MBA Financial Literacy Awards 

Congratulations to the 2023 Winners:

  • Bank of Ann Arbor
  • BayPort State Bank
  • ChoiceOne Bank
  • County National Bank
  • Huron Valley State Bank
  • Independent Bank
  • Isabella Bank
  • Mercantile Bank
  • Northpointe Bank
  • Range Bank
  • Southern Michigan Bank & Trust
  • Sturgis Bank and Trust 
  • The State Bank 
  • Thumb Bank & Trust 

MBA Financial Literacy Innovator Award 

2023 Financial Literacy Innovator Award Winner: Mercantile Bank

Habitat for Humanity of Kent County Partnership 

Congratulations to Mercantile Bank for being awarded the 2023 Innovator of the Year award at the annual MBA BEST Conference in April. To be considered for the Innovator of the Year award, the bank needs to highlight a successful new and innovative financial literacy program that the bank had conducted in the past year. To select the 2023 winner of this prestigious award, Annie Simon, Chair of the MBA Marketing Committee from Bay Port State Bank, and Tammy Williford, Vice Chair of the MBA Marketing Committee from Eastern Michigan Bank, reviewed each submission and ranked each in the following criteria: difficulty, employee involvement and community effect.  

The Winning Submission 
In 2022, Mercantile Bank developed a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County to provide financial education to participants in Habitat’s homeownership program as well as to residents in neighborhoods that Habitat was constructing homes in.  The classes were required for all new homebuyers that were approved to purchase a Habitat home and were promoted through social media, flyers and other outreach efforts to residents of the communities where new homes were being constructed. The innovative aspect of this program was that the financial education classes were supplemented with a one on one budgeting and credit coaching session for each individual participant.  Often times education alone is not sufficient for individuals to develop financial skills. The Bank felt that one-on-one sessions that would allow individuals to review their own financial situation, build a personalized spending and savings plan and get assistance with resolving credit challenges would help each participant apply the information that was taught in the class and help develop financial skills.  Most times when financial education classes are taught there is no follow up to ensure that participants are able to apply the information provided. This program is different and provides follow up to ensure that participants are able to develop the skills needed to better manage their finances. 

The Bank offered a total of eight classes that included the following topics: budgeting, savings, banking basics, credit and homeownership.  In order to accommodate the work schedules of the participants, classes were offered both in the morning and in the evening. During the banking basics class information on how to open an account as well as various account information was provided to participants. Each class participant was offered an individual coaching session and was asked to bring their monthly bills and a copy of their credit report for the one on one coaching session.  Bank volunteers assisted each participant in developing a budget and savings plan. Volunteers also reviewed credit reports with the participants and assisted participants with guidance on how to work through any negative credit references or collections. During these one on one coaching sessions employees also shared information regarding various bank products and services that could help participants manage their finances. Depending on the individual circumstances of the participants, these products included information regarding Mercantile Bank’s, MercStart Fresh Account, an account that the bank developed to help individuals re-establish a banking relationship and the Bank’s Credit Builder Loan Program which helps individual establish or re-establish their credit.  The Bank also ended the one-on-one coaching sessions with a celebration that included cake and certificates for the participants.  

There were 77 total participants and 8 bank volunteers that were involved in providing financial education and one-on-one coaching.