OlyFed Partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington to Introduce Youth to Finance Careers


The next generation has unique talents and strengths that they are eager to let shine. At a young age, it can be overwhelming to know what industry will fit best with their skills and fulfill them. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington partners with local businesses to create mentorship opportunities for youth so they can learn more about different career paths. Olympia Federal Savings (OlyFed) has proudly been a part of their Career Mentoring Exploration program since 2021, and is proud to put on a program that highlights careers in finance. Introducing youth to this rewarding career provides real-life opportunities to gain essential skills and knowledge in areas such as lending and real estate.

casey and deidre sitting at a table looking at something on it
Casey Kilborn, VP retail banking manager (right) and Deidre Michie, HR recruiting coordinator (left) plan for an upcoming session on careers and opportunities in banking. Photo courtesy: Olympia Federal Savings

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington Creates Educational Opportunities for Students in Olympia

In the Career Mentoring Exploration program, youth are matched one-to-one with an adult mentor. Together, they can learn about different careers within the finance industry and discover new topics each month, such as this last month’s topic on residential real estate and how brokers, mortgage lenders and title companies work together. “Students and mentors make a commitment to meet monthly for the entire school year,” explains Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington Program Director Moriah Chandler. “At the end of the school year, the students have the opportunity for a paid internship and scholarships. Our Big Brothers Big Sisters staff follow up with students to help them identify and achieve their next steps within their local community.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington is incredibly grateful for their business partners like OlyFed. This collaboration with local workplaces is what creates space for youth to learn, grow and stay local while still developing careers with living-wage salaries. “OlyFed’s commitment to their local community is evident in their generous gift of their space, time, and expertise to students,” shares Moriah. Mentorship provides the opportunity for new skills and perspectives to be gained through discussion and connection, which is valuable for youth to see how they can build lives for themselves through various career pathways.

OlyFed Proudly Partners with Career Mentoring Exploration to Support Olympia Youth

SVP Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer Ryan Betz has been impressed with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington’s commitment to youth development, and has enjoyed contributing educational opportunities through this partnership. “We have been a longtime supporter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington and invest every year in the organization’s mission through sponsorship of their many fundraising events,” Ryan shares. “We thought the mentoring program was the next best step in being an even stronger community partner.”

On top of hosting the Career Mentoring Exploration program on banking and finance at their downtown Olympia offices, almost a dozen of OlyFed’s employees participate as mentors. The program is created based on youth interests, passions, and hopes for the future, and extends beyond academics into their challenges and struggles so additional resources and support can be provided to help them succeed.

Ryan Betz, SVP chief strategy & marketing officer and Ben Paylor, mortgage loan officer with Bank of the Pacific organize an upcoming session for mentees alongside volunteers. Photo courtesy: Olympia Federal Savings

OlyFed started out the program by helping students understand how a bank operates and works, along with some basics on financial education and budgeting best practices. They provided a behind the scenes tour of the bank vault and back offices while sharing what career options were available in the finance industry. Later in 2024 they plan to cover commercial real estate, land development, business banking, entrepreneurship, and what it takes to start a business, giving students an in-depth overview of key financial and business concepts. OlyFed intends to take the students on a local college tour and celebrate their graduation from the program in June to commemorate all they have learned and accomplished.

“The best part about this program is that students get to explore a number of careers in finance and real estate in a warm and welcoming environment,” Ryan says. “Many times, it takes exploration and experiences to figure out what you like and don’t like. Students get to see and hear first-hand that there is usually not a straight line between school and their chosen career. Even if a student determines that finance, banking, or real estate isn’t a career path they want to heard down in the future, at a minimum this program provides foundational knowledge about best practices when it comes to saving, spending, sharing, and investing your money.”

All the student mentees and mentors took a tour of OlyFed’s downtown branch. Photo courtesy: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington

Become a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington Mentor Alongside OlyFed

For the OlyFed team, it has been incredibly rewarding to know that they can be a positive difference and influence for young people in the community by providing a safe place for them to ask questions. As a part of the community for more than 117 years, OlyFed is deeply devoted to community and they are passionate about supporting the next generation in not only finding their place in this world, but thriving and gaining joy from their work. If you are looking to make a difference for young community members, become a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Washington and provide learning opportunities for youth across Olympia.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email