Group President in Omaha, demonstrating the power of saving early at an elementary school in Omaha.

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Education Matters

“This past year, Great Western Bank increased donations to local non-profit organizations by 14% to help fund important programs promoting financial literacy, economic development, affordable housing, and more. Recognizing community reinvestment is more than just financial support, our employees donated their own time to help improve the communities we serve.”

Ken Karels | Chairperson, President & Chief Executive Officer

Millionaire for a Day

Teaching Financial Literacy to our Youth

Every April, Great Western Bank celebrates Financial Literacy Month by helping young people in our local communities develop money management skills and smart spending habits. In April 2019, Great Western Bank teamed up with the CUES (Christian Urban Education System) School System in Omaha, Nebraska for something special.

The CUES School System is a bold educational initiative providing centralized leadership and governance to three urban elementary schools, all which serve low-income students and families in Omaha. CUES combines innovative instructional methods with comprehensive student and family support in a Catholic faith-based environment to create and sustain excellent and measurable outcomes that not only impact the students they serve but also the entire community.

For a chance to be awarded $300 – the interest accrued on a million dollars in a day – more than 200 students in the CUES systems were asked to write and submit an article as part of an essay contest on what they would do if they had a million dollars. The judges had a difficult time choosing just one winner so the school administration decided to select a winning essay from each school in the CUES system, awarding each recipient $100. On April 30, Great Western Bank employees visited all three schools and presented checks to the winning students. Great Western Bank staff members spent time talking to all the students about the importance of financial education.

All Saints School


Chris Wiedenfeld, Great Western Bank Regional President, discussed “Wants vs. Needs” with 55 students at All Saints School and recognized seventh grader Olivia Riera as an essay winner. Each student and teacher were provided a colorful financial booklet to continue the financial conversation in the classroom.

“Financial literacy is a crucial skill and can help students avoid many of the mistakes that can lead to money struggles later in life,” said Wiedenfeld. “The basics of money management like budgeting, saving, debt, investing, and giving are taught as age-appropriate concepts that students can build upon as they progress in school. The goal is that we’re arming these students with the right tools to be successful financially later in life.”

Holy Name School


Corinne Safford, Vice President and Retail Regional Manager, presented Houston Mckell from Holy Name School $100 for his essay about what he would do with a million dollars. Safford visited Holy Name and spoke to 66 low-income sixth, seventh and eighth graders about the importance of budgeting and “Wants vs. Needs.”

“Teaching budgeting to this age group is fun and a great way to begin financial wellness discussions,” said Safford. “We want them to be knowledgeable about personal finances and learn the importance of budgeting. Hopefully, we’ve increased their confidence and encouraged them to start thinking about personal finances.”

Sacred Heart Catholic School


Ariana Hunter from Sacred Heart Catholic School received $100 presented by Dan Gomez, Senior Vice President and Commercial Lending Manager, for her essay about what she would do with a million dollars. In her essay, Ariana stated she wanted to donate her money to help the Nebraska flood victims, as well as donate to the Stephen Center homeless shelter and humane society, the latter because of her great love for animals.

Gomez presented “Wants vs. Needs” to 40 sixth, seventh and eighth graders at Sacred Heart.

“Explaining to children the difference between wants and needs can be difficult,” said Gomez. “But teaching them this difference will set them up with the proper financial priorities that will benefit them later in life. My hope is that they walked away from our discussion with clear ideas about how budgeting will benefit them – and maybe they’ll be able to share that knowledge with someone else.”

Read the winning essays




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