Each May 3, the bank celebrates with money toward a college education.
Central Ohio Region President Francie Henry had “one of the most meaningful days I have experienced as a Fifth Third banker” in May, when she made the rounds to the maternity wards at Riverside Methodist Hospital, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Mount Carmel St. Ann’s to hand out college cash to unsuspecting mothers and families.
As part of an effort launched by staff in the bank’s Cincinnati headquarters, 89 Columbus babies got their “first” birthday gift in the form of $1,053 toward college this May 3. The bank has been celebrating the day matching its name since the 1990s, but decided to go beyond volunteering and customer appreciation with a program giving families cash to open a Fifth Third 529 savings account through their state or an educational institution.
The Fifth Third 529 Savings Account and CD options are part of a program offered through the CollegeAdvantage Direct 529 Savings Plan in partnership with the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority. The account offers a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for college costs. Timothy Gorrell, executive director of the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority, says this is one of only a few plans offered across the country that includes a banking product. Fifth Third and the Tuition Trust Authority have partnered for over 10 years. “Once they see that investment going in—it could be very modest—they’ll be encouraged and it’ll reinforce that investment,” he says. “Student loan debt in this country is $1.56 trillion.”
“I know firsthand just how quickly 18 years go by. Just having the opportunity to surprise and delight these families in such an impactful way was so incredibly special to me,” says Henry, who has been with Fifth Third for 33 years. “It’s really a way for us to help engage with our clients in a very personal matter,” she says.