Banking & Finance

American River Bank, a subsidiary of American River Bankshares [NASDAQ-GS: AMRB], with the American River Bankshares Foundation awarded $147,500 to nine nonprofit organizations in Northern California. In Sonoma County, Legal Aid of Sonoma County will receive $50,000 over a three-year period. Since 2005, the foundation has donated $572,500 to over 35 organizations. In mid-February, the bank hosted celebrations in Sacramento and Sonoma (images at flickr.com/americanriverbank) to showcase the grant recipients and raise awareness of the foundation.

Redwood Trust, Inc. (NYSE:RWT) of Mill Valley declared a first-quarter regular dividend of 28 cents per share, up from the 25 cent quarterly dividend paid its shareholders for the past six years. The dividend is payable on March 29 to stockholders as of March 15.

Rabobank, N.A., launched a program that automatically rewards customers for everyday banking. Compared to an airline or hotel loyalty program, Rabobank Rewards Banking allows customers to automatically earn higher rates and free services, save with loan discounts and get money back. For example, customers can earn up to 0.20 percent extra on CD and money market rates, save up to $750 off a mortgage appraisal and receive reimbursements for overdraft fees and fees for using non-Rabobank ATMs. Rabobank also offers a free SwitchAgent service to simplify moving a customer’s checking account, including online bill payments and automatic debits, from another bank.Education

Redwood Credit Union, in partnership with the Sonoma County Office of Education and Santa Rosa City Schools, plans to offer eighth free 16-hour Financial Academy sessions for Sonoma County high school juniors and seniors. Using the High School Financial Planning Program created by the National Endowment for Financial Education, the program includes helpful topics such as budgeting, financial planning, saving and investing, credit and debt management, and other life skills related to managing money. Upcoming sessions will be held at the credit union’s headquarters at 3033 Cleveland Ave. in Santa Rosa on March 19--20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on March 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. To register, visit redwoodcu.org/academy or call 707-576-5259. Space is limited. Nearly 300 students have graduated from Financial Academy since it was introduced in 2009, and the program has received positive response from students, parents, educators and legislators. The credit union also offers adult financial literacy and outreach programs, and hosts free educational seminars and events for members and the community throughout the year.

The application deadline for the Doyle Scholarship at Santa Rosa Junior College, restored for the 2013--14 academic year, is March 14. High school graduates (class of 2013) with a 3.0 unweighted grade-point average can apply. Contact the SRJC Scholarship Office at 707-527-4740, or visit santarosa.edu/scholarship.Energy

Enphase Energy, Inc. (NASDAQ: ENPH) of Petaluma said the 902-kilowatt photovoltaic project at Strain Ranches in Arbuckle was successfully commissioned. The new solar system will power commercial rice drying and storage of more than 50,000 tons of medium Calrose rice during the annual two-month harvest. North State Solar Energy of Forest Ranch managed the installation of 3,760 Enphase microinverters and SolarWorld modules. The system has been generating energy since early January.