The Statesboro-born financial institution is reaching new heights in its mission to serve the community through a financial literacy class taught to Georgia Southern student-athletes. Over the past few years, CORE has helped prepare student-athletes for a successful life after college.
CORE taught the course to over 1,000 people last year, all without charge. Wes Wilkes, CORE VP of Marketing and Business Development, realizes how important it is that they're able to reach a younger audience through the university.
"There is no replacement for time," Wilkes said. "It's a privilege to get in front of student-athletes and warn them about the mistakes we've seen. We emphasize that it's not your income level but your ability to handle finances that brings stability."
One major point emphasized was making sure the student-athletes understood the concept of credit and how every day with bad credit will cost them in the future. The class went through a simulation that allowed them to create a budget that would fit their net income. Their net salary after taxes was based on the average starting salary for popular majors and other factors such as a spouse and children.
"I think it was a really enlightening class for them because we got them engaged and they were able to see the real world cost of living versus being a student-athlete," Wilkes said.
The athletic department values this special chance to have an expert opinion on a subject that is critical to a good quality of life.
"We are grateful to have the opportunity to work with the financial institutions in our community to help ensure the success of our student-athletes beyond athletics," said Gleen Hart, Senior Associate Athletic Director of Student-Athlete Development/Life Beyond Sports.
Wilkes cherishes being able to give back to the players who bring him so much joy on gameday. Wilkes and CORE recognize it's a rare experience that most institutions don't have access to.
"It means so much to me, personally, to be able to give back to these student-athletes and be a part of something that's much bigger than us,'' Wilkes said. "We might not have that opportunity if we didn't have the partnership."
CORE understands the value of the Georgia Southern brand for its small institution. Recently, the eagle logo has helped bring them unprecedented success, but hiring alumni has been critical to their growth throughout the years.
"Georgia Southern graduates add so much value to CORE", said Michelle Dickerson, CORE Operations Manager. "Given how active we are in the community it really helps that they already have roots here."
Approximately one out of every six employees on the CORE staff is a Georgia Southern alumnus. From SR VP of Operations, Betsy Riner to former GS softball player Michelle Dickerson, CORE understands what it means to be True Blue.
"Georgia Southern Athletics played a huge part in preparing me for my career here at CORE," Dickerson said. "While there are different departments within CORE, we're all working toward a common goal just like in athletics. The time management skills I developed as a college player made the transition much easier."
While many sponsors place their advertising funds into signage and radio, CORE has a completely different viewpoint on self-promotion. In the past, they've handed out glow bands under the lights at Allen E. Paulson Stadium and set up a free photo booth for fans to capture a gameday memory.
"We only want to get involved if we can provide an experience for Eagle Nation," Wikes said. "Instead of setting up a tent and handing out brochures, we focus on building relationships with the people in our community."
CORE and Bulloch County have a rich history together that began in 1974. They are celebrating the 40th anniversary of Georgia Southern employees being a part of their field of membership.
The two institutions come from similar humble beginnings with the goal to serve its members. CORE was founded as Bulloch County School Employees Credit Union by eight residents looking to serve local educators through a non-profit financial institution. Now, CORE's field of membership includes every resident and employee of Bulloch County along with many others.