Minitropolis IBC’s Signature Educational Program Grew Exponentially

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The program is in 6 schools in McAllen, 4 in PSJA, out of a total of 18 in the nation

L-R: Adrian Villarreal, IBC Bank-McAllen CEO and President; Dora Brown, IBC Bank-McAllen Senior Vice President, Karla Madrigal, accountant; and Fernando de la Cerda, IBC Bank Senior Vice President.
L-R: Adrian Villarreal, IBC Bank-McAllen CEO and President; Dora Brown, IBC Bank-McAllen Senior Vice President; Karla Madrigal, accountant; and Fernando de la Cerda, IBC Bank Senior Vice President.

By Roberto Hugo Gonzalez 

On February 21, 2019, IBC Bank hosted the Minitropolis® Program Partnership Luncheon. This took place at The Old Church Winery on North Main street in McAllen.The event brought together 12 elementary schools, who have a working Minitropolis® program in their schools. 

The Minitropolis® program offers students an opportunity to see how a community operates by “employing” them in a variety of real-world positions. As part of its commitment to “Do More,” IBC Bank always highlights the Minitropolis® program and shares future plans for this project.

This year, each elementary school partnered with a bank officer, a branch manager, and a sales manager. The luncheon was a great opportunity for guests to network and share their stories. It also commemorated Karla Madrigal, former Sam Houston student, who was the IBC Bank president in 4th grade and Houstonville’smayor in 5th grade more than 10 years ago.

Yancely Campos
Yancely Campos

Also, this year’s 4th-grade IBC Bank Minitropolis® president, Yancely Campos, spoke about the importance of the Minitropolis® program in her school and what it has meant to be a part of this initiative in her community.

According to Dora Brown, IBC Bank-McAllen Senior Vice President, the Minitropolis®program started over 22 years ago. “It’s getting stronger because of the commitments of each of you as principals and superintendents, and everyone who is here to make it keep on going.” Besides, she said, “The Board of Trustees, we can’t do it without you. But honestly, the Board of Trustees and the superintendent are the ones who really have to be strong about it.”

Deborah Thomas
Deborah Thomas

Deborah Thomas, principal at Sam Houston Elementary was present, and she said that the school has an economically disadvantaged group of students. But demographics aside, they are one of the highest performing campuses at McAllen ISD. “This makes me proud because we are also the flagship campus of IBC’s Minitropolis program.” She corroborated that Houstonville has been in existence for over 22 years, and this year the campus has been nominated for the National Blue-Ribbon award. 

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If you are not familiar with theMinitropolis program, well, this is where the students run their own businesses. They become entrepreneurs, they become leaders, collaborators, communicators, and they become future citizens that will represent us one day in our future.

Minitropolis currently includes businesses like IBC Bank, Costco, Walmart, Home Depot, Office Depot, Salvation Army, and a bookstore. Thomas said that those are just a few. “We have over 20 businesses run by our students each and every day. Our Pre-Kand our Kindergarten students run the treasury department.” She said, “So when you see these students understanding things like the treasury department, the IRS, you understand that they are getting a real-life application. And this is phenomenal for our kids and our youth.”

Thomas thanked IBC Bank for their vision and their long-term commitment with schools and children. “Their partnership with the school system, with Joe Gonzalez the superintendent, and the fabulous board this program has multiplied.” She continued, “From one year to the next we went from one Minitropolis campus to six campuses, and this is an awesome, awesome feature.”

Thomas said that the students of Houstonville are the most confident students that you will ever meet, not only confident but well-rounded. She said, “I invite you to come to Sam Houston any time, our doors are always open, but most of all I’d like to thank Mr. Adrian Villarreal, and of course Mrs. Dora Brown. Thank you for helping our students to succeed.”

IBC Bank-McAllen CEO and President Adrian Villarreal said that he had been talking to superintendent Dr. Jose Gonzalez and also listening to a few presentations concerning a customer service initiative by the school district.  He said, “I sat back, and I was thinking about that, and I thought, “How exciting is that?” 

He pointed out that the district had reached out to corporate partners like Chick-Fil-A, who IBC always uses as a model, and other companies to develop this customer service thing that we talk a lot about.” Villarreal said, “I applaud the school board members that are here, and the superintendent, for taking something like that on, because together we will continue to make a difference.”

The gathering was great, but to meet and hear Karla Madrigal was a real treat. She is a product of Houstonville Minitropolis. Dora loved to tell her story and said, “When Karla was a student in Sam Houston in the 4th grade she was the IBC Bank president. And in the 5th grade, she was the mayor.” She continued, “Every time they had aMinitropolis event, she would wear a pinstripe suit, and I’d asked her, “Why are you wearing a suit?” And she says, “Because I’m going to be just like you.” And I said, “No, baby, you don’t want to be like me. You want to be much better than me.”

So, then Karla went to the podium, wearing a cream-colored dress, and tan heel shoes; in simple words looking very professional. “I am a Sam Houston and Minitropolis alumni. From Sam Houston, I went on to UTRGVwhere I got my bachelor’s and my master’s in accounting with honors. I now work at a local CPA firm, where I have been working for two years,” she said.

Karla pointed out that she loved the leadership roles at Sam Houston and the Minitropolis program where she was the mayor and the IBC bank president. She also said that the combination made learning fun. “Now, I could never say in a million years did I imagine I would be an accountant. I just fell in love with math and what I could do and what I could learn.” According to Karla, the Minitropolis program not only made an impact on her future career and her life goals, but it also taught her financial literacy.

“Those are skills that I use every single day because I have to make sure that I have enough money in the bank to give my car payment or to buy something that I want. And it’s amazing because I was reading the other day an article that said two-thirds of adults cannot pass a basic financial literacy exam, and I have been practicing and gaining knowledge on financial literacy exams since I was four years old,” she said.

She recognizes that her success and achievements would not have been possible without her mentors, teachers, and her principal. “Also, I thank Dora Brown who had been one of my role models, and I still want to be like Dora.”

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