School traveled to our nation’s capital for a field trip to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Our time at the exhibits underscored for all of us how history is instrumental in shaping tomorrow’s leaders.

The field trip served as a culminating event for select group of Vance High School students, from Charlotte, North Carolina, who participated in EVERFI’s 306: African-American History course. Throughout the personal tour from museum cultural historian John Franklin, students found themselves up close and personal with historical artifacts and stories of heroes they had just learned about in the digital course.

The museum featured a map that outlined events leading up to Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students to be unconstitutional. The students were particularly surprised and inspired to learn about how their home state helped pave the way. In 1951, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was ordered by federal courts to admit African Americans to its law, medical, and graduate schools. Though primary and secondary school systems remained segregated, the Pamlico County NAACP also filed a lawsuit for school equalization or integration in 1951. At the time, the national NAACP was readying the court challenge that would lead to the Brown decision.

We also learned that for many involved in fighting to end school segregation or supporting the civil rights movement of the 1950’s, their historical legacy was about deciding for themselves who they wanted to be as civically engaged Americans. “Maybe if we said, ‘this is American History, and this is what happened to people, instead of, this is African-American History and this only happened to them’,” said one Vance student, reflecting on the visit. “Then maybe students who don’t relate to this would realize it’s their history too and it’s about all people.”

Overall, the trip underscored the key takeaways of the 306 course and helped us to internalize how the past shaped today’s landscape. Our visit challenged us to think beyond our comfort levels and examine what we are trying to achieve for the greater social good. The legacies of the heroes and heroines covered in the course and at the museum provide the roadmap needed to guide this next generation of leaders on their journey of self and civic discovery.

Learning Financial Literacy Lessons For Life

This is part five of our Financial Literacy Month K-12 feature series. Celebrate with EVERFI this Financial Literacy Month!

Today we’re featuring an excerpt from Derek, a high school senior who recently earned his EVERFI – Financial Literacy certification. As Derek prepares for graduation, he shares his realization for the tremendous need to understand basic financial concepts, as well as the options available to him as he heads off to college. Congratulations to Derek for being one of our scholarship recipients! We wish you the best of luck as you enter your freshman year!


Student: Derek
Teacher: Mrs. Halsne
School: Garner-Hayfield-Ventura High School
State: Iowa
Sponsor: Clear Lake Bank and Trust

“Working through the EVERFI – Financial Literacy program in my senior economics class is probably the ‘lesson’ I will use more than any others from that semester. Finally, I’ve encountered material that I could readily see transferring to my life– not only in the near future as I graduate from high school, but throughout my life.

With college looming ever closer, the stress of how to pay for it is beginning to weigh heavily on me. My mom is a solo parent and will not be able to pay for my future education. Working to save money and applying for scholarships, I’m doing my best to not end up with more college debt than necessary. I have been accepted to community college and will be majoring in criminal justice and then transfer to Iowa State to earn my bachelors degree in criminology and ultimately become a state trooper. All of which will be costly. Due to this EVERFIcourse, I am more knowledgeable about the different options available when it comes to paying for college, how to fill out the FASFA, and how to search for and apply for scholarships. The part of the lesson that addressed financing and paying for college helped to set my mind somewhat at ease and realize that with the help of scholarships and loans, it will be doable.

The course’s session about the importance of saving money also reinforced my mother’s regular reminders about putting a portion of the money I earn at my part-time job away to help pay for college tuition and room and board. I also appreciated that the savings aspect of the course didn’t just stop at savings accounts and present issues; it also helped me to understand more about creating retirement savings and investing in bonds, etc. early rather than later. When I do get my job, I will know more about planning for my long-range goals.

When some friends came back from college and were talking about things the first few weeks there, they mentioned credit card companies set up around the campus and encouraging them to open accounts. The EVERFI course, along with my parents, have given me a solid footing when it comes to credit card use and how easy it can be to fall into credit card debt.

There need to be more courses in high school like the EVERFI financial literacy lessons that help us to learn how to handle all the complicated aspects of becoming adults, especially when it comes to being a financially literate adult.”

Retail Bank Marketing Trends

5 Major Retail Bank Marketing Trends For 2018

The financial industry’s spending on marketing technology has been rising in recent years. Currently, marketing technology comprises about 22% of the average bank’s budget, according to the ABA. Marketing technology enables retail banks to track the customer journey and gain insights into their ROI. Retail banks are also starting to put more marketing technology dollars behind one particularly essential consumer population: Generation Z. Ages 6 to 23 in 2018, tech-savvy Gen Z’ers are starting to graduate, manage finances, earn disposable incomes and, by 2020, will account for 1/3 of the US. Given this, it makes sense that the major retail bank marketing trends we’re seeing right now involve progressive technology tools that align with Gen Z sensibilities.

