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Doing More in Amite

Promoting education in communities we call home.

The places we called home in our youth hold a special place in our heart. Imagine returning to yours and finding it needed your help. In 2010, LaSundra Pitts found herself in that position when she accepted a promotion to Branch Manager at the Regions branch in Amite, La., where she had spent her formative years. She immediately saw a chance to help the physically and financially struggling St. Helena Parish School District.

LaSundra started teaching financial literacy classes to students at St. Helena Central High School, participated in career days and encouraged students to enter Regions’ Riding Forward Scholarship Essay Contest. The relationship grew, and things began to change for the better when Dr. Kelli Joseph became the Superintendent in July 2011. “We had a $1.5 million deficit and were a failing district academically. However, we put the right people in place to make the tough decisions and became the most improved district in 2012. We also turned our deficit around and currently run at a surplus,” recounts Dr. Joseph.

During this time, LaSundra kept communicating with the school board, and with the help of her business group partners at Regions, convinced the board to change its banking relationship to Regions. Additionally, in May 2013, Regions approved the $3.54 million loan needed to repair and improve the physical structures in the district. “Where other banks said no, Regions saw our progress and gave us the opportunity,” Dr. Joseph says. “Because of that, we were able to jump-start all of the things we’re doing. We’re starting construction on a new 12-classroom facility at the high school and renovating the old technical building for additional space. I’m very proud of the progress we’ve made.”

Regions is also proud to play a role in teaching financial literacy classes at the new Parent Academy. The vision is to develop a productive educational program that increases family involvement in the schools.

 “As a former student of St. Helena Central High School, I am happy to have played a small part in revitalizing the school,” LaSundra says. “This has truly been, and continues to be, an experience where shared values work to make life better for our customers, our community and our bank.”

Watch the Stepping Up to the Plate to Help the Next Generation video

St. Helena students with Dr. Kelli Joseph, center left, and LaSundra Pitts, center right.