PNC grant to ZipAssist will help UA students build financial skills



Funds will help underserved students achieve success in college

The PNC Foundation has awarded $75,000 each to Kent State University and The University of Akron to help ensure success among students who commonly face barriers in college. Students will be provided resources such as mentoring, academic assistance and financial literacy training, which will help them complete college and establish a strong foundation on which to build their careers.

The grants are consistent with PNC’s Main Street banking model, which is built around understanding and supporting the unique needs of its local communities.  

“First-generation, people of color and low-to-moderate income students often have a harder time obtaining a college degree because they lack the skills, knowledge and resources to assist them in their higher education journey,” said Joe Luckring, PNC regional president of Akron. “These funds will help provide the support students need to stay in school and successfully pursue their dreams.”

Kent State will use the funds to create supportive, equitable programming for students coming from two college access programs: Lebron James Family Foundation’s I PROMISE Program and the District of Columbia College Access Program. Under the KSU CommUNITY Lab, which provides a network of care and resources designed to remove financial and academic barriers, the programming will improve success rates for racially diverse, first-generation and low-to-moderate income students.

“Underserved students bring to college many strengths that will support their success,” said Eboni Pringle, Ph.D., dean of University College at Kent State. “We are honored to welcome them to the Kent State community and are excited to have PNC’s partnership to help them achieve their greatest aspirations.”

The University of Akron will continue Jumpstart Powered by PNC, a financial literacy program for first-generation, low-income, and Black and minority students that launched as a pilot program in fall 2020. Participating students will meet with PNC representatives to discuss savings, budgeting, debt, college student essentials and the impact of philanthropy. In addition, the students will be mentored through the University’s advocacy and support office, ZipAssist. Students will take part in group activities (such as service-learning programs) and will complete online financial literacy modules to advance their skills and knowledge. These skills will put them on a more even playing field with their peers, who might have had a chance to learn financial skills growing up.

“For many students, college is the first time they are tasked with managing their own finances, which can cause problems if they don’t have the proper guidance,” said Alison Doehring, director of ZipAssist at The University of Akron. “Skills such as budgeting and saving will last a lifetime, which helps them build a solid financial foundation that benefits their families and the community overall.”

The three-year grants are part of PNC’s $88 billion Community Benefits Plan announced in April, inclusive of a previously announced commitment of more than $1 billion to support the economic empowerment of Black Americans and low- and moderate- income communities. The Community Benefits Plan will provide at least $88 billion in loans, investments and other financial support to benefit low- and moderate-income individuals and communities, people and communities of color, and other underserved individuals and communities over a four-year period.

PNC has a long history of supporting economic empowerment efforts. The company has earned an "Outstanding" rating under the Community Reinvestment Act since those examinations began more than 40 years ago, and has been nationally recognized for the impact of PNC Grow Up Great®, a bilingual multi-year initiative launched in 2004 that helps prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life, with a particular emphasis on helping children, families and others in diverse and low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.

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The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (, actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a bilingual $500 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.

Media contact: Cristine Boyd, 330-972-6476 or