Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

More Bankers Doing More

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

More Bankers Doing More

Article excerpt

LAST FALL, THE COMMUNITY Foundation of Middle Tennessee awarded banker Jim Ayers, chairman of FirstBank, Lexington, Tenn., with their annual humanitarian award, presented to individuals who best exemplify a commitment to the community and to people in need.

So what did he do to earn that recognition?

Jim Ayers made a simple promise to himself and his community several years ago. He set up the Ayers Foundation in 2000 to make it possible for any student in Decatur County, Tenn. to go to college--whether or not they had the money to pay for tuition. The Ayers Scholarship Program now provides funds for every student in the county who's accepted to a college or technical school and needs financial help. Since the fall of 2000, the Foundation has given as much as $4,000 a year in scholarships to high school graduates. And Ayers has also made sure that students know about the scholarship program and get the help from high school counselors to find out about other kinds of financial aid available at dozens of colleges, universities and technical schools.

Ayers is not only a banker, but a businessman who has been successful in several fields, from health care to real estate. He's also active, as are many community bankers, in civic, educational and charitable organizations. FirstBank, with $1 billion in assets and branches throughout middle and western Tennessee, has come a long way since he started the bank in 1984. Today, it is Tennessee's largest independent bank and still practices good old-fashioned community-based banking.

Scholarships are a great way to underwrite your commitment to the community, and it doesn't have to take a major financial commitment. For instance, First National Bank, Vermillion, S.D., began a "Student of the Month" program at the local high school in 1997. Each month the bank awards $100 scholarships to two high school seniors. The bank's $1,600 annual commitment is in addition to a $500 scholarship awarded by the bank's board of directors each year to a Vermillion High School senior. …

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