Large banks have been at the forefront of marketing technology trends, but community banks are catching up and the gap is narrowing. The Financial Brand predicts that the “intersection of data and digital marketing will continue to surge” and banks and credit unions that focus on these areas will find it easier to grow.

Here are 5 important marketing trends among today’s retail banks:


1) Data

Leading financial institutions are putting more and more resources into data. Collecting the right information and knowing how to use it can be a game changer for businesses. Advanced data analytics can help optimize sales cycles for instance, by providing concrete insights e.g. which type of messaging at each stage of the process results in the most conversions. Banks are also gathering more qualitative data than ever before, discovering the benefits of tracking behavioral patterns, motivations, financial goals, emotional responses, etc. By getting a stronger idea of the personas they serve, banks can understand their customer base on a deeper level, predict behaviors, communicate more effectively, and better meet their needs.


2) Search Engine Optimization

55% of customers looking for new banking products begin by searching on Google. A strong online presence is crucial to staying competitive and banks are becoming more aware of that. SEO enables businesses to attain higher search engine rankings without paying for it. This is achieved with a formula of interesting and timely content with meta tags and keywords posted frequently on multiple platforms. Banks’ go-to-market strategies are involving a greater variety of mediums (videos, blogs, eBooks, infographics) and channels (social media, website, email).


3) Content Creation

Content creation trumps content curation. Producing compelling original content (rather than depending on outside sources) is critical in boosting your institution’s relevancy, credibility and consumer engagement. It’s also the key to getting through to that prized Gen Z demo. True children of the digital and social media age, Gen Z have high standards and short attention spans when it comes to content. Retail banks are playing more to this audience by ramping up social media presence, creating brief and dynamic content, and leveraging artificial intelligence.


4) Artificial Intelligence

Every industry is moving toward AI, banking included. AI is versatile, scalable and efficient. Chatbots are one AI tool that is upending customer service as we know it. At any time of day or night, via a variety of platforms (website, app, social media), customers can be assisted with their needs—even specific requests like checking account balances or paying bills. Such sophisticated technology saves banks time and resources and satisfies Gen Z’s expectation of fast, high-quality information. It’s predicted that by 2020, 85% of consumers’ interactions with businesses will not involve a human.


5) Hiring & Partnering

Big data, SEO, content creation and AI are not simple areas of focus. Thus, bank hiring has been evolving. Banks are seeking new talent (copywriters, content strategists, digital storytellers, engineers, data experts) with the skillsets to pull off these complex marketing technology strategies effectively. In addition to staffing up, it’s also becoming more common for banks to partner with a specialized third party that has already developed sophisticated marketing tools that bank partners can use without having to recreate in-house.

Learn how to take the first steps in creating a financial digital strategy for 2018 with The Ultimate Guide to Financial Digital Marketing.

Learning Finances is Important, Even for Me

This is part four of our Financial Literacy Month K-12 feature series. Celebrate with EVERFI this Financial Literacy Month!

Today we’re featuring an excerpt from Grace, an elementary school student who recently earned her Vault – Understanding Money certification. Grace explains all she took away from Vault’s lessons and shares the importance of building a financial understanding, even for elementary students like her. Congratulations to Grace for being one of our scholarship recipients!


Student: Grace
Teacher: Mr. Brian Dick
School: Happy Hollow Elementary
State: Indiana
Sponsor: The MassMutual Foundation

“I have always wanted to make a difference in the world, and thanks to Vault, now I know how to do that. I have learned a lot over the past couple weeks, about risks and investments, borrowing and saving, jobs and taxes. This course teaches important life lessons, and because of it, I have begun saving for a new charity recently.

One of the most important things I learned about was budgeting, so you don’t owe money. You should write down all of your expenses and how much you estimate you will spend on needs in a certain amount of time, like a month. If you have money left over, you can also spend that on wants and charities, or save up for something more expensive. If you don’t spend more than you earn, you’ll have a balanced budget!

I also learned about the different kinds of risks, and insurance, and how that can help lessen the consequences. First of all, there are personal risks, which is jeopardy to yourself or your property. There are also household risks, which are risks, obviously, to your home. Things like forgetting to wear a bike helmet, leaving your phone outside, or not buckling up in a car can be personal risks, whereas household risks would be more like starting a fire or living in an area with many hurricanes.

Risks can be dangerous, ending you up in the hospital or burning down your house, but there are ways to control them. Starting that fire I mentioned in your fireplace might be a good tactic, and so would having a fire extinguisher handy. Controlled risks are okay to take; if you never took any risks you would be sitting stock-still at home. But there are also good ways to lessen the consequences, like getting health insurance to help deal with personal risks and their effects.

