Front row, from left, Mike Cooper, first vice president of SunTrust Bank, Chattanooga; Dr. Suzanne Holt; Erin Looney, director of student success and retention; and Jonathan Lambert, Lee student and LEAP participant. Back row, from left, Angela Conner, vice president of community development, SunTrust; Marian Dill, director of financial aid; Jim Vaughn, East Tennessee region president; Michaelia Black, assistant director of institutional risk and compliance; and Vanessa Hammond, director of grants.
Lee University has received a $20,000 grant from SunTrust Foundation to support and expand Lee’s financial literacy program.
Financial literacy education will become a key component of Lee University’s LEAP (Learn Engage Achieve Program) and its new Student Success Center. Both programs support students to help them persist at Lee and complete a college degree. Financial stress is a significant obstacle to persistence for many college students, and financial literacy education plays an important role in helping them to stay in school and better prepare for the future, said officials.
LEAP serves a select group of 140 students who are low-income, first generation college students or those who have a disability. The Student Success Center serves all Lee students. LEAP staff and Success Center leaders and coaches will work with the Lee Financial Aid staff to offer financial literacy activities through several formats to all students. The financial literacy program will include workshops and events, promotion of financial literacy resources, staff training, and student participation incentives.
“We see financial literacy training for our students as a short-term investment with long-term benefits,” said Dr. Suzanne Holt, director of LEAP. “Lee University is extremely grateful to SunTrust for undergirding us in this endeavor.”
This program will equip over 3,000 students with the knowledge and tools needed to make healthy financial decisions to support their educational and future goals.
“The SunTrust Foundation is pleased to provide Lee University with a grant to expand their financial literacy offering and assist first-generation college students gain financial confidence,” said Jim Vaughn, SunTrust region president for Eastern Tennessee. “We know that college expenses can cause financial stress, and we want to help relieve some of that so that students can move forward and earn their degree.”
The SunTrust Foundation is dedicated to the company’s purpose of Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being by engaging organizations to advance financial confidence. Grants and activities focus primarily on financial empowerment, but also include education, health and human services, civic improvement and cultural growth. The SunTrust Foundation supports American Red Cross disaster relief efforts and contributes as a United Way Global Corporate Leader. Established in 2008, the SunTrust Foundation has proudly provided grants totaling more than $112 million throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.