Bank of America (BofA) Corp’s largest philanthropic initiative is reaching into new neighbourhoods with programs dedicated to community building and leadership training.
The company gave another $22.1 million to its Neighborhood Builders and Champions programs that support nonprofits, according to a statement. Since 2004, the bank has invested more than $285 million through the programs, which have served 92 US communities.
The 17-year-old Neighborhood Builders program provides flexible funding to nonprofits “so they can decide how best to use the dollars and move their organisations forward,” George Thorn, BofA senior vice president and ESG program manager, said in an interview.
This year’s pledge will go to 142 organisations that help support communities facing economic and social challenges. Over the years, Bank of America has helped fund more than 1,400 nonprofits, providing nearly 3,000 leaders with training and networking.
Karamu House, the oldest Black producing theater in the country, has received a $200,000 grant and leadership training through Neighborhood Builders. During the pandemic, when the Cleveland-based theater was forced to shut its doors, it relied on the network, said Chief Executive Officer Tony Sias.
“We were trying to figure out how to stay relevant,” Sias said in an interview.
“Having a network of colleagues across the country
was a helpful way to exchange ideas and get a better understanding of how an organisation can pivot.”
Bank of America’s own executives take part in the program, talking with leaders in local markets to offer up advice on management — including marketing and communication strategies.
“We have specific skills and strengths” at the bank and can “leverage our dollars as well as internal knowledge,” Thorn said.
This year, Neighborhood Builders will award 100 organizations in major metro areas $200,000 in flexible funding as well as the leadership training. Neighborhood Champions, which was added in 2019 for nonprofits in smaller markets, will provide 42 organizations $50,000 in funding and virtual training.
Charlotte, North Carolina-based OurBridge for KIDS is one of this year’s recipients of a Neighborhood Builders award. The nonprofit supports immigrant and refugee families through out-of-school programs and other community-building initiatives. It plans to use the two-year, $200,000 grant to hire more staff.
“We needed the extra funding to expand the program,” founder and executive director Sil Ganzó said in an interview. “Now we can hire an extra person to take care of tasks and allow us to focus on other efforts.”