Pasadena nonprofit organizations AbilityFirst, Door of Hope, Hillsides and Union Station Homeless Services were among the recipients as Bank of America announced $3.97 million in grants to 104 Southland nonprofits that will help drive economic opportunity and upward mobility for individuals and families in hopes of putting them on a path toward stability and success.
The local nonprofits receiving funding primarily offer workforce development services building pathways to employment, including providing education and resources to rebuild careers that may have been impacted by the pandemic. Additional programs funded by these grants support basic needs such as hunger relief, healthcare and emergency shelter.
The first of two rounds of grants to be issued by the bank in 2021 is coming at a critical time as the region reopens and rebounds, with local economist estimating it could take three more years until Los Angeles’ employment levels reach pre-pandemic levels. They note there is a fundamental need for developing more resilient, inclusive systems to address the disproportionate impacts to people of color, women and those in education, including teachers.
“The strategic investment into immediate short-term and longer-term needs has been key in helping disadvantaged communities progress as society and the economy begin to safely reopen,” said Raul A. Anaya, president of Bank of America Los Angeles. “By investing in Los Angeles’ incredible network of nonprofits, Bank of America provides philanthropic capital to help advance economic and social progress, enabling our region to succeed.”
Many nonprofits already are putting the bank’s recent round of investments to work in communities hardest hit by the pandemic or to address social injustice. Many recipient organizations are