Not many years ago, Keith McDaniels was struggling to afford classes at a Boston community college while working a minimum-wage job. ?I was really overwhelmed and frustrated by my financial situation and eventually gave up my college dream to work full time for a security company to pay my bills,? McDaniels says.
So when he first heard about Year Up, an innovative education and workforce development program for young adults, he thought it sounded too good to be true. However, he decided he had nothing to lose. He applied and was accepted.
The yearlong program begins with six months of rigorous technical training and classes in professional skills development, followed by six months in an internship with a local partner company. After completing the first part of his training, McDaniels was placed in an internship at Bank of America, which ultimately offered him a full-time position. ?This was a big turning point in my life,? he says. ?Three years later, I still can?t believe that I am an analyst at Bank of America. I learned so much through the Year Up program, and thanks to the opportunity that Bank of America gave me, I was able to get my life on track.?
Year Up has grown to serve more than 300 young adults (ages 18 to 24) each year in Boston and 1,100 more students across eight other cities in the United States.
?Bank of America has hosted 70 interns and hired seven graduates full-time in Boston,? says Casey Recupero, Year Up Boston?s executive director. ?Bank of America has also played an important role in our growth, providing financial support that has helped us scale up our operations to serve more students in Boston and across the country.?
?Our goal is to connect unemployed, underemployed, veterans, youth and those with disabilities to employment success.? ? Kerry Sullivan
In partnering with Year Up, Bank of America is leveraging its philanthropy and business practices to empower young people to obtain professional jobs with a livable wage and to pursue postsecondary education. Year Up is only one of many nonprofit organizations that receive support from Bank of America in keeping with its focus on workforce development and education as part of a comprehensive approach to addressing community needs.
Training Workers for 21st-Century Jobs
?We are at a crossroads in the United States as we move forward from the economic downturn,? says Kerry Sullivan, president of Bank of America?s Charitable Foundation. ?As part of our lending, investing and giving to make communities better places in which to live and work, we are focused on three core issues vital to economic vitality: housing, jobs and hunger. Our strategy is simple ? we want to help individuals gain the knowledge and skills that will enable them to compete in today?s global economy.?
From Good Will to Good Jobs
Established in 1965 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont (GISP) provides employment, job training and career services for adults and youth in 18 counties throughout North Carolina and South Carolina. By operating as part of a network of 165 autonomous Goodwill organizations, GISP is able to provide workforce development programming throughout a large and diverse region. Individuals have found success in acquiring new skills through training programs in a variety of fields, such as hospitality and tourism and banking and customer service, as well as construction. Goodwill also helps people find temporary and permanent employment by matching participants? skills and abilities with employers? needs through its GoodWork Staffing business and six job resource centers in the region. Bank of America has been a proud partner of Goodwill for 15 years.
?From Good Will to Good Jobs,? Bank of America, July 17, 2012 (about.bankofamerica.com/en-us/partnering-locally/goodwill-industries-charlotte.html).
To that end, in 2012, Bank of America is providing more than $22 million in grant support to more than 1,000 nonprofits to support workforce development and education programs across the country. ?Our goal is to connect unemployed, underemployed, veterans, youth and those with disabilities to employment success through education and workforce training programs,? says Sullivan. ?By leveraging our philanthropy, business practices and volunteerism, we are helping low- and moderate-income individuals and families gain financial stability and long-term success.?
Bridging the Achievement Gap
Bank of America supports programs that help middle school and high school students successfully bridge the achievement gap facing many of our young people, and that help them make the transition to higher education. ?We do this to help students of all ages access and complete postsecondary education and obtain jobs that offer them a living wage,? says Sullivan.
During the past two years, Bank of America has invested more than $20 million in academic achievement, dropout prevention and mentoring programs such as National College Advising Corps, Citizen Schools, Teach for America, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Boys and Girls Clubs of America. The bank has also supported educational programs that help first-generation Americans and minorities attain their educational goals. Those initiatives have included robust partnerships with the United Negro College Fund and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund.
Community College Partnerships
?Education is the key to combating unemployment and underemployment,? says Sullivan. ?That?s why we?re partnering with a range of national and local nonprofits to address college access and college completion with a focus on community colleges.?
Community colleges play a major role in the U.S. educational system, but only 54% of students at these local two-year institutions complete their degrees.1 Often, financial problems or other life issues disrupt the educational process. According to Sullivan, this underscores the need for programs that provide pathways for knowledge and skills to put individuals on the road to stable employment. ?We?ve partnered with organizations like Achieving the Dream, a national initiative that works with community colleges in seven states, to help support community colleges in designing programs that teach students financial management skills ? a critical step in helping students stay in college and achieve financial stability,? she says.
Boys and Girls Clubs In New Jersey ? Career Launch
Bank of America supports Career Launch, a comprehensive program that focuses on helping young adults ages 16 to 18 understand the connection between educational and career success, explore career possibilities, develop career pathways, gain work experience and prepare for college or trade school after high school. Students participate in career exploration, planning, work readiness skills, internships, tutoring and counseling programs. Bank of America?s support is targeted to seven clubs that reach more than 2,000 youths in the Career Launch program. Nearly 200 young people will be connected to employment opportunities.
?We also work with national partners such as Year Up, YouthBuild and the National Wildlife Federation in partnership with Jobs for the Future to support educational advancement and connect workers to high-growth employment opportunities such as green jobs,? she adds.
Connecting People to Employment Opportunities
?Beyond educational partnerships, we are helping underemployed and unemployed individuals obtain the experience and skills they need to gain economic self-sufficiency with a livable-wage career,? says Sullivan. This support includes partnering with organizations that provide job training and placement programs such as GED prep, adult literacy, case management and on-the-job vocational skills.
?Our support,? she says, ?helps a wide range of individuals in need of assistance, whether this be a military service member or a low-income single mother. Partnerships such as Year Up offer a great example of how we also support internships, apprenticeships, mentoring and coaching to help individuals transfer their existing skills and experience to meaningful and sustainable careers.?
Part of the Solution
Bank of America?s focus on workforce development and education is only one component of Bank of America?s broader Corporate Social Responsibility activities, which aim to foster responsible business practices, strong economies (from consumer and commercial lending to investing and promoting economic development and philanthropy, helping nonprofits and addressing critical needs such as housing, hunger and jobs), environmental sustainability, leadership and service (that is, supporting the development of individuals and organizations that advance economies and society), arts and culture, and diversity and inclusion.
?Promoting strong and vibrant communities, economies and markets has always been part of our mission,? says Andrew Plepler, a Bank of America Global Corporate Social Responsibility and Consumer Policy executive. ?It is critical to the success of our business and the success of everyone we serve. By making these investments, we are creating better communities in which to live and do business, which ultimately serves the company well in the long term.?
For more on Bank of America?s workforce development initiatives, visit our About?Us website.
1 ?Achieving the Dream,? Bank of America, 2012 (about.bankofamerica.com/en-us/global-impact/supporting-communities.html).
Some of the featured participants are not employees of U.S. Trust. The opinions and conclusions expressed are not necessarily those of U.S. Trust or its personnel.