Associated Bank in East St. Louis, Illinois, recently collaborated with the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation to provide a 10-week financial literacy class for students of the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Head Start Program at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Head Start Center.

“Financial literacy is extremely important” said Joyner-Kersee. “In our community, many people don’t use banks; rather, they go to grocery stores and check cashing places to conduct financial transactions. In doing so, they can be taken advantage of without realizing it, by having to pay exorbitant fees among other things.”

After receiving an anonymous donation, Associated Bank provided graduates of the class with a $1,000 check — $300 for themselves and $700 for their child or grandchild — to start Bright Start savings accounts. Associated Bank colleagues plan to keep in touch with graduates by offering personal financial coaching and consultation as needed as well as monthly contacts to review how graduates are monitoring their accounts and making smart financial decisions.

“This is an intense 10-week financial literacy course that can hopefully change the lives and futures of these parents and their children,” said Phil Hickman, community bank president. “We are proud to have partnered with the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville to bring this effort to life.”

The mission of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation has long been to empower children and families to win in life. Part of that mission is also to empower them to succeed financially. This program is just one of the ways the Kersee Foundation is able to deliver on their mission, and they plan to continue the courses again this fall.

“We want to continue enriching the lives of people in this community,” added Joyner-Kersee. “I was glad that we were able to help SIEU Head Start families, and I look forward to extending this program.”

The SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start Program is a nationally recognized quality early childhood education program that promotes school readiness for children and financial self-sufficiency for families. Services are available to St. Clair County expectant parents and families of children ages six weeks to five years old. The SIUE Head Start/Early Head Start Program provides services to 1,314 children and families and the Early Head Start Program serves 188 children and families. Both programs include children with specialized needs and English as Second Language Learners (ESL). The SIUE Head Start /Early Head Start Program is the winner of six National Head Start Association Awards. Its mission is to provide quality individualized comprehensive services that empower children, families, and staff from diverse backgrounds in order to achieve success.

The Jackie-Joyner Kersee Foundation - Jackie Joyner-Kersee is committed to ensuring that all children have access to high quality after-school programs, safe recreational places within their communities, and caring adults to help them achieve their dreams. Jackie launched the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation in Los Angeles and moved it to East St. Louis in 1995. Inspired by the closing of her neighborhood community center, Jackie grew the Foundation by raising over $12 million to expand programming and built a comprehensive youth and sports.