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For the fifth consecutive year the Institution for Savings has been named one of the region's top 50 corporate charitable contributors by the Boston Business Journal (BBJ) in its annual 2020 Corporate Citizenship Awards.

The BBJ annually publishes the list to showcase companies that promote and prioritize giving back to their communities — a feat that is even more important during times of turmoil and challenge.

“Charitable giving is one of the cornerstones of our vision of having a positive effect of every person, business and organization within the communities we serve which makes this recognition so gratifying,” said Institution for Savings President and Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Jones. “Supporting those in our communities who are struggling, particularly during these last six months, has never been more critical. We will continue to do everything we can to make a difference where it is needed the most.”

"During a year filled with unprecedented events and change, it’s incredible to think that this year’s list is the largest we have ever compiled," said BBJ Market President and Publisher Carolyn Jones. "Philanthropic companies like the Institution for Savings prioritize the welfare of our communities, and we are excited to be able to honor them.”

This year 107 companies — a record number — have qualified for recognition on the complete list by reporting at least $100,000 in cash contributions to Massachusetts-based charities and social-service nonprofits last year. The honorees this year include companies from health care, technology, financial and professional services, retail, professional sports and more.

The companies were honored at a virtual awards ceremony on September 10th.

The Institution for Savings recently awarded $20,000 scholarships to six graduating seniors throughout the North Shore, announced President & Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Jones today. The recipients were presented with their awards during their school’s respective virtual and/or commencement presentations during May and June.
 
The six scholarship recipients were: Jamie Bell, Triton Regional High School; Molly Elmore, Newburyport High School; Annie Gillis, Ipswich High School; Margaret Low, Masconomet Regional High School; Molly McAreavey, Gloucester High School; and Sage Seymour, Pentucket Regional High School. They were selected from approximately 300 applicants.
               
In announcing the recipients, Jones said: “Our vision at the Institution for Savings is to positively affect the lives of every person, business and organization within the communities we serve. These six deserving recipients demonstrate great leadership skills, high academic achievement and most importantly strong character. We wish them success in all of their future endeavors.”
               
The scholarships are offered to graduating seniors from public high schools in the communities where the Bank has offices including Amesbury, Beverly, Gloucester, Hamilton-Wenham, Ipswich, Masconomet Regional, Pentucket Regional, Newburyport, Rockport, Salem and Triton Regional High Schools. Eligible students must apply and/or have been accepted for admission at an accredited college or university; be among the top 50 students academically in the graduating class; and demonstrate traits consistent with the Bank’s vision.
               
For more information, visit the Bank’s Scholarship page.
NEWBURYPORT – It wasn’t exactly the scenario the head of the Institution for Savings had in mind when planning for the bank’s 200th anniversary year. But Michael Jones, the president and CEO, hopes the donation of 200 15-foot trees to the 13 communities where IFS has offices might send a message of hope in challenging times.
 
In January, Jones contacted leaders of 13 North Shore communities where the bank has offices with an offer to donate 200 trees to commemorate Earth Day, which is April 22, as well as the bank’s 200th anniversary. The bank had already planned a number of other “200-themed” activities to celebrate, including raising an anniversary flag in January and in February employees committed 200 “random acts of kindness.” In March, 200 mugs filled with breakfast foods were donated to Our Neighbors’ Table in Amesbury and The Open Door in Gloucester.
 
But the pandemic and state of emergency cancelled plans to unveil a commemorative plaque at the bank’s main office on State Street earlier this month.
 
Jones and Kim Rock, the executive vice president and chief operating officer, believed the donation of trees – a sign of stability and life – would be a positive sign for residents. Rock enlisted the bank’s longtime landscape contractor, Greg Southard of Riverfront Landscaping along with Steve Walfield, owner of Corliss Wholesale Supply in Ipswich. Walfield procured the 200 trees, a mixture of October Glory maples, Princeton elms and Yoshino cherry trees. Southard and his team delivered them to every community, a process that took a full week.
 
Jones said he hopes the tree plantings will provide some comfort to the communities served by the bank.
“We know this is a very challenging time for our customers and our communities,” he said. “If witnessing the planting of these beautiful trees that will grow and bloom for many years provides any sense of hope for better days to come, we have accomplished our goal.”
 
Officials in communities receiving the trees appreciated the gifts during this stressful time. Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday expressed her gratitude for all the bank has done for the city during the past two centuries. “As our world has been gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are witness once again to their generosity in the donating and planting of 200 trees in our communities. This act of kindness is heartening to see as a sign of life and hope during this unprecedented time,” she said in the release.
 
Tree Commission Chair Connie Preston said the commission “will be planting these trees and many more in the next few weeks and hope that the new trees will provide some hope during these challenging times.”
With the 200th anniversary of the Institution for Savings’ founding coinciding with the tenth year of its popular Credit for Life Fair attended annually by 1000+ North Shore high school eleventh graders, the Bank was hoping to ‘do it up big,’ according to Senior Vice President Mary Anne Clancy. But COVID-19 threw a wrench into those plans and with school cancelled for the remainder of the spring, it appeared that this year’s half-day event held at Masconomet Regional High School would be cancelled. Instead, Bank coordinators decided to make the event a virtual event “attended” by the students at home using laptops, cellphones and the Bank’s proprietary IFS Credit for Life Fair app that they had tested—successfully—at last year’s event. Further, the Bank enlisted the assistance of two sports dynamos to get out the message:  WCVB’s sports anchor icon Mike Lynch and New England Patriots recently signed linebacker Brandon Copeland.
 
