Bank’s redirected altruism leaves foundation frustrated
For the Roaring Fork Education Foundation, having Alpine Bank reorganize its Classroom Credits program was like having the rug pulled out from underneath it.
Since 1997, Alpine Bank of Glenwood Springs has turned over all the proceeds of its Classroom Credits debit card program to the foundation.
“The idea for the bankcard was a project between the bank and the school district,” said Roaring Fork Re-1 School District Superintendent Fred Wall.
In fact, a district staff person came up with the idea, he said.
“We shopped it around (to other banks) and Alpine agreed,” Wall added.
For every new card account that customers open at any Alpine Bank, education foundations in the bank’s service area of Garfield, Pitkin, Mesa, Summit, Eagle and Routt counties receive $10. Each swipe of the card also nets the foundations 10 cents, said Alpine Bank vice president of marketing John Cooper.
Education foundations have received $350,000 since the program’s inception. Re-1 has received $120,000.
The monies go directly to teachers for classroom and school projects, Cooper said.
Because of the success of the program, earlier this year Alpine decided to expand to other educational programs, including Junior Achievement and Computers For Kids.
But the decision to reduce the foundation’s only source of funding hit the school district hard, Wall said.
“The school district feels the agreement between the two parties was brought to the bank by the school district. The school district feels it owns part of the card by mutual agreement,” Wall said. “We felt they unilaterally broke the contract.
“They don’t look at us as partners, but as donors that they’d donate to or not,” he said.
Alpine Bank has also said it will donate $30,000 this year to the foundation.
“But it’s not guaranteed after that. That’s a little bit hard to swallow. It was the major source of funding for the educational foundation,” Wall said.
He also said he was frustrated that the bank has not answered his letters.
“The conversation has stopped,” he said. “They had a right to change the contract, but they’re unwilling to hear another perspective. We always hoped there would be some resolution. But it didn’t happen. It just ended.”
Cooper said the bank is still committed to funding education, but it would like to branch out to other organizations.
“By restructuring, we are able to include additional organizations. We’re just rethinking the whole program to be more inclusive,” Cooper said.
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