Banks are in the business of helping people with their finances, but we want to be known for doing more than that. We want to empower people financially.

Financial empowerment is the name we've given to all of our efforts to provide people with the tools, knowledge and access they need to be successful. Real happiness in life may have little to do with money, but having the ability to earn a living, to manage finances responsibly, and to save income for future goals can help considerably.

Many of our financial empowerment programs are targeted at youth because it's crucial to expose young people to financial lessons early and to reinforce sound principles as they grow. Our programs and partnerships have been developed for students in fifth, eighth, and eleventh grades—school years in which they are likely to have a proficiency test.

Young Bankers Club

The Young Bankers Club (YBC) is our financial education curriculum for fifth-grade students. It teaches the fundamentals: what money is, how it's earned and how it's used. More than 7,000 students have graduated from YBC since 2004.

In 2012, we upgraded and evolved the curriculum. The completely new program meets national and state standards in mathematics, encourages expanded adoption of the program by enabling greater teacher flexibility, and includes activities like a video game challenge to reach kids at their grade level. Lessons include: Money Basics, Money Matters, Spending Money, Budgeting, Personal Banking, Credit Cards and Interest, Investments, and Starting Your Own Business.

As students complete the program, they are able, among other things, to explore various careers and how much income they can earn, create budgets and study spending, and learn the basics of the stock market and entrepreneurship. We expect to educate 3,000 students in 2013.

Teach Children to Save

We established a partnership with the American Bankers Association (ABA) last year to offer its Teach Children to Save (TCTS) program to eighth-grade students. TCTS was made available in our 12-state market beginning on National Teach Children to Save Day in April. TCTS is a signature program of the ABA Education Foundation, which engages bankers to help kids develop a lifelong savings habit.

TCTS underscores good financial practices and facilitates an understanding of the economic world. It emphasizes saving money and delaying gratification to help pre-teens appreciate the value of hard work and sacrifice. Bank employee volunteers taught the TCTS curriculum to students in their classrooms in 2012 and also led Financial Empowerment Days for teachers, parents and students to educate them about the products we offer that can assist their savings efforts.

Foundations in Personal Finance

Our alliance with one of America's most well-known financial experts, Dave Ramsey, expanded in 2012. We invested $2.2 million to enable his high school curriculum, Foundations in Personal Finance, to be taught in more than 1,800 high schools throughout our footprint. We also offered Financial Empowerment Days at select schools with this program.

Ramsey said, “We are absolutely thrilled and energized by the tremendous collaboration we have with the Bank. They have demonstrated a strong commitment to financial education and have put their money where their mouth is. Together we reached 270,000 students last school year.”

Our collaboration with Dave Ramsey began in 2010 with a pilot program for schools located in underserved areas. It expanded the following year, and is now available in all of our markets. Since the pilot, we have helped educate more than 400,000 students.

Dave Ramsey's Foundations in Personal Finance course is a turn-key curriculum designed to provide students with sound financial principles that will guide them into adulthood. It is taught by the teacher who is aided by video lessons delivered by Dave Ramsey himself. Ramsey both educates and entertains students as they learn how to avoid debt and build wealth. The course meets standards in all 50 states as well as national standards suggested by the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.

Programming for Adults

Many adults also need assistance with their finances—whether that be job training, access to quality products and services, trusted advice, knowledge about savings and investments, or help with day-to-day tasks like budgeting. We work hard to offer financial solutions that help people achieve their goals.

Fifth Third Bank in St. Louis taught a financial empowerment class at one of its Fifth Third Financial Empowerment Mobile stops last year. Here, Membership Advantage Coordinator Delia Davis kicks off the class. Fifth Third Bank (North Carolina) celebrated the American Bankers Association's National Teach a Child to Save campaign by reaching 300 students in the Charlotte , N.C., region. Bankers visited the classrooms of Westerly Hills Academy and Oakdale Elementary School to host workshops Fifth Third Bank (Tampa Bay) partnered with Derrick Brooks Charities to create The Brooks Brunch Business Bootcamp in which Ramsey's high school curriculum was used to teach students at Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School. The Bank also hosted a student tour of Fifth Third Center. In Kentucky, 15 local high school students received an education in entrepreneurship, agri-science, and financial management thanks to a partnership between Fifth Third Bankand the Community Ventures Corporation to sponsor the Youth Entrepreneur Development program.

Financial Empowerment Mobiles

One of the most innovative ways we help adults is through our Financial Empowerment mobiles. We have two of these retrofitted metro buses that travel into underserved communities offering access and service from our bankers. Each bus is a mobile classroom outfitted with Internet-accessible workstations powered by satellite technology.

In 2012, our two eBuses visited 88 communities, often in partnership with community organizations who hosted outreach events with us. We had 29,000 people board our buses last year and receive credit counseling, foreclosure avoidance training, or access to quality banking services.

Our eBuses ventured onto the national stage last year by visiting annual conferences held in our market cities. The conferences included those held by The League of United Latin American Citizens, The National Association of Real Estate Brokers, Neighborworks, and The National Association of Black MBAs. This exposure helped us reach more people and facilitate greater exposure of our financial empowerment initiatives.

Homeowner Reemployment

2012 was a benchmark year for a new innovative partnership at our Company. We piloted a program with NextJob, a nationwide reemployment company, in which we put some of our distressed mortgage borrowers—those in serious risk of default and foreclosure—through up to 39 weeks of comprehensive job search training fully funded by Fifth Third Bank.

Knowing that more than half of mortgage delinquencies are due to job loss, we piloted the program to help our mortgage customers identify their transferable job skills and regain financial stability. The 2012 pilot resulted in 40 percent of participants finding a full-time job after being out of work for 22 months on average.

NextJob's training is threefold and includes live job coaching, job search software featuring nine training modules, and a weekly, coach-led webinar on critical job search topics. After the training, which can last six months or longer, participants were able, among other things, to develop and carry out a job search action plan, create an effective resume and cover letter, evaluate one's career direction and transferable skills, and train and prepare for successful interviews.

One of the program's successful participants, now working in the insurance industry, said, “I really enjoyed working with my coaches at NextJob. If it hadn't been for their help, I would probably still be unemployed. They gave me such hope and empowered me. My self-esteem was very low when I first started working with NextJob, and they were able to make me see that there was a position out there for me if I believed in myself and used their tools to help me.”

We are proud to be the first bank to deliver this kind of assistance to borrowers. In January 2013, we signed a multi-year contract with NextJob to incorporate the offering of this training program to our customers, free of charge, into our standard way of conducting business.