Lewiston, Maine is the heart of Androscoggin Bank. It also happens to be home for many of Maine’s immigrant, refugee, and asylum seeking families. For many of these families the journeys they have taken to realize a safe home and space in our community is heart wrenching. Beyond that, once here they find themselves adapting to a new language, new cultural challenges, attempting to find secure and stable employment, and navigating a new reality – all while missing their original home. Our new neighbors face hardships that few of us could ever fathom. Most of us will never comprehend or experience that level of hardship and bravery in our entire lives.
And, our newest community members and friends arrive teeming with optimism, energy and aspirations. They are here to build a legacy for their families and their new communities, in a place where the promise exists that we can be anything we set our minds and our hearts to. In the past few years alone, we have listened to hundreds of stories about new Mainers quickly making a difference, from starting new businesses to being elected to public service positions. Time and time again we are amazed at this willingness to take leaps and learn, all in the face of adversity.
Because of this, we felt compelled to find a solution which would highlight and empower even more new Mainers. Our Mission, Vision and Values drive us every day to reimagine what a bank can be and how we can make a difference and our recent work partnership with Lewiston Adult Ed to create Lewiston’s first Today’s Teller Academy exemplifies this effort.
The program’s goal is to prepare students who have a primary language other than English, for well-paying and advancement rich careers in banking in the Lewiston/Auburn region. We have been working in collaboration with LAE since March of 2022, aiding in the development and launch of the program.
Now, we are more than excited to announce our robust financial support for LAE, the Today’s Teller Academy and their students. Our funding will provide critical help in covering the costs of student transportation, instructor fees and educational material from the CFTEA. More importantly, our funding will allow this program to continue to be a bridge for transition for many new Mainers. With this, we hope to create prosperous job opportunities, fulfill dreams and ensure that our newest community members are able to thrive in their new home.
About The Program
The Today’s Teller Academy is designed for students who meet specific language, reading and math competencies, and who have a background in banking, finance, or customer service in their home countries. With a goal of preparing these students to be candidates for employment, the 14-week course includes the Today’s Teller curriculum (an ABA/CFT course) – as well as lessons on customer service, digital literacy and job search strategies.
“Through the use of the curriculum, students learned a great overview of the American banking system that will help them in both their personal and professional lives” said Today’s Teller Instructor, Fatma Saad. “The collaboration with AB was invaluable because it gave the students real world experience and [they] could ask bank personnel specific questions about banking procedures and working in a bank”.
Our most recent graduating class featured six students from South Africa, Angola and Kenya. In addition to English, the students spoke a variety of languages, including: Xhosa, Lingala, Somali, Swahili and Portuguese and had a variety of professional experience.
While they started all the way back in February, the Bank’s involvement with this cohort started in mid-March. Last month, our lessons, led by Androscoggin Bank employees, were centered on job search strategies, aspects of interviewing, and the process of creating a resume. Arguably the most exciting day was when each student individually visited our Sabattus Street location to shadow the branch team and see what it was like “behind the line”. On the final day of the program, students put their newly found knowledge to the test as we conducted mock interviews along with three other local financial institutions.
After passing their final exam, graduating students were all given Today’s Teller and Work Ready certificates from LAE. Our proud graduates attended a ceremony on the evening of June 6th and can be seen pictured below.
Moreover, we are delighted to announce that we anticipate two graduates joining us as employees at Androscoggin Bank. Bongi Sanduku and Lukoki Kalukembi will be joining us both on June 20th as Client Service Representatives. It is an exceptional feeling for our entire team to have delivered on our goal of providing tangible career opportunities to our students.
In recognition of our efforts, LAE awarded the Bank with their Community Partner Award at the graduation ceremony. We are so proud of the quick progress this program has made and cannot wait to see how it expands, both with LAE and with other financial institutions. Ultimately, this partnership has the potential to continue recognizing, supporting and developing banking talent throughout the LA community, with unprecedented access and opportunities. It is abundantly clear that our newest Mainers have tremendous skillsets and bring so much value, which can be applied at a variety of businesses, including ours.