When Barbara Schroeder was in her twenties, she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease and needed to have surgery. She was working as a retail clerk at the time, but her employer didn't offer medical benefits.
"Not many people in their twenties anticipate having a serious illness and a major surgery," Barbara said. "After I recovered, I wanted to get a job with a company that provided employee benefits."
Her local government office suggested she reach out to Ramsey County Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC), a workforce readiness program that taught Minnesotans the skills they need to succeed professionally. That decision changed Barbara's life.
After enrolling in Ramsey County OIC, Barbara learned a variety of professional skills, including filing, proofing, key boarding and data entry. Through the program, she met a woman who worked as a proof operator for First Bank System, which later became part of U.S. Bank.
"I thought the job sounded really interesting," Barbara said. "This gal introduced me to someone I could interview with, and I landed a proof operator job."
It was the start of a lifelong career in banking. Over the years, Barbara worked as a corrections clerk, process coordinator, supervisor and manager. Today, Barbara works as a financial analyst on U.S. Bank's financial operations team. She's been with the bank for more than 25 years, and she also met her husband, Kevin, at work.
"Ramsey County OIC put me on a path to a good career with U.S. Bank – one that I’ve found tremendously satisfying over the years," Barbara said. "I’ve encountered some challenges, but I feel like I made the most out of every opportunity that came my way."
U.S. Bank's $250,000 "challenge grant" to support workforce readiness
Barbara's story is just one reason why U.S. Bank supports workforce readiness organizations like Summit Academy OIC – a nonprofit in Minneapolis. In December, the bank donated a $250,000 grant to the organization’s "1,000 GED Campaign." The first-of-its-kind program enables individuals to earn a GED and then become certified in a construction or health care specialty in only 30 weeks.
U.S. Bank, the first corporation to fund the campaign aimed at reaching 1,000 GEDs by 2020, challenged other corporations to contribute when it made the grant.
"We support vibrant communities that allow every person to work toward their own potential. Summit provides a pathway to education and also valuable certifications, which help individuals succeed and thrive in the workforce," said Andy Cecere, president and chief operating officer of U.S. Bank and a cabinet member of Summit Academy OIC. In addition, Bill Parker, vice chairman and chief risk officer of U.S. Bank, serves on the organization's board.
This grant aligns with U.S. Bank’s Community Possible corporate social responsibility platform, which focuses its giving and volunteerism on creating opportunities for Work, Home and Play in its communities.
The bank’s support for workforce development programs like Summit Academy OIC is an investment in people, like Barbara, who make the most of those opportunities.