The Business of Learning

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The Business of Learning

Discover how a Regions community partner is empowering youth to become academic, civic and entrepreneurial leaders.

By Kim Borges

NORTHAMPTON, MA / ACCESSWIRE / June 28, 2024 / First celebrated in Texas in 1865, Juneteenth was declared a national holiday June 17, 2021. Here, we spotlight a longtime Regions Bank customer and a more recent bank community partner empowering youth and inviting their community to learn more about both the holiday and themselves.

Rhonda Dolberry is full of wisdom.

“What you have inside shines outside, too.”

She’s known for sharing insights with participants of The Scholars, a nonprofit dedicated to exposing youth to events, experiences and empowerment.

“Keep your eyes and ears open because you never know when opportunities are going to manifest themselves.”

And to the students ages nine to 18 across Texarkana’s two-state, four-school district the organization serves, her words are like beacons of light.

“You have to be ready. You have to prepare yourself. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.”

We’re encouraging our students to go out there and be what you want to be. We want them to be successful students, citizens, leaders.

Rhonda Dolberry, Founder of The Scholars

For Dolberry and co-founder Chiquita Burks, it all began with 10 girls and a fashion show back in 2014.

“Chiquita owned a hair salon and I’m a hoarder of anything shiny,” Dolberry explained of the event’s inspiration.

After the curtain dropped, Dolberry and Burks saw bigger potential.

“What we were trying to do was more than that,” said Dolberry. “So, we asked the girls, ‘What else can we do?’ and we listened to them. We heard them. It all just morphed from there.”

Including The Scholars name, a student’s suggestion.

In the decade since, what was a one-time group of 10 girls now includes boys and averages 30 members. One of its core themes? Inclusion and belonging.

“We’re open to everybody, anybody can join,” said Dolberry. “We know how important it is to know who you are, no matter who you are.”

A second theme? Hard work.

“We are not a meet-and-greet organization, we are a working organization,” said Dolberry.

She means it.

Check in with The Scholars during any given week and you’ll find them learning about business etiquette, participating in a community project or shadowing professionals in fields like dentistry and nursing.

“A lot of kids don’t know what they want to do after graduation,” said Dolberry. “We expose our students to people and places they’ve never been before. Just being in the room, just being someplace can open so many doors. We’re encouraging our students to go out there and be what you want to be. We want them to be successful students, citizens, leaders.”

And for those interested in being entrepreneurs, The Scholars even provides hands-on learning.

Each June, students sell products they’ve created during the organization’s “Keeping History Alive” fundraiser featuring food trucks, performance art, storytelling and even a parade organized by one of the Scholars. Regions Bank in Texarkana is an event sponsor.

“This is an opportunity to showcase our students,” said Dolberry. “Our goal is to get people on both sides of the Texarkana line to come, to bring everybody together.”

Regions’ Texarkana Main branch manager Ricky Robinette and relationship banker team lead Shanna Johnson Pollins teach monthly financial education classes to the budding small-business owners leading up to the event.

Pollins learned about The Scholars during a Greenprint finanical needs conversation with Dolberry, a 50-year bank customer, and Burks. Their work immediately inspired her.

“We believe it’s important for our customers to not only see us as their bank but as servant-leaders of Texarkana,” Pollins said. “I was amazed by the influence Ms. Dolberry and Ms. Burks have had and the impact they’ve created in our community the past 10 years. They’re teaching youth entrepreneurial skills and taking them places I’ve never been.”

We believe it’s important for our customers to not only see us as their bank but as servant-leaders of Texarkana.

Shanna Johnson Pollins, Regions Texarkana relationship banker team lead

Beyond gaining “Main Street” experience as young entrepreneurs, Dolberry and Burks are also introducing The Scholars to lessons taught on Constitution Avenue and U.S. Route 80, among other historical destinations.

“We took kids who had never been on a plane to Washington, D.C., and Selma, Alabama,” said Dolberry. “They saw the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the White House and Arlington Cemetery. They walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. We didn’t initially know how we were going to do it, but we found a way and we did it.”

Persistence – it’s another lesson Dolberry and Burks are modeling for The Scholars. It comes in handy given being an entrepreneur can be challenging.

“Whatever they sell, they keep,” said Dolberry of the money youth earn from wares like beaded bracelets, sunglass cases, baked goods and specialty teas at Keeping History Alive. “After the event, we do a workshop where each student reports to the group how much they spent, how much they earned and what they learned. It’s a chance for them to think about and share what worked and what they would do differently.”

Dolberry is especially grateful to Robinette and Pollins for supporting participants throughout that journey.

When Regions shows up and recognizes us and our students, that speaks volumes. They’re so hospitable. It’s about more than the sponsorship money, it’s your presence.

Rhonda Dolberry, Founder of The Scholars

“When Regions shows up and recognizes us and our students, that speaks volumes,” said Dolberry. “They’re so hospitable. It’s about more than the sponsorship money, it’s your presence.”

And the students aren’t the only ones learning from the experience. Working with The Scholars has also provided lasting takeaways for Pollins.

“I’m from a one-stop sign town and didn’t have access to opportunities like this until I was in college,” she said. “The knowledge I’ve gained from banking is something I’m proud to share with youth to help them reach higher and achieve financial stability. There’s satisfaction knowing I’m helping bring up the next generation of leaders. My involvement with The Scholars has taught me to be the change you want to see in the world.”

Hear More from The Scholars about What the Organization Means to Them:

“What The Scholars has taught me about myself is that I am not as shy as I make out to be. Also, I speak quite well in front of people.” – Charis”

What I love about The Scholars is we travel and expose our group to wonderful things and we do community service around Texarkana, Arkansas and Texas, I was also awarded Scholar of The Year 2022-2023. This organization has made me the leader I am today!” – Matthew”

Being a part of The Scholars has made me the entrepreneur that I am today. I have my own business, Treatz By Uniq, which includes lemonades, brownies, cakes, and more. I am sure you will see me around.” – Harmonie

View additional multimedia and more ESG storytelling from Regions Bank on 3blmedia.com.

Contact Info:
Spokesperson: Regions Bank
Website: https://www.3blmedia.com/profiles/regions-bank
Email: info@3blmedia.com

SOURCE: Regions Bank

View the original press release on accesswire.com

View the original press release on accesswire.com