“I am so happy that our internal Credit for Life planning team came up with such a creative way to deliver this important program to high school juniors,” said Michael J. Jones, the Bank’s President and CEO.  “Whether the students are walking up to booths in a field house or navigating the booths on their phone, the intent is the same:  to stay within their budget, put their needs ahead of their wants and most importantly, to learn important money lessons that will last them a lifetime. The app will give them the information, but in the end, it is the students who will have to make the right choices.  There’s no app that can do that for them.”
 
Lynch, a Harvard graduate, is no stranger to revving up high school students. His longtime ‘High 5” segment showcasing talents and stories of Massachusetts’ school athletes is itself temporarily on hold due to spring sports being cancelled, so when the Bank reached out, he was happy to assist.
 
“I happened upon the Fair a couple of years ago when I was scouting out a High 5 segment at Masco, and I was so impressed with how seriously the students were taking the event,” said Lynch. “I remember saying to someone at the time that I wished my own daughters had something like this when they were in high school. It is an incredibly important lesson that the Bank is teaching these students—something they hopefully will remember long after they leave high school.”
        
Copeland, when not engrossed in professional football, is passionate about teaching financial literacy. The University of Pennsylvania graduate teaches a class at his alma mater as well as classes to fellow NFL players and recently teamed up with Newton based FitMoney.org, a non-profit that offers a free, K-12 financial literacy curriculum to empower youth with the knowledge and skills that can lead to better financial outcomes. When he learned about the Credit for Life Fair concept-- also being done virtually at Andover High School--he offered to create a short video encouraging the students to participate. Videos made by both Lynch and Copeland promoting the important lessons of the Fair are on the Bank’s website, as well as on its YouTube page.
 
“Our initial reason for developing the app last year was to engage the students and provide the information they need other than the typical posters and PowerPoint presentations, and that seemed to work,” said Clancy. “With the infrastructure already in place to do this remotely, we just tweaked a few things and reached out to our 13 schools to see who might be interested in offering this remote learning opportunity to their students.”
 
As it turned out, every partner school jumped at the opportunity to offer it to their students.  Schools participating in the virtual event this year include Amesbury, Pentucket Regional, Newburyport, Triton Regional, Ipswich, Masconomet Regional, Hamilton-Wenham, Manchester-Essex, Landmark, Beverly, Swampscott, Gloucester and Rockport High Schools.
 
The goal of the Credit for Life Fair, said Clancy, is to help students understand the importance of balancing their budgets while still in school.  In past years, students chose a profession and were given personalized spending worksheets listing their monthly take home pay as well as a credit score, savings account and credit card spending limit. At the Fair, the students then travel around to 15 booths and purchase everything they need to live as 25-year old ‘professionals with paychecks':  housing, transportation, insurance, food, utilities and more, with the goal of staying within their budgets.
 
According to Clancy, the Fair will work very similar this year, only virtually.   All students will be emailed their worksheets from their schools and then will need to download the IFS Credit for Life app on their laptops, phones or tablets.  They will then use the app to visit the “booths” and choose the plans that fit their professions and salaries, recording their purchases on their spending worksheets.  Once they visit all booths, students then email their completed spending plans back to the Bank to be eligible for hundreds of gift cards.

In early 1820, 34 prominent citizens of the City of Newburyport sent a request to the Massachusetts General Court requesting to incorporate an institution "for the purpose of receiving money on deposit and investing the same to the best advantage of the owners thereof." On January 31, 1820, that charter was granted, creating the third savings bank in the Commonwealth: the Institution for Savings. Opening deposits totaling $465.10 were collected on the first day.

Now, 200 years later, the Institution for Savings is a $3.7 billion bank, but on the same path on which its was founded in 1820: making life better for its customers and its community. Earlier this week Institution for Savings President and CEO Michael J. Jones raised the 200th anniversary flag outside the Bank’s 93 State Street Main Office campus, officially kicking off a yearlong bicentennial celebration. The event was attended by the Bank’s employees, Board of Trustees, employees and customers.

“For 200 years we have provided our depositors with a safe and stable place to see their savings grow,” said Jones. “Our depositors have trusted us to lend their savings to their families, friends and neighbors to buy homes, businesses, automobiles, and finance education. Our financial success has allowed us to support local nonprofit organizations and causes to help those less fortunate and ensure that our community continues to be a good place to live and work. We are thrilled to be able to celebrate so many accomplishments and milestones throughout this year, and especially to say thank you to our loyal customers who have made this 200th anniversary milestone possible.”

In addition to flying the anniversary flag at all of the Bank’s offices, other things planned for the Bank’s bicentennial year include a dedicated website with information and historic photos (ifs200.com); a commemorative coin; a series of activities and events throughout the year marking 200 years; a historic wall calendar (now available at all offices); a video;  and a hardcover history of the Bank to be published later this year.