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Empowering Students: U.S. Bank’s eMentor Program Enhances Financial Literacy


Empowering Students: U.S. Bank’s eMentor Program Enhances Financial Literacy
The eMentor initiative by U.S. Bank, aimed at preparing students for college, careers, and adulthood through financial education and literacy support, recently concluded its autumn sessions. Over 500 employee mentors were matched with mentees during these sessions.
The initiative provides high school and college students, particularly those from diverse, underserved, or low- to moderate-income communities, the opportunity to interact with volunteer mentors from U.S. Bank. These mentors assist students in their journey towards college and career readiness, offering personal finance advice.
The UStrive virtual platform, supported by the nonprofit UStrive.org, is used for communication between employees and students. This platform allows mentors and mentees to interact in a manner that suits them best, be it through secure video chats or text messages.
The platform also offers a variety of college and career resources, including videos on topics like budgeting, credit, debt, fraud, saving, investing, and paying for college. These resources aim to provide students with a solid understanding of personal finance and wealth creation strategies. Students participating in the program are eligible for a $1,000 scholarship draw.
Shannon Morelos, a recent mentor from the bank’s Finance Enabling Functions team based in Kentucky, leveraged her experience as a first-generation college student and her financial background to guide her mentee, a freshman high school student, in planning for life post-high school.
The mentee was eager to learn about various budgeting guidelines, savings strategies, and how to financially support himself in college. He was not only engaged with the modules but also took the initiative to conduct further research independently.
Recognizing the interest of many employees in mentoring opportunities outside of large group settings, U.S. Bank initiated a pilot of the eMentor program in 2021. This autumn, the program saw participation from over 500 mentor-mentee pairs over a span of three months. The bank intends to make eMentor a year-round program in 2024.
The virtual mentoring program is designed to facilitate connections between mentors and mentees across different locations and time zones via a secure platform. It also accommodates their busy schedules. Many mentors have expressed their appreciation for the one-on-one format, which allows them to understand the students better and provide guidance on topics most relevant to each student.
Morelos also assisted her mentee in navigating the job search process, which led to him securing his first job. She also advised him on selecting high school courses that would provide a strong foundation for college.
Morelos, in addition to mentoring, also gained valuable insights for her own life. She found the financial planning modules particularly useful, especially considering her student debt and recent home purchase. She plans to apply the tools and knowledge she acquired to her personal financial management.
Jirard Washington, a fraud analyst at U.S. Bank residing in Florida, mentored two students this fall. This experience allowed him to revisit his high school days and helped the students grasp the broader aspects of personal finance and future planning. Washington shared, “Interacting with the high school students made me reminisce about my own thoughts during my high school years. I wondered how I would afford a car or an apartment once I started earning. The first concept I introduced them to was personal finance budgeting, the cornerstone of all money matters. I believe that if you can’t manage your budget correctly, you won’t be able to afford a house or a car in the future at the most favorable interest rate.”
Dolon Bose, a program manager in Consumer and Business Banking based in Massachusetts, has previously volunteered as a mentor. However, this was her first time mentoring on the subject of personal finance. She found the UStrive platform conducive to facilitating discussions with her two student mentees. While personal finance topics served as a starting point, their discussions also encompassed college testing, application preparation, time management skills, and factors to consider when selecting a college and career path. Bose appreciated the structured nature of the UStrive program, which provided a plan, a calendar, and topic suggestions for discussions.

The mentors expressed that their positive experiences have motivated them to continue contributing to the program and making a difference in the lives of students.
“I want to know when I retire for the evening that I did something impactful for someone else. I always will encourage individuals to give back to someone else,” said Washington.
“You can see yourself making a tangible difference in someone’s life,” said Bose.
“Students are really thankful to get an opportunity to connect with experienced professionals from the financial world who can answer their questions. It’s just a little bit of investment of time and energy and it’s an incredible return that you get.”