Another thing I learned about, that seemed really important to me, was taxes, because that’s your money, and you ought to know how much you actually spend or earn. Taxes aren’t necessarily a bad thing, because what would we do without education, police, and paved roads? You should understand that something worth $7 really costs $7.50 (at least in Indiana).

I plan to put these skills I’ve learned to use in millions of ways. I’ve begun to save for a charity based at the Indiana Women’s Prison, and budget so that I can buy something amazing when the time comes. I am saving for college, and know how to plan ahead for any risks and their consequences.

I learned so much from EVERFI’s Vault program about income, expenses, and money in general and am planning to put all of that knowledge to good use. I am ready to save for college, budget my own expenses, and control my own money after taking these courses. So I thank the EVERFI team for all that I know about finances because they really are important, even at age twelve.”


bank cross selling strategies

5 Easy Ways To Increase Bank Cross-Selling

Cross-selling is an ideal way to create new revenues while decreasing costs. It is far more cost-effective than acquiring new customers. Furthermore, a Gallup study of the retail and banking industry study showed that only 25% of customers thought their bank had their financial well-being in mind.

According to Gallup, “But on average, those 25% of customers have more products — such as checking and savings accounts, debit or credit cards, mortgages, or brokerage and investment accounts — with their bank than customers who do not think their bank looks out for their financial well-being.”

It would appear that an effective cross-selling strategy is closely tied to building trust in the customer. How do banks go about creating a cross-selling program that keeps trust in mind while creating goals that increase revenue?

1. Connect with Customers

Take a look at your on-boarding process. How much are you following up with customers? When bringing a new customer on, it’s important to be a part of the process. Reach out digitally and personally to grow a trusted relationship. For banks or credit unions to create a fruitful cross-selling plan, it’s important to keep the line of communication open. Then, you will be the first financial organization your customer thinks of the next time they need a loan or to open an account.

2. Gather Data on Your Customers and Community

Data collection is extremely important, and in a world where customers are becoming accustomed to customized programs, it’s crucial to an effective cross-selling strategy. Every customer has their own set of needs. Everything from age to marital status can give financial institutions clues as to what products are the best candidates for upselling.

3. Educate Your Customer-Facing Employees

When possible, offer customer-facing representatives reports that emphasize cross-selling opportunities. Using the data you collect, you can empower your staff with the knowledge they need to ask the right customers the right questions in order to leverage the sale. Many of these reminders and tools for salespeople can be automated. They may come in the form of a computer pop-up reminder, text message or follow-up email.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Referrals

This is a great and easy way to acquire new customers. If your customers trust the financial institution, they’ll have no problem referring a friend or family member. Referral programs can be incentivized and have seen great success in both small credit unions and retail banks.

5. Evaluate Your Opportunities

The needs of customers change over time. A well-planned cross-selling program isn’t product-centered. It’s customer-centered. This can be done monthly or, using data analytics, it can be generated in real time. Timing means more than you think. By considering the purchasing habits of your customers, you’ll be more likely to get it right. Another way to find opportunities is to tap into initiatives driven by the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). It’s a good way to address your customers’ needs and build upon existing programs.


Grow Your Bottom Line While Meeting Regulatory Standards

Financial institutions are among the most regulated retail industries. Instead of seeing these regulations as impediments, how about revisiting them to reveal opportunities? Not only will it help businesses grow and thrive, it’ll improve your ratings.

Most of all, this approach will enhance goodwill and trust among customers. What more can you ask for? To learn more about how you can improve your CRA outcomes in 2018 AND develop cross-selling strategies that jive with industry best practices, read our white paper: 10 Big Ideas to Improve Your CRA Outcomes.


Chasing Opportunities to Better Myself

This is part one of our Financial Literacy Month K-12 feature series. Celebrate with EVERFI this Financial Literacy Month!

Today we’re featuring an excerpt from Malia, a high school student who recently earned her EVERFI – Financial Literacy for High School certification. Malia shares the importance of learning “adult concepts” for her future in real-estate, and the real world skills she’s bringing to the table as an empowered young adult. Congratulations to Malia for being one of our scholarship recipients!


Student: Malia
Teacher: Ms. Holmes
School: Cass Technical High School
State: Michigan
Sponsor: John Hancock

“To survive in this world, a person must know how to go about life with an idea and a will to live. Most of us will attend school seeking an education and often sacrifice a lot just to be able to receive that education. When we are young, our families and friends ask us, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ and our responses are often innocent and not given much thought as we only have so much experience. As we get older, we start to develop interests and hang around people who influence us and our decisions. These impacts can be beneficial or detrimental; we make the ultimate choice to start new habits and make a way for ourselves.

My experience as a student has been full of opportunity. My family has always worked to ensure me and others around me that I will always be prepared for the next step I take in life. Even from a young age, I was concerned about my grades and how well I function in my day-to-day. As a teenager residing in Detroit, ranked the second most dangerous city in America, I am looked at as a person with minimal opportunities. However, I have had much success with making it and taking opportunities, hopefully changing the perceptions of others not coming from where I am.

