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Thirty fifth-grade students
Noted American author William Arthur Ward once said, “Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” Our curiosity urges us to ask questions—even unusual ones—in our search for innovative answers. This is especially illuminated by our mission to improve lives through financial empowerment.

Fifth Third has pioneered a number of educational outreach programs that help consumers gain access to the tools they need to be financially successful. There are numerous studies—and even more personal stories—that demonstrate the dangers of financial illiteracy. While there are many conventional ways to tackle the problem, we’ve also discovered some less traditional approaches.

Homeowner Re-employment

The recession left many Americans upside-down on their mortgages and foreclosures grew to a crisis level. Like many other banks, we utilized government-sponsored and our own proprietary loan modification programs to help borrowers. But we were driven to do more. In talking with our distressed mortgage customers we learned that the majority of foreclosures were caused by job loss or salary reductions. Understanding that, we decided to help customers find jobs.

In 2012, we piloted a program with NextJob, a national re-employment solutions company, in which we paid for our customers to go through NextJob’s three-pronged job search and training program. The result was 40 percent of participants gaining employment within six months, after being out of work an average of 22 months.

In February 2013, we rolled out the program Company-wide. We identified customers who were two or more payments behind on their mortgage, contacted them via overnight mail and offered them the program, free of charge and free of strings. The program was voluntary and had no direct impact on their mortgage terms.

The program consists of 16 weeks of one-on-one job training with a certified job coach, 39 weeks of access to online job training modules, and weekly coach-led conference calls. Our customers learned how to create an effective resume, develop and carry out a detailed job search plan, and identify their transferable job skills. They also trained for successful interviews, learned how to utilize social media and Internet tools to network, and developed a personal brand.

Lives have been changed—and homes saved—with this groundbreaking program. We are proud to have been the first bank to introduce this innovative concept to the industry. We’ve also been spreading the word to expand this program to other financial institutions, an activity that began to yield fruit as 2013 drew to a close.


Homeowner Re-employment: Changing A Life

Maya Gray
Chicagoan Maya Gray lost her six-figure job when her company downsized in 2012.
The resourceful single mother of two reached into her savings to try to keep her mortgage current and pay her bills. She also received help from the state’s Hardest Hit program, which provides temporary mortgage assistance. But it wasn’t enough.
Gray said, “I was grateful for the program, but ultimately, a modified payment is as hard to make as a regular payment when you don’t have a job. I was actively seeking another job opportunity, but it was a really tough market.”
So Gray contacted Fifth Third Bank and told the Company that she had lost her job. Shortly thereafter, Gray received an overnight package offering her the opportunity to participate in NextJob’s three-pronged job search and training program.
“It was free,” Gray said. “I thought, ‘Why not?’ I was looking for any type of service that could help me get back on my feet. I’m a very dedicated person. I was ready to learn and do what it takes.”
Of NextJob’s three-pronged training, Gray said the resume creation was especially helpful. She also appreciated the weekly phone consultations with her job coach, the
Job Seeker’s Toolkit online training modules and the job leads.
“When you’re doing the traditional looking for a job, submitting things online, it’s all about how your resume presents,” Gray said. “After I learned how to market my skills, I began to get a lot of call-backs, phone interviews and then face-to-face interviews.”
Gray landed a job in August 2012. “I’m so grateful to Fifth Third Bank. Their help was a big surprise, and I sincerely appreciated it. They saw me as a person and not an account. I didn’t lose my house and I have rebuilt my financial standing.”

Job Seeker’s Toolkit

The success of the homeowner re-employment program encouraged us to find a way to increase its impact beyond our distressed mortgage borrowers. Among the most important components of the program are the online job training modules. In July 2013, we made that portion of the program available to all of our online bank customers. Putting the Job Seeker’s Toolkit on magnified the reach of our job assistance and its use steadily increased throughout the year. The toolkit enabled any Bank customer who was unemployed, under-employed or seeking a change in career direction to take advantage of this valuable service for free.

In August, we extended this program even further. We made it available on our two Financial Empowerment Mobiles, or eBuses, which are 40-foot buses equipped with Internet-accessible workstations. With this move, consumers living in low- and moderate-income communities—even those who were not customers—gained access to quality education about how to enter or advance in today’s job market.

Financial Empowerment Mobiles

The eBuses took to the streets in 2013 to bring the Job Seeker’s Toolkit and a variety of other financial counseling and education services to low- and moderate-income individuals and communities and the 20.1 percent of households who are financially underserved in the Fifth Third service area. Our financial classrooms on wheels were the feature at 229 events and visited 105 cities.

We staff the eBuses with our professional bankers who offer financial counseling, education and referral assistance. We met with close to 58,300 individuals last year to provide free credit reports and credit counseling, loss mitigation and foreclosure prevention, and tax filing assistance. We also open checking and savings accounts and offer online banking training.

eBus tour stops often become community-wide events that bring together government, social service and other agencies with our Company to help people with a wide variety of needs. Financial Empowerment Mobile events are typically held at local community centers, churches, schools and shopping centers.

