CINCINNATI — Fifth Third Bancorp (Nasdaq: FITB) today issued the following statement regarding its participation in the AAA Scholarship Foundation Tax Credit Program in Florida:
"Fifth Third has a long history of supporting access to a quality education, whether public or private, as the foundation of our community commitment. We believe that support—whether in the form of scholarships or financial education—helps build stronger, more inclusive communities. We have a strong and well‑established commitment to inclusion and diversity. It's a core value of our Bank. That commitment includes supporting education opportunities and programs for all children. As such, we regularly review the programs we support for their consistency with those values.
In Florida, Fifth Third has participated in the AAA Scholarship Foundation Tax Credit program for three years. During that time, we have provided millions of dollars in scholarships through the program directly to 2,500 students and their families so that they could attend the participating school of their choice.
Recently that scholarship program has come under scrutiny following reports of discriminatory policies at some participating schools. After becoming aware of the issue, we communicated to AAA representatives last month that we would take a pause from future contributions.
Since then, we have conducted a comprehensive review of the program. We have looked at the annual performance evaluation mandated by the State of Florida, spoken to policy makers and community leaders in Florida and other constituencies, and held detailed conversations with AAA management about the program. Importantly, we have been assured that students and their families make the decision as to which schools best fit the individual student's educational needs. The choice is entirely up to them.
As a result of this thorough review and evaluation of the program, we believe that we can continue to support it, while adhering to our core values, under the following changes that AAA has agreed to implement:
- AAA will update its program guidelines to ensure full transparency to the families receiving scholarships from the program. AAA shares Fifth Third's desire to ensure parents have the opportunity to make informed choices. AAA has agreed to develop a roadmap to help parents navigate the school selection and application process. This roadmap will include identifying issues parents may wish to consider in choosing a school and informing parents about how they may access school-specific information or policies.
- Additional oversight through an annual meeting with AAA leadership to provide Fifth Third with an opportunity to assess the program and the impact our investment is having in the lives of students, and to ensure our expectation of transparency is being fulfilled.
We expect that these new measures will be implemented immediately and in effect for enrollment for the 2020–2021 school year in Florida, enabling our continued participation in the program.
Fifth Third is committed to supporting education and our communities. We support families and their right to choose the best school for their children."
About Fifth Third Bancorp
Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the indirect parent company of Fifth Third Bank, National Association, a federally chartered institution. As of December 31, 2019, Fifth Third had $169 billion in assets and operated 1,149 full-service banking centers and 2,481 ATMs with Fifth Third branding in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina. In total, Fifth Third provides its customers with access to approximately 53,000 fee-free ATMs across the United States. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Commercial Banking, Branch Banking, Consumer lending and Wealth & Asset Management. Fifth Third is among the largest money managers in the Midwest and, as of December 31, 2019, had $413 billion in assets under care, of which it managed $49 billion for individuals, corporations and not-for-profit organizations through its Trust and Registered Investment Advisory businesses. Investor information and press releases can be viewed at www.53.com. Fifth Third's common stock is traded on the Nasdaq® Global Select Market under the symbol "FITB." Fifth Third Bank was established in 1858. Deposit and Credit products are offered by Fifth Third Bank, National Association. Member FDIC.