I’ve developed a profound interest in real-estate development and brokering. To get a head start in reaching my full potential, I was able to get an internship at a small real-estate firm, hired by a family friend, Ms. Rivers. There, I learned not only important careers skills but also important life skills. Skills such as learning how to greet people, dress professionally, carry myself, and even deal with rejection.

I appreciate school right now but job opportunities and programs such as EVERFI teach me skills that I wouldn’t be able to retain just from school alone. With the EVERFI program, I got a deeper understanding of what I refer to as ‘adult concepts,’ such as what types of accounts there are, what higher education options I have, how to invest wisely, and what living situations will work best for me.

If I was honored as a recipient of this scholarship, I would use this money for my higher education and to save on costs to contribute to my ultimate career goal as a broker. When I turn 18, I will be able to take a test to earn my broker license in the state of Michigan. In life, I hope to travel to other states with high property values such as New York, as well as states that have the potential to provide affordable housing for the people looking to live there. Ultimately, the EVERFI Scholarship would be a great opportunity to get my foot in the door for college and encourage me to chase after other opportunities to better myself.


Interested in learning more about the EVERFI – Financial Literacy for High School program for your classroom?

EVERFI – Financial Literacy is an engaging, online resource that uses video, animations and interactive activities to bring complex financial concepts to life. The program features 9 self-paced lessons covering a variety of topics, including banking, financing higher education, credit scores and investing.

financial education program

5 Ways to Revitalize your Financial Education Program and Boost Business

While financial education can be an invaluable component of your bank or credit union’s content marketing strategy, it is often underutilized. There are many ways you can enhance your financial education program to better meet your business goals and increase your bottom line.

Take some time to review your current program. Is there an opportunity to increase its impact, improve the experience, or make the content more dynamic and relevant? If so, consider these 5 effective strategies to revitalize your financial education program:

  1. Digitize Your Programming & Measure Impact

While workshops and seminars are not to be discounted, a digital education component can take your efforts to the next level. An online program has an unlimited scale and can instantly curate key metrics for your institution, such as participation numbers, knowledge deficits and gains in specific subject areas, and financial behaviors and intentions. Advanced data reporting can inform your ROI, justify your budget, reveal insights into consumer needs so you can better serve them, and provide concrete evidence of your community reinvestment efforts to regulators. Communicating information in fresh and innovative ways will also distinguish your business from competitors.

  1. Offer Financial Education to Prospective Customers, Too

If you are limiting your educational tools to current customers only, there is a missed opportunity for outreach to prospective account-holders. Offer a slice of your financial education program to prospects. Engaging them in your online tools increases exposure to your brand and opens the door to potential customer acquisition. Encourage participation with an incentive (such as an enticing giveaway) for completing a lesson. A helpful resource, combined with a worthwhile incentive, will create a positive association with your business among prospective customers.

  1.     Don’t Forget Your Own Employees

Not all bank and credit union employees are financially capable themselves. Offering your financial education to staff, too, is a no-brainer. It is an employee benefit that also helps your business. A financially literate employee is more productive, confident, and equipped to serve your account-holders. You can easily mandate staff participation or encourage it through a small incentive. Consider presenting employees who complete the program successfully with a physical certificate that will strengthen their credibility as subject-matter experts.

  1. Build Up your Relationship with Local Schools

Kids in your community will soon become consumers and bank and credit union customers. Bringing financial education to local elementary, middle and/or high schools will promote a more financially capable rising generation. In addition to being a worthy philanthropic gesture, it will also reinforce your brand to students over time and open up valuable marketing and PR opportunities, if done right. Some of the most powerful school programs entail online education tools combined with offline benefits, such as scholarship offerings and capstone ceremonies.

  1. Use Multiple Marketing Channels

Take advantage of the many, varied marketing channels to expand your reach. If your online presence is relevant and regular, then you’re already ahead of most of the financial industry! Keep up consistent activity by promoting links and interesting content through email, online videos, and social media. (Note that an inactive social media presence is worse than none at all.) Links could lead to promotional offerings, product announcements, blog/vlog posts, or timely financial news (e.g. the new tax reform bill and how it affects them). You can also use online marketing channels to notify your audience about offline opportunities, such as events and workshops.

While these ventures require a time and/or monetary investment, they have proven effective time and again in helping businesses achieve desired results. Banks and credit unions looking to reinvigorate their financial education programs often choose to partner with an experienced FinTech firm. A partner with the right resources and expertise can provide you with both a state-of-the-art digital tool and a dedicated team that can successfully execute your program.

Learn how you can use financial education as a content marketing strategy for 2018 – learn more today!