The Young Bankers Club

Fifth Third’s first steps into the world of financial empowerment began nine years ago with the creation of the Fifth Third Bank Young Bankers Club (YBC). A financial literacy program for fifth-grade students, YBC teaches students basic lessons about money and money management.

YBC, which meets national and state standards in mathematics, is taught in elementary schools in most Fifth Third affiliates, often by a Fifth Third banker. In recent years, the program expanded online to allow the teacher greater flexibility and to incorporate grade-level activities like a video game challenge.

Last year, Young Bankers Club graduated students in new markets, including North Carolina, Kentucky and Western Michigan. More than 2,100 students graduated from Young Bankers Club last year, and more than 11,000 students throughout the Fifth Third Bank footprint have graduated since 2004.

Teach Children to Save

Fifth Third Bank sponsors the American Bankers Teach Children to Save for eighth-grade students. Offered in several of our affiliate markets, the program emphasizes saving for the future and helps teens appreciate the value of delayed gratification and hard work.

TCTS is a signature program of the ABA Education Foundation, which engages bankers to help kids develop a lifelong savings habit. Fifth Third Bank employees deliver the Teach Children to Save curriculum to students. We helped educate more than 5,000 students through TCTS in 2013.

Foundations in Personal Finance

In 2010, Fifth Third Bank and national financial expert Dave Ramsey embarked on a landmark alliance in which the Bank would pay for the teaching of Ramsey’s financial education program—Foundations in Personal Finance—in local high schools. Just three years later, the alliance had educated more than 500,000 students.

We’re pleased to report that, at the conclusion of 2013, we signed an agreement to continue sponsoring the curriculum for another three years. Assuming the current success rate continues, Fifth Third and Ramsey will have educated over one million high school juniors by 2017.

Behind each number is one student whose life has likely been changed for the better. Many parents of students who’ve gone through the program tell us that they wished they had learned personal finance in high school and are comforted knowing their children received this valuable instruction before entering college.

In 2013, we took our alliance with Ramsey beyond our sponsorship of the course in high schools. Building from a foundation begun by Ramsey’s team, we offered three $5,000 scholarships to students who scored 100 percent on a financial literacy challenge to help with future college expenses.

Scholarship Winner’s Inspirational Personal Finance Journey

Fifth Third Bank and Dave Ramsey awarded three $5,000 scholarships in 2013 as part of Ramsey’s Financial Literacy Challenge inviting high school students across the country to test their personal finance knowledge. Fifth Third sponsored the challenge and helped award the winners, including Derek Minges, a senior at Monroe High School near Cincinnati.
Derek’s mother urged him to take the
Challenge after seeing a post about it on Dave Ramsey’s Facebook page, although her push to teach her son financial responsibility began long before. At an early age, Derek’s parents told him and his siblings that they would need to work hard and cover the majority of their college expenses. As long-time Dave Ramsey fans, they got their children involved in Ramsey’s Financial Peace Junior program that taught about earning money, saving, the importance of giving and how to have fun spending on a plan. Derek’s old worksheets from that program made an appearance at the scholarship presentation in May, as his mom brought them to the ceremony to help demonstrate the staying power of those studies. His goal back then was to save enough for a new video game. His goals are higher now, perhaps in part because he took Ramsey’s Foundations in Personal Finance during his junior year, sponsored by Fifth Third Bank.
Derek’s classmates consider him a frugal guy who works part time and drives a 15-year-old car with no air conditioning or radio to save money. Although in the top 10 percent of his class with many college options, Derek was planning to attend a community college to avoid student debt until he was accepted to West Point. His desire to give back and serve others, instilled in him by his parents and reinforced through programs like Ramsey’s Financial Peace Junior and Foundations in Personal Finance, made his college decision easy.
With acceptance to West Point came significant up-front costs for things like uniforms. Between local scholarships and grants, Derek was just shy of his deposit minimum until Fifth Third Bank and Rachel Ramsey Cruze showed up at his school with an oversized $5,000 check. Derek’s story is just beginning, and thanks to his parents, Dave Ramsey and Fifth Third Bank, he has the sound financial principles to serve him a lifetime.
Congratulations to Derek and to the other two winners: Ashlyn Walsh, who graduated from Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, Fla., and attends the University of Central Florida, and Jessica Sisco, who graduated from Bolivar Central High School in Bolivar, Tenn., and studies nursing at Northeast Mississippi Community College.
Above: Derek Minges receives a $5,000 scholarship from Fifth Third Bank and Rachel Cruze.
$5,000 scholarship

Responsible Banking

Underscoring all of our financial empowerment programs is our delivery of quality financial products and services. That is driven, in turn, by our steadfast commitment to Responsible Banking. The Responsible Banking department provides key oversight to ensure that our complete product and service suite is accessible to all consumers, in all market segments, and that we’re offering the right types of products and services.

Our approach to responsible banking is to act in the best interest of our customers by providing reasonably priced products, defining clear terms and disclosures, and offering fair and consistent service. By doing so, we can build lasting customer relationships and meet our responsibility to help them prosper.