Bank of America on Thursday announced that it will provide $1 million grants to 21 higher education institutions to enhance up-skilling and reskilling for Black and Hispanic-Latino students. More than half of those institutions are community colleges.
The company is investing in community colleges, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) in order to increase job opportunities for people of color at a community-based level that will help close the wealth gap and enhance professional career tracks for mid-level candidates. The grants are part of Bank of America’s recent $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity.
“Career opportunities are a critical pillar in addressing the racial wealth gap in our country,” Bank of America Vice Chairman Anne Finucane said in a release. “A meaningful job opportunity goes beyond the paycheck – it is a pathway to reduce student debt, obtain health care and retirement benefits, and, ultimately, build net worth. The collaborative training approach we are taking with this initiative will not only impact the lives of Black and Hispanic-Latino students, but will enable them to make real and meaningful impact in their communities now and in the years ahead.”
Public two-year colleges that will receive the grants include:
- Atlanta Technical College
- Central Piedmont Community College (North Carolina)
- Dallas College, El Centro Campus (Texas)
- Florida State College at Jacksonville
- Harold Washington College, City Colleges of Chicago
- Los Angeles Trade Technical College
- Miami Dade College
- Northern Virginia Community College
- Pima Community College (Arizona)
- Riverside City College (California)
- St. Louis Community College
Each partner institution will develop or enhance existing programs to meet specific skill gaps in their communities in order to create higher-paying, family-sustaining jobs that are in demand, according to Bank of America. The company will work with major employers in each selected market to ensure these programs target specific hiring needs and create a clearly defined career pathway to future employment.
Today, less than 40% of community college students earn a certificate or degree within six years of enrollment, the company said in its release. For students of color, graduation and completion rates are particularly low – 28.8% for Black students and 37.1% for Hispanic students. The ongoing challenges stemming from the coronavirus have exacerbated the financial struggle of HBCUs and HSIs as they seek to serve students from the most vulnerable communities.
As part of the initiative, Bank of America is also partnering with and providing funding to the Aspen Institute, which will collaborate with the National Center for Inquiry and Improvement to convene the participating higher education institutions for technical and programmatic assistance and to share best practices.