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Banking on our kids.

City National Bank of New Jersey, First Fidelity Bank and the Amelior Foundation have teamed up to fund an innovative program that gives over 650 inner-city Newark, N.J., teens an opportunity to become stockholders in one of the nation's largest black-owned banks. All they have to do is graduate from high school. The program provides a model that can be used by other financial institutions to create economic opportunities for disadvantaged youth, teaching them to appreciate property ownership and business principles by introducing them to investing and banking.

First Fidelity and the Amelior Foundation are funding the program. First Fidelity provided $332,500 in grants to purchase stock in City National in the name of five non-profit organizations. The Amelior Foundation also purchased $300,000 in City National stock. City National, ranked No. 21 on the 1992 BE FINANCIALS LIST with assets of $51.3 million, then distributes the stock to participants of the READY Foundation (Rigorous Educational Assistance for Deserving Youth), a private charitable organization in Morristown, N.J. The bank gives each of the 650 READY participants $500 worth of stock based on the market value (The stock earns 6% interest per year). When the youths graduate from high school, they may sell or retain their shares of the bank. Saul Cooperman, president and CEO of READY says, "We want to give these kids a financial incentive to graduate from high school. At the same time the program strengthens a minority-owned bank's capital position, expanding the vital role it can play in the financial life of Newark."

Five Newark public schools participate in the READY program. READY offers a wide range of services to students in grades 1-12 and their families. For students, the READY programs provides after-school academic classes, character and values development, critical thinking skills training, entrepreneurial training and a mentoring program. Parents of READY participants can sign up for literacy classes and money management seminars. Although the stock ownership program is new, READY has offered the other services since 1987.

City National president and CEO Louis Prezeau, says, "This is not only an opportunity to give hope to hundreds of Newark kids, but the program will expand our ability to provide more financial services to the urban communities of New Jersey." He says experiencing this program can help create a new class in the inner city. "If we can motivate these youngsters, I can envision a day when some of our major customers, shareholders, employees and maybe even our future bank president will come from their ranks," says Prezeau.
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Title Annotation:Newark, New Jersey stock ownership program
Author:Flanders, Tanea
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Dec 1, 1992
Words:425
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