As part of our commitment to America's Promise, KBA staff distributes books

"I LIKE ME!" Books a Hit with Kindergartners
Over the lunch hour on a week day in late December, the staff of the Kansas Bankers Association caravaned to State Street Elementary in Topeka to enjoy the company of the school's kindergartners and to deliver to each student a personalized book called "I Like Me." From the moment the twenty of us found our way to the cheery classrooms filled with artwork and posters and primary colors, the kids had stories to tell and questions to ask and energy in spades. "Did you know I have a dog?" . . . "Well, my mommy's visiting Mexico right now." . . . "What is your favorite color?" . . . "I have a new baby brother" . . . "What's your name?" Once the three classes of kindergartners got settled in one room, found places to sit on the floor and introductions were made, KBA staff members took turns calling out children's names and giving them their books. Gradually the noise level escalated as each child received and opened the book, and saw his or her name, along with the names of his or her friends, teacher and principal, throughout the book's text. Once all books were distributed and the kids had a chance to look at their books and show them to others, they returned to their respective three classrooms with KBA staff members to enjoy conversation, cookies and punch before they got on with their day.

The KBA staff chose State Street Elementary and the "I Like Me" book program as a way of bringing to life their commitment to becoming involved with Colin Powell's America's Promise. In addition to providing these special books to kindergartners who might otherwise have to go without, KBA staff members go to the school once a week to read to the kindergartners.

Kindergartners Count, Inc.
The "I Like Me" reading enhancement/self-concept development program was created by John Shoemaker of Topeka and has been implemented internationally. Working with partners and organizations, Kindergartners Count, Inc. works to make the program available to children across North America. The hard-bound, personalized book and 12-week development program was developed to instill a love of reading, foster positive self-concept, create positive associations toward school and learning, encourage positive and acceptable behavior mannerisms, and promote interaction among children, parents, educators and businesses. Often referred to as a good citizenship program, "I Like Me!" communicates anti-drug and anti-gang messages, and illustrates gender sensitivity, cultural diversity and the inclusion of people with disabilities.

Kansas Bankers and America's Promise
In July of 1999, the KBA announced that it was officially becoming a "Partner of Promise," in conjunction with a nationwide banking initiative to support America's Promise. Kansas bankers have shown their enthusiasm for that commitment by signing on in large numbers to become "Banks of Promise." Currently, Kansas ranks third in the country in the number of banks who have committed to focus their combined talents and resources to improve the lives of our nation's youth.

The thrust of America's Promise is to reach out to America's youth in ways that will help them lead happy, healthy and productive lives. According to research that's been compiled, more than any other time in recent history our nation's young people believe that the American Dream is out of their reach. Juvenile crime is at an all-time high, teen suicide has doubled, school dropout rates are at record levels and more than 3 million children are reported abused every year. America's Promise believes that every young person should have a chance at the American Dream and an opportunity to lead a productive and fulfilling life. To that end, America's Promise is committed to ensuring that every young person in America receives the five America's Promise Fundamental Resources, necessary for them to lead a successful life:

  • an ongoing relationship with a caring adult-mentor, tutor or coach;
  • access to safe places and structured activities during non-school hours;
  • a healthy start;
  • a marketable skill through effective education, and;
  • an opportunity to give back through community service.

For bankers, the beauty of the relationship with America's Promise is that in so many cases banks were already doing just the type of community outreach that America's Promise promotes, and it offers banks more opportunity to share their efforts with their customers and community.

Criteria for becoming an America's Promise Commitment Maker

In order to be recognized as an official America's Promise commitment maker, each bank, corporation, non-profit organization, or foundation is required to make a commitment that meets the following criteria:

  • Assist children or youth and, to the extent possible, be directed to those children who are most in need;
  • Be directed toward one or more of the five fundamental resource areas;
  • Be quantifiable and measurable;
  • Extend above and beyond any current or ongoing programs;
  • Have a clear plan for implementation and tracking results, and;
  • Be appropriate to the proportional size of the organization.
If your bank would like to become involved with America's Promise, please contact the KBA for an application. For more I Like Me! information, telephone (785) 273-1765. E-mail inquiries may be sent to:

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Copyright© 1998 by Kindergartners Count, Inc. All rights reserved.
Kindergartners Count, Inc. is a not for profit 501(c)3 organization.