Bank of the Valley recently donated more than $25,000 to several area school districts as part of the company’s School Pride Card Program.

The program allows customers at Bank of the Valley who are affiliated with a local school to obtain a Visa Check Card with that school’s logo. When one uses the card, a donation is made to their school for usage however they please.

“It varies across the board,” said Dee Hanson, marketing director for Bank of the Valley in Columbus. “We have no stipulations or requirements on where that money goes. When we hand the check over to (the) schools, it is theirs to use.”

Combined donations for each school totaled a little more than $25,000, and were presented to Columbus Public Schools (CPS), Scotus Central Catholic School, Lakeview Community Schools, Aquinas Catholic Schools in David City, David City Public Schools, East Butler Public Schools and Humphrey Public Schools over the course of April and May. Humphrey Public Schools also received a donation of a little more than $1,500 in January.

Hanson said she sees this program as a way to give back to community schools while bolstering pride for those schools within their communities.

“We thought it would be a really unique and cool opportunity to give back in a way to those schools that support those students that are in the communities that we serve,” Hanson said. “It’s not just your standard sponsorship donation. This is actually tied to people being proud of the school that they either go to or came from, and showing that by getting the card and turning that into a way to make money for that school.”

CPS and Scotus officials said different things about how they are using the money received from the program. CPS keeps the money in an account for future use. Dave Melick, executive director of business operations for CPS, said that if the money is used it will likely go toward benefiting employees that are new to the district.

“I thought that some expenditure related to our new staff would make sense,” Melick said. “But we haven’t developed anything yet.”

Currently, Melick said that there is nothing in the pipeline that would require the usage of the funds from the program.

Scotus, on the other hand, currently is using the funds for teacher development and supplies. Scotus President Jeff Ohnoutka talked about the importance of helping give teachers and faculty a leg up on other schools in the area.

“We really try to earmark it for professional development (and) supplies for teachers,” Ohnoutka said. “We use it for things that are aren’t necessarily tied into the instructional budget for our teachers. This is stuff that we can use to go above and beyond what’s needed.”

According to Hanson, Bank of the Valley has donated more than $38,000 since the program began in fall 2015 and has given out more than 1,100 cards. Hanson has also seen other financial institutions, such as Pinnacle Bank, attempt to jump on board by starting a pride card program of its own.

Hanson said she would like to see the program become a model for other community banks to do something similar. In many ways, this particular program is similar to First National Bank’s sponsorship program with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“I like the idea of seeing more local and community banks utilizing it to benefit their local communities and having that more personal connection and personal tie-in,” Hanson said.

Zach Roth is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at zach.roth@lee.net