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Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty Introduces U.S. Bancorp, Minneapolis Community and Technical College Financial Careers Institute

MINNEAPOLIS, May 1, 2003 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, with leaders of the Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) and U.S. Bancorp, announced an initiative today that will create a banking and finance degree program for recent immigrants and economically challenged people in the Twin Cities metro area.

The Financial Careers Institute received $600,000 in grant funds from the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP), a program within the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development (DTED). U.S. Bancorp matched the grant with $600,000 in on-site training and educational resources. During the next two years, the college will work closely with a multi-ethnic taskforce and selected U.S. Bancorp leaders to develop a series of training programs and a new college degree.

"Creating economic opportunities means more than jobs alone, it means workers having the skills they need to turn opportunities into economic security," said Governor Pawlenty. "This private-public partnership will help many new immigrants and other Minnesotans get the education they need to find good jobs in the banking and finance industry."

The program has three key objectives. The first objective is to develop a training program for multilingual banking and finance employees to serve as liaisons within their own communities, working with individual immigrants and other targeted audiences to provide an understanding of banking and personal investment strategies and related services. The second objective is to create a new, two-year associate degree program at MCTC that reflects the skills needed to be successful in multi-ethnic banking and finance settings. Finally, the program will create a clear educational ladder that allows individuals to move from short-term training for entry level positions into the new degree program offered by the college, which may then transfer into a bachelor's or master's degree program at Metropolitan State University.

Recognizing some of the challenge students who pursue this degree may face, such as finding good child care, efficient transportation, financial support and encouragement, the Project for Pride in Living and Goodwill/Easter Seals will work closely with learners to provide a community support system and long-term job retention services.

The college project executive liaison, Dr. Jo Peterson, dean of continuing education and training at MCTC, believes the project will influence more than 350 individuals in two years. "By 2005, we plan to have two major initiatives completed. First, we will develop a series of training courses for incumbent workers within U.S. Bancorp (including U.S. Bank) and Piper Jaffray. After the initial training has been completed, our two-year college intends to offer a new degree program.

"This new degree will be tailored toward individual immigrants and persons of color who want to create a long-term career in banking and finance. We are especially looking for individuals who live and work in the urban core," said Peterson.

The college and the financial institution began working together shortly after U.S. Bank announced a national campaign to provide a wider range of services to immigrant communities. The company-wide Hispanic Initiative and its regional focus on other emerging markets fueled the company's desire to work with a local college to provide training to its workforce.

Kurt Treu, senior vice president for retail banking at U.S. Bank in the Twin Cities metropolitan area, said, "Our goal is to provide recent immigrants and economically challenged residents with a wide range of services, and that means getting to know their families, their short- and long-term goals, and their language." Treu suggests that this program will also encourage employees to consider banking and finance careers as long-term options. "We want multi-lingual workers throughout our system, which will help create diversity from the bank teller to the senior leadership level. That's what makes U.S. Bancorp really work -- diversity of people, energy, and thinking."

The initial phases of the grant project include getting various front line workers' input on course topics and areas of interest. "Our initial conversations suggest that all workers, especially immigrants, want to give back to their communities. Bank tellers want to have conversations with their neighbors about mortgage solutions, basic banking and long-term savings planning," said Peterson, who added that she finds the notion of the worker as community liaison to be a fascinating model.

About MCTC

Minneapolis Community and Technical College provides a comprehensive offering of transfer and occupational programs as well as continuing education opportunities. The college is committed to meeting the educational needs of students by serving a diverse, multicultural community and preparing students to live and work in a democratic society within a changing global community. The college has a total enrollment of 10,500.

About MJSP

Minnesota Job Skills Partnership offers technical, financial and job training assistance to thousands of businesses, communities, educational institutions and workers. The Job Skills Partnership Board brings businesses with specific education needs together with educational institutions to design training programs to meet those needs.

About U.S. Bancorp

U.S. Bancorp, with assets in excess of $182 billion, is the 8th largest financial services holding company in the United States. The company operates 2,200 banking offices and 4,582 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.

SOURCE: U.S. Bancorp

CONTACT:          U.S. Bancorp
                  Teri Charest, 612/303-0732
                  Jill Gebhardt, 612/659-6221
                  Carol Walsh, 651/296-4236

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SOURCE: U.S. Bancorp

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