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U.S. Bancorp Makes $500,000 Commitment to SMART -- Start Making a Reader Today

PORTLAND, Ore., Mar 3, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- U.S. Bancorp (NYSE:USB), in the second year of a $500,000 U.S. Bancorp Foundation commitment to SMART(R) (Start Making A Reader Today), is helping kick the literacy program into high gear with events throughout Oregon aimed at attracting donors and volunteers.

The fundraisers began in Medford, Ore. on February 13 and end in Klamath Falls, Ore. on April 29. In between, U.S. Bank volunteers and executives are joining SMART leaders for events in Portland, Eugene, McMinnville, Newberg, Astoria, Bend, Coos Bay, Roseburg, Tillamook, Corvallis and Pendleton, in that order.

SMART is a nonprofit, volunteer-based program that works in partnership with Oregon public schools. Since 1992, SMART has served more than 55,000 children, donated more than 1 million books and coordinated more than 1.5 million volunteer hours. This year, more than 9,000 adult volunteers are reading with nearly 12,000 children across the state.

"With the fiscal crisis facing the state and public schools it was obvious that U.S. Bancorp could make a tremendous impact by making literacy our top funding priority and nurturing good reading habits among Oregon's future leaders," said Linda Wright, community relations manager for U.S. Bank in Oregon.

Independent research made possible by U.S. Bancorp has shown that students who participate in SMART develop key reading skills significantly faster than their peers and maintain these gains after leaving the program. Fifth graders who participated in SMART are 60 percent more likely to reach the state reading benchmark than similar students who did not have SMART.

"Good readers make good students. Good students graduate. Graduates become good employees. Employees contribute to the economy. Supporting SMART goes a long way in ensuring the economic vitality of our communities, our state and the Northwest region," said Amy Brown, development director for the Oregon Children's Foundation, which oversees SMART.

Tax season is a good time to think about SMART. Line 61 of Individual Income Tax Form 40 (line 32 of Form 40S) offers taxpayers an option to contribute to SMART by entering CODE 5 and noting the portion of the refund that should be donated to SMART.

U.S. Bancorp, with assets in excess of $180 billion, is the 8th largest financial services holding company in the United States. The company operates 2,142 banking offices and 4,604 ATMs, and provides a comprehensive line of banking, brokerage, insurance, investment, mortgage, trust and payment services products to consumers, businesses and institutions. U.S. Bancorp is home of the Five Star Service Guarantee which assures customers of certain key banking benefits and services or customers will be paid for their inconvenience. U.S. Bancorp is the parent company of U.S. Bank. Visit U.S. Bancorp on the web at usbank.com.

CONTACT:          U.S. Bancorp
                  Steve Dale, 612/303-0784
                  Linda Wright, 503/275-5776

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SOURCE: U.S. Bancorp

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