How PNC is Investing in Early Childhood Education with Sarah Bowman

How PNC is Investing in Early Childhood Education with Sarah Bowman

We’ve seen through numerous studies the significant return on investment that can come from having a really high quality early childhood education experience and that has become a really important cause to PNC.

Sarah Bowman

Today’s guest is Sarah Bowman, Vice President & Director of Client and Community Relations at PNC. Sarah sat down with Staci to discuss PNC’s Grow Up Great Program, collaborating with Sesame Street Workshop, and helping build a stronger local economy through investment in early childhood education.

Sarah’s personal K-12 story

  • Early childhood education is a huge part of her story.
  • She was in an in-home education environment before kindergarten.
  • She went to public school from K-8 in the same building.
  • Adjusting to high school was a bit jarring.
  • She was able to settle into her own education experience since she didn’t have to move around so often.

What is the PNC Grow Up Great Program?

  • The PNC Grow Up Great Program is a $500 Million, multilingual, multi-year commitment to early childhood education. 
  • It’s about ensuring that all children in the communities where we operate have access to high quality early childhood education in order to set them up for success in school and in life.
  • “We’ve seen through numerous studies the significant return on investment that can come from having a really high quality early childhood education experience and that has become a really important cause to PNC.”
  • PNC is celebrating our 20th anniversary of our commitment to that cause.

Can you talk more about the outcome of this investment in the community?

  • Some of the returns have been as high as 13% or even 17% of a return on investment.
  • That can come from an increase in their own earnings, dollars that are not then deployed to recidivism, the economic benefits for the household as well that the parents and caregivers are able to, while knowing and trusting that their children are in high quality places where they’re well cared for, that they then can go and earn their own dollars that are reinvested in the community.

In this investment, what are some of the areas of opportunities that you guys have highlighted as potential challenges or ways that your investment could be of impact in the city and early childhood education?

  • “A lot of that education success is is determined by third grade proficiency reading levels…And so PNC a few years ago invested in Turn the Page STL to help start. We were one of the funders that helped them really take that from a dream to a reality”
  • Organization is its own 501c3

Who’s eligible for the funds and what types of projects do you guys support?

  • There are four pillars of the program: Grant funding, advocacy, work awareness and volunteerism
  • Each employee every year has 40 hours paid time off to volunteer at an approved early childhood center
  • There’s also benchmarks that they can earn grants that then go back to those centers where they’re volunteering
  • The awareness piece that comes through national partnerships like Sesame Street Workshop, the Fred Rogers Production Company, or the Head Start Association.
  • “We are bankers. We’re not early childhood educators, but so we want our work to be guided by those that are in the field and the system working and ensuring that the support that we’re giving really aligns with what are the needs in the communities and where we may be able to make impact.”
  • That awareness includes making resources available for parents and caregivers. 
  • Advocacy is also a key part of what we do, and that’s making our leadership available to speak on behalf of the importance of early childhood education and also advocating for that when we’re speaking with legislators and reminding them that this is a very important cost to PNC as well
  • PNC has grant dollars that are available to 501c3 organizations

How did the collaboration with Sesame Street come about?

  • Cookie Monster came to Saint Louis when we celebrated our 15th anniversary of our commitment to Grow Up Great
  • The partnership started just years ago when PMC was developing this cause related marketing effort and realized we need to be sure they’re able to make the biggest impact
  • That relationship with Sesame Street Workshop has resulted in several community resources as activity books that are available to our community

What other initiatives are you all supporting in Saint Louis City and do you have any success stories of the impact that you’d like to share?

  • Nationally, our investment with the Fred Rogers Company that provided the funding to start Almost Way, a production that runs on PBS Kids. 
  • It is the story of a Latino girl living in the Bronx. It was it’s a demographic that was really unrepresented in PBS programing. And so when PNC learned that this was in consideration, we were so eager to be a part of it

What do you think for PNC is the overall goal with the initiative of Grow Up Great in the end, just looking at PNC in Saint Louis, what do you think is the hope for community impact?

  • Ultimately it’s about creating stronger communities, stronger economies
  • When our our communities are better, our people are better

What’s the benefit to working at an organization that really values being a corporate citizen in the community that you work in?

  • It’s helped give her a leg up on navigating the school system with her own children and helping others do the same
  • It is this knowledge of being able to give back to use those 40 hours to be part of a company that truly does care about the communities in which they operate. 

As we wrap up, can you tell us what that celebration has going to look like and what people can look forward to as this program grow?

  • In April they will be announcing some investments they’re making
  • The community can keep an eye out for investments that are really relevant to the needs of our community at this time.