A Promise Worth Keeping

Article excerpt

The New York Museum of Modern Art. United Airlines. The National Basketball Association. Landscape architects. Miss America. Kareem Abdul Jabar. The American Hospital Association. A growing number of banks of every size across America. And even Idaho license plates.

What all of these organizations, professionals, celebrities, and a host of other groups I haven't mentioned share is that they are all partners with General Colin Powell and "America's Promise." General Powell leads a growing volunteer coalition of some of the finest organizations and public leaders in America today, all dedicated to helping America's young people get the start on life so many of them need. Banks, too, are lining up by the hundreds--826 as of this writing--to give kids and youth hope, skills, and encouragement for the future. The ABA invites you to join us, as well.

The symbol of "America's Promise" is a child's red wagon, the kind many of us remember from childhood. It takes a helping hand to pull a red wagon, and many hands can pull many wagons. Or as Colin Powell says, "If we all pitch in, we can make the American Dream live again for the next generation and the next century. We can keep America s Promise."

I had an opportunity to meet Colin Powell in person recently. His credibility as a spokesperson and his passion for the task are undeniable. I came away convinced that he is truly an inspirational leader, a man of deep convictions, and a tireless advocate for young people.

How can your bank help in the effort to provide America's youth with access to the resources they need to grow into successful adults? You can join with the ABA and America's Promise by agreeing to provide some or all of five "fundamental resources" for young people in your community. The five fundamental resources of America's Promise are:

* establishing a relationship with a caring adult mentor, tutor, or coach;

* creating a safe place with structured activities where young people can learn and grow during nonschool hours;

* ensuring kids a healthy start in life;

* providing the opportunity for young people to learn a marketable skill through effective education; and

* providing kids and young people a chance to give back through community service.

Most bankers have people on their staffs who are already excellent mentors and coaches. Or maybe there's a way the bank can welcome young people after school. …