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Thousands of Teachers Amass On Broadway for a Special Performance

NEW YORK, Nov. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Washington Mutual brought more than 28,000 New York and New Jersey area teachers and their guests to Broadway to fill theater seats from the Gershwin to the Majestic.

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The teachers' visit to Broadway is the culmination of Washington Mutual's "Spotlight on Teachers" program, which kicked off on August 20th. In an unprecedented move, the company bought out every available seat for the matinee performances on November 16th -- the largest single buy-out in Broadway history! A pair of tickets was then awarded to 14,000 local New York and New Jersey teachers who were nominated by past and present students, family members or colleagues, as well as teachers who participated in Washington Mutual educational programs, this summer and fall. Each teacher was invited to bring a guest, bringing the total buyout to more than 28,000 seats to hit Broadway shows including "The Producers" and "Hairspray" this Saturday.

Prior to the performances, the teachers and their guests attended a special pep rally on 44th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, which was closed to vehicle traffic for this special occasion. The rally featured guest speakers including representatives from the Mayor's office, the School Chancellor's office and the United Federation of Teachers, as well as the New Jersey Teacher-of-the-Year, a special performance by The Broadway Kids and a guest appearance by Broadway legend Joel Grey who helped count down the final minutes before the grand exit to Times Square.

"The teachers who joined us on Broadway today have made a difference in the classroom and in the lives of the people who nominated them," said John Benevento, Senior Vice President for Washington Mutual's New York retail bank. "The 'Spotlight on Teachers' program is our way of thanking teachers in for their hard work and dedication."

Benevento said that Washington Mutual decided to undertake this program because "studies show how critical teachers are to students' success, and we believe investing in teachers will pay great dividends for students."

WaMu in the Classroom

Washington Mutual companies have been involved in education programs since 1923, beginning with a small student program. Today, supporting K-12 public education and teachers is a corporate priority and provides millions of dollars in grants annually for professional development opportunities for teachers and teacher recruitment programs, leadership training for principals, organizational development for schools, and programs that provide information about school performance to parents. Additionally, in partnership with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Washington Mutual established the largest privately funded national scholarship program for teachers pursuing National Board Certification -- the most prestigious accomplishment in the teaching profession.

WaMu's Entry in New York

WaMu launched its retail banking entry into New York City, Westchester, Long Island and New Jersey markets July 22nd with a market entry blitz that aims to put an end to banking as usual in the Metro Area.

As part of its expansion plans, WaMu earlier announced it will add 40 new stores in New York and New Jersey within the next year. "We intend to significantly grow our market presence in Metro Area in the years to come," said Randy Grimm, Senior Vice President for Washington Mutual's New Jersey's retail bank. "With our Occasio store format, we have the ability to expand the number of stores in the area over a relatively short period of time." The company's nationally renowned "Occasio" stores feature an open, welcoming environment, khaki-clad staff members and even a concierge. The company has already opened ten of the new stores in Manhattan.

WaMu in the NY/NJ Community

In addition to "Spotlight on Teachers," Washington Mutual has sponsored two additional events in the Metro Area, Home of the Free(TM) -- a student photojournalism project and "Walk on Home(TM)," a series a walk-a-thons for affordable housing, to help the community understand who Washington Mutual is and what it's about. Together, this series of events helps illustrate Washington Mutual's long history of investing in the communities it serves, with a focus on education, affordable housing and volunteerism.

Walk On Home(TM)

Affordable housing is an issue Washington Mutual strongly supports. On Sept. 29, 2002, thousands of local residents raised money for affordable housing by participating in the one of four Walk-A-Thons sponsored by the company. This was the first cross-regional event of its kind in the area, unifying community organizations from Westchester, Long Island, New York City, and New Jersey in a regional effort to increase awareness of affordable housing. Participating groups receive 100% of the funds raised and their use of the funds will be unrestricted. Washington Mutual is bearing all costs related to the walk-a-thon.

Home of the Free(TM)

Washington Mutual has partnered with the New-York Historical Society and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer David Hume Kennerly to bring a unique photojournalism project to area 7th and 8th graders. Each school's photos are currently on display at a local Washington Mutual financial center. In addition, the top 60 photos are on exhibit, along with a collection of Kennerly's works, at the Historical Society from October 29, 2002, through January 19, 2003.

About Washington Mutual, Inc.

With a history dating back to 1889, Washington Mutual, Inc. (NYSE: WM) is a national financial services company that provides a diversified line of products and services to consumers and small- to mid-sized businesses. At Sept. 30, 2002, Washington Mutual and its subsidiaries had assets of $261.10 billion. Washington Mutual currently operates more than 2,500 consumer banking, mortgage lending, commercial banking, consumer finance and financial services offices throughout the nation. Washington Mutual's press releases are available at http://www.wamu.com .

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SOURCE Washington Mutual, Inc.

-0- 11/16/2002

/CONTACT: Derek Aney of Washington Mutual, +1-646-521-3327, or derek.aney@wamu.net; or Patricia Hallock of MS&L, +1-212-213-7233, or +1-917-754-7384, or patricia.hallock@mslpr.com, for Washington Mutual/

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