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21st Century student artwork featured on Cornerstone annual report

Seven-year-old Shakeya McCain has never ridden the incline railway, but her painting of Chattanooga's famous funicular will don the front of Cornerstone Bank’s annual report this year.

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0313MTfeat21Century: Cornerstone Bank Relationship Manager Doug Hightshue plays with art contest winner Shakeya McCain and runner up Maurice Franklin on playground equipment donated to 21st Century Child Development center through the bank’s community foundation.

A student at 21st Century Child Development center, an Eastlake non-profit that provides the highest childcare rating offered by the state of Tennessee to local low income families, McCain recently participated in an art contest provided by the bank. After a long standing professional relationship with 21st Century, who was also the recipient of a grant from the bank’s foundation, the company decided to use artwork from students as the cover of the report instead of the work by a professional artist.

"Part of our responsibility as a bank is not just to be a bank on Lookout Mountain, Signal Mountain or North Chattanooga, but to be a part of this community,” said Cornerstone Community Bank chairman Miller Wellborn.

Before creating entries for the contest, the 21 Century students were given the opportunity to travel to different landmarks across Chattanooga and get better acquainted with the city they live in.

“It was very important for us to expose them hands on to some of these places,” said 21 Center Child Development Center executive director Angela Hayes. “We didn’t just want to show them a picture. We wanted some emotional ties to it and for them to put themselves at the site and imagine things outside their neighborhood.”

McCain’s piece was chosen specifically for its boldness, simplicity and movement. These are three words Wellborn said he hopes describe the bank but also that he know describe 21st Century. He championed the work of the organization that offers opportunities for children and parents in the city who sometimes need a little extra assistance when it comes to giving their child the best opportunities possible.

Diciree Wheeler, who was one of the center’s original founders, explained that 21st Century takes children ages 6-weeks to 12 years old. The center picks children as early as 6 a.m. and gives them a place to be after school until 6 p.m., and some students who do not attend school can spend up 12 hours a day there and eat as many as three meals a day at the center. In addition to caring for children, the organization also works to provide cultural opportunities for the students.

“One of the things we really want to do is enrich the children through exposure because we know if they’re not exposed their possibilities are limited,” said Hayes.

The bank is also in the process of partnering with the organization to create a neighborhood garden on the center’s campus.

For more information about 21st Century Child Development center, visit www.21ccd.org.

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