People walk past a Bank of America sign in New York, the US. The company gave another $22.1m to its Neighborhood Builders and Champions programmes that support non-profits. Picture: CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS
People walk past a Bank of America sign in New York, the US. The company gave another $22.1m to its Neighborhood Builders and Champions programmes that support non-profits. Picture: CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS

Bank of America’s (BofA’s) largest philanthropic initiative is reaching into new neighbourhoods with programmes dedicated to community building and leadership training.

The company gave another $22.1m to its Neighborhood Builders and Champions programmes that support non-profits, according to a statement on Monday. Since 2004, the bank has invested more than $285m through the progammes, which have served 92 US communities.

The 17-year-old Neighborhood Builders programme provides flexible funding to non-profit “so they can decide how best to use the dollars and move their organisations forward”, George Thorn, BofA senior vice-president and manager of its environmental, social and governance (ESG) programme, 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 non-profits, providing nearly 3,000 leaders with training and networking. 

Karamu House, the oldest black producing theatre in the US, has received a $200,000 grant and leadership training through Neighborhood Builders. During the pandemic, when the Cleveland-based theatre was forced to shut its doors, it relied on the network, said CEO Tony Sias.

“We were trying to figure out how to stay relevant,” Sias said.  “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 programme, talking with leaders in local markets to offer 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 organisations in major metro areas $200,000 in flexible funding, as well as the leadership training. Neighborhood Champions, which was added in 2019 for non-profits in smaller markets, will provide 42 organisations with $50,000 in funding and virtual training. 

OurBridge for KIDS, based in Charlotte in North Carolina, is one of 2021’s recipients of a Neighborhood Builders award. The non-profit supports immigrant and refugee families through out-of-school programmes 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 programme,” 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.” 

Bloomberg News. For more articles like this please visit Bloomberg.com

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