Associated Bank recently donated $10,000 to Make A Difference – Wisconsin to help support their mission of providing financial literacy programs and resources that empower students to make sound financial decisions.

Make A Difference – Wisconsin, a non-profit agency founded in 2006 to teach personal money management skills to high school students, has received over $10,000 annually from Associated since the program’s inception in 2006. As one of the founding contributors to Make A Difference – Wisconsin, Associated has a vested interest in the 6,000 Wisconsin high school students that benefit from the program each year.

“Associated Bank truly believes in the mission of Make A Difference – Wisconsin and not only provides financial support each year, but dozens of volunteers in many markets as well,” said Murray Friedman, director of retail marketing, Associated Bank, and board member with the organization.

Associated’s volunteerism program is nothing new to the bank’s three-state footprint, though this year started the beginning of a new journey in enhancing its financial literacy volunteer program designed to leverage colleagues’ unique skills sets, financial expertise and personal drive to make a difference in the communities where we live and work.

“Through our colleagues’ collective efforts, we can provide hundreds of individuals and children with the tools and basic knowledge they need to better manage their money and make effective financial decisions,” said Andrew Ruehl, corporate social responsibility manager, Associated Bank.

All colleagues at Associated can volunteer with the financial literacy program regardless of their current role or professional background. Colleagues are placed in positions that best match their comfort level, skills and interests.

“Over thirty Associated colleagues are active volunteers in the classroom through Make A Difference – Wisconsin, providing financial management skills to high school students,” said Ruehl. “Last year, two Associated colleagues were recognized by Make A Difference for their efforts.”

Michelle Goetzke, bank manager at Waterford, Wis. and Irina Kwiatkowska, district manager of the Southeastern Wisconsin district were recognized for their contributions with the Volunteer of the Day Award by Make A Difference – Wisconsin.

“I loved my time at the Waterford High School,” said Goetzke. “Providing this information to the seniors was an educational experience for both of us and I look forward to doing it again.”

Goetzke was so excited to start. She won a prize from Make A Difference – Wisconsin for the quickest start. She found out about the program, signed up, completed online training and was in the classroom within 24 hours.

Kwiatkowsk agreed. “I enjoyed spending time with the students at Burlington High School and hopefully made a difference in their future financial life.”

“We were pleased to recognize Michelle and Irina for their volunteer efforts and enthusiasm,” said Brenda Campbell, executive director of Make A Difference – Wisconsin. “Without a strong volunteer base, we would not be able to deliver this programming that is so beneficial to our teens and young adults. Our outcomes show that the program does have a significant positive impact on students’ financial behaviors and attitudes.”

Associated’s financial literacy volunteer program will continue to grow.

“Our goal is to connect each colleague skill set to nonprofits that match those skill sets in order to have the best possible outcome,” said Ruehl. “We are working toward a team of at least 400 volunteers who are ready to help serve the financial literacy needs of our communities.”

John McDonald (left), attorney, Godfrey & Kahn, and board president at Make A Difference – Wisconsin and Lloyd Levin (right), founder, Make A Difference – Wisconsin, accept a check from Murray Friedman, director of retail marketing, Associated Bank, and board member for Make A Difference – Wisconsin.