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Making a Difference: Giving back is big business for this bank

Stephenson National Bank & Trust celebrating 150 years in business

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March 20, 2024

MARINETTE — Stephenson National Bank & Trust (SNBT) has been a community bank since 1874 and will be celebrating its 150th anniversary later this year in October.

On top of being a historical staple in the community, SNBT has continued its traditions of supporting its community for the last century and a half.

The community bank has started programs such as Jeans for Greens and the Hometown Giving Back Program to give back to the people around them.

The impact of SNBT’s work can be seen throughout Northeast Wisconsin across all its branch locations, from Green Bay to Pembine, and into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Community leadership
Marketing Director Laura Rowe says SNBT is constantly out doing and participating in events in the community, and she hears from people all the time — “we see you everywhere.”

SNBT’s culture of giving dates back to the year 2000 when President Mary Staudenmaier challenged her employees to donate at least 2,000 hours of community service back to the community.

Rowe said the employees stepped up to the challenge with no questions asked.

“The philosophy of giving without receiving is ingrained in our company culture,” she said. “Since then, our employees have been pledging the number of hours they would give and tracking those hours — it’s gone up.”

Furthermore, Rowe said, the pledge to donate is not during work hours.

“It’s above and beyond — it’s on the weekends and before and after the workday,” she said. “I find this inspirational, and I’m happy it’s a huge part of our culture. The cultural mindset is to do something because it’s the right thing to do.”

On that, Rowe said, “one of our values is community leadership.”

“It’s all about making a better place in our community — through employee volunteerism and monetary donation,” she said.

Rowe said she knows there is a symbiotic relationship between the bank and the community because of this.

“Anytime you’re doing donation programs, you want to raise awareness for nonprofits,” she said. “We’re not just doing it to give and look good. If we give, then someone else realizes there’s a need, and then hopefully more people will join in giving time or money.”

Jeans for Greens
Wearing jeans has paid off for SNBT to the tune of $27,945 over the last three years.

The program was originally started during 2020, at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Banks were considered essential workers, so services to customers never shut down.

Employees at SNBT, Rowe said, were allowed to wear jeans on Fridays and were looking for a way to help out.

“At first, it was only a monthly program, however, because it resonated well with the employees, they made it a weekly voluntary program,” she said. “So far, on average, they donate around $725 a month to the respective monthly organization.”

Employees pay $5 on Fridays, and in exchange, can wear jeans to work.

It might not seem like much, Rowe said, all the numbers are added up.

Last year, for example, SNBT employees raised $8,605 for 12 different organizations, all based in Northeast Wisconsin.

“Given the program has been going now three years strong and they have their 2024 list set up, you’d think the novelty of wearing jeans would wear off,” Rowe said. “But people are still into it.”

Part of the reason employees continue to give, she said, is they may find an organization on the list that hits home for them, and want to support it.

Along with the jeans, they have buttons for the employees to wear that say “I’m dressed down for a cause.”

Some of the notable organizations SNBT donated to last year include Altrusa House (Green Bay), The Wall That Heals (Crivitz), Oconto County Veterans Memorial (Oconto) and Camp Daniel (Crivitz).

Hometown Giving Back program
Another program developed during COVID was the Hometown Giving Back program.

This was not employee-directed but rather bank-directed, Rowe said.

“When it was developed, the nonprofits were struggling,” she said. “At the same time SNBT was giving back to the food pantries, they did a milk program and other grant programs related to the food pantries. At the same time, they found there was a need for youth programs because the kids were being left behind.”

Rowe said the Hometown Giving Back checking account was also set up.

“The money in that checking account, we will donate a certain percentage to local youth organizations,” she said. “What this means for the banking customer — both business and personal — is based on deposits customers made in their accounts, SNBT on a corporate level donates money to area youth programs.”

Rowe said the program has been “really well received.”

A check for $2,159 was given to the Greater M&M YMCA as part of Stephenson National Bank & Trust’s Hometown Giving Back program. Photo Courtesy of Stephenson National Bank & Trust

“We had to put a $10,000 cap on it because, holy cow, it could have gotten really out of control,” she said. “We give that to a lot of the local youth organizations throughout the region, trying to pick one that serves each market area we’re in.”

Rowe said she thinks that the small-town mentality helps drive the push to give, both monetarily and physically.

“It’s the right thing to do,” she said. “You see your neighbors and you know what the nonprofits do to help in the community. I would say that’s a big part of it.”

Employee engagement
The culture at SNBT isn’t just about community engagement, it’s about employee engagement as well, Rowe said.

“I get excited because the employees are always looking for ways to help,” she said. “Some of the donation events we’ve garnered through employee engagement include internal employee auctions and chili cook-offs. We’ve done a lot of different things, and it’s all employee-directed. At the same time, the bank on a corporate level budgets to give as well. It’s a cultural thing — giving a sense of pride for everyone involved.”

Rowe said she believes this pride extends into those who bank with SNBT as well.

“I know being an independent community bank, it is huge to be able to support Marinette — where the headquarters are — but also regions from Green Bay to Pembine,” she said. “I feel like culturally, the bank giving and encouraging employees to give is what sets our bank apart from other employers. Not even just other banks.”

Rowe said she’s also noticed in her 20 years at SNBT that volunteerism significantly increases the longevity of employment.

“We have employees who come for the job, or maybe because they hear about the good things we’re doing, but then they stay longer because the culture here is so collaborative,” she said. “Namely, having the giving, engagement and collaboration all around as a part of the culture.”

Rowe said all of those things are the reason she’s stayed at SNBT for so long.

“I’m from Menominee, went to school in downstate Michigan and never thought I would have gotten a career in my hometown,” she said.

Rowe said she applauds the work SNBT has done to hire the right people who want to continue growing the culture.

“We hire people who have the right mindset to be a part of our team,” he said. “We apply this to business dealings, too. It’s about finding the right fit and ensuring people understand what to expect from us.”

Impact of donations
Rowe said when they consider staff volunteerism and the hours they give, SNBT employees are close to three or four full-time employees in the nonprofit world.

“I know nonprofits are struggling to find volunteers,” she said. “The people who do volunteer are probably getting burned out because they’re dedicating their entire life to this. So, the impact we’re making by volunteering is massive. We also send out surveys to nonprofits. With the answer we receive, we put together a directory for the employees to use as a reference.”

Longstanding community bank
Rowe said SNBT since is an independent community bank, it’s integral to give back to the community.

“When one thinks about it economically, and how the circle works, people make a deposit into their accounts and SNBT lends that money out to local community members, businesses and nonprofits,” she said. “And many times, it comes full circle as a result.”

The trickle-down effect continues from there, Rowe said.

“Those businesses pay their employees, and their employees shop local and may bring their money back here.” she said. “Then, maybe they’re serving or helping nonprofits at the same time. We’re all a tight-knit community. It all helps when we’re working together, which is part of why our philosophy is so important.”

Learn more about the impact of SNBT’s donations by visiting

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