Bank delivers on 'Investing With You' campaign
A bank has presented four schools in communities within its footprint with checks as part of its “Investing With You” campaign.
Ionia-based Independent Bank said last week that its $5,000 donations to each school represent the first of three phases of its $60,000 campaign.
"Investing With You" lets the public nominate and vote on local organizations in need of a financial donation and in counties served by Independent Bank.
Tricia Raquepaw, director of marketing, said this year’s campaign builds on the donation program from last year when the bank celebrated its 150th anniversary.
“We wanted to celebrate it with our employees as well,” Raquepaw said. “We let them wear jeans every Friday as long as they donated $1.50, and we then gave back to communities. This year, we wanted our communities to help decide where the funds went.”
Based on the $1.50 contributions from employees and the bank’s matching funds each week, the accumulated amount will be donated to different local organizations.
The first phase targeted four schools that are located within 10 miles of an Independent Bank branch and are a public, private or nonprofit charter institution.
She said the bank decided to "incorporate some of our community members and let them decide which schools were deserving."
"We hear a lot about cutbacks at the school level, so we thought that the schools would really find value in receiving additional dollars," Raquepaw said.
"Viral" voting process
More than 475 qualified schools were nominated from April 1-15 by Michigan residents who were at least 18, and the four finalists were selected based on receiving more than 7,000 votes from April 29-May 13.
The four winning schools are Trinity Lutheran Monitor School in Bay City, Our Lady of Lake Huron Catholic School in Harbor Beach, DeWitt High School in DeWitt and Oxbow Elementary in White Lake.
Raquepaw said the participation rate exceeded the bank’s expectations with so many schools being nominated and 12,000 votes cast on the first day. More than 80,000 votes were cast overall.
“It is huge, because the only schools that qualified were in our footprint. That is a lot of schools within that area,” Raquepaw said. “It really went viral.”
The cumulative $20,000 donated to the four schools will be used in a number of ways, including upgraded classroom furniture, updated literacy materials and expanded technology, purchasing Bibles for the Gospel Nets mission and building a greenhouse to support science classes.
“It was an absolutely fantastic campaign for us, and we were really excited to go to the schools and present the checks,” Raquepaw said. “It was amazing the amount of people that were there, not only the students, but board members and community members.”
Independent Bank will announce the second phase of the campaign in July, which will run until September. Although the bank hasn’t finalized the details, Raquepaw said the funds will be designated for nonprofits.
The third phase of the campaign will occur from October through December of this year.