First Bank Commits to Technology in Education

Throughout its 100 year history, First Bank has been committed to being a responsible corporate neighbor and an active member of the communities in which it serves. More recently, First Bank pledged to collaboratively serve future leaders and innovators through its focused community-giving effort, now titled First Bank’s Next Generation.

At First Bank, the Next Generation focus means supporting education for underprivileged children, building mentorship programs, supporting leadership and exploration, creating new entrepreneurship opportunities, and helping kids get the most out of the world around them. Specifically, this means supporting educational programs and initiatives for school-aged children.

The 2020 pandemic has brought with it significant disruption and challenges for everyone, and school districts are certainly no exception. To help offset the large investment many school districts had to make in technology in order to support distance-learning, First Bank and members of the James F. Dierberg family announced their Education Technology Initiative. This important initiative commits $1 million over the course of the next three years to support technology needs for students and professional development for teachers.

“What we knew before the COVID-19 pandemic, has only been reinforced during the pandemic –students in under-resourced and minority communities are at a disadvantage relative to students in other neighborhoods,” said Michael Dierberg, Chairman of FB Corporation, the parent company of First Bank. “While all schools were unprepared for the disruption caused by the pandemic, the disruption has disproportionately impacted lower-income and minority families. The investment we are making will not only serve the students during the pandemic, but will also pave the way for schools in under-resourced communities to utilize technology to complement in-class instruction long into the future.”

First Bank will honor this Education Technology Initiative by:

  • Contributing $1 million over the next three years to support technology for students and professional educator development through our Education Technology Initiative.
  • Investing in quality primary and secondary education that serves economically-challenged youth.
  • Supporting programs that help youth thrive in the world around them through after-school support and programming, academic assistance, or life skill development. 

Stacy Clay, Director of Community Affairs, said, “Schools had to pivot incredibly quickly, even within days and weeks, to go to virtual learning, while providing every student with a laptop or device,” he said. “We knew there were significant costs associated with such a large-scale endeavor.”

To maximize the substantial, unplanned investment school districts made at the onset of the pandemic, First Bank realized a need to help educators utilize these resources to their fullest capabilities. As such, First Bank signed an agreement with St. Louis-based Maryville University, a national leader in distance learning, to launch a training program that will provide a professional development curriculum that’s focused on technology-assisted learning at select schools.

Clay said, “Early on, we reached out to the schools we already had a relationship with to gauge what was happening, what they needed, and how we could help,” he said. “Most districts said they could use help in not only the technology expenditures themselves but also training on how best to utilize them.”

First Bank wanted to help equip educators with the tools they need to leverage the robust technology infrastructure that will be in place once we’re beyond the pandemic and out of crisis mode. “For instance, we questioned how educators could make teaching effective and relevant for students at all levels of their education via video. That’s where the partnership with Maryville University comes in to help roll-out what distance learning can look like in high school, intermediate, and primary school environments.”

Clay continued that we’re going to come out of this pandemic one day, believe it or not, and our intent is for schools to continue to leverage this technology to further develop a robust distance learning structure. 

“Establishing this strategic partnership with Maryville allows First Bank to make a significant, long-term impact on the needs of students and educators in the years ahead,” said Shelley Seifert, Chief Executive Officer of First Bank.

If you’d like to find out more about First Bank’s Education Technology Initiative or its partnership with Maryville University, please watch the Educate.Today podcast at Episode #49: How Community Is Supporting Education or reach out to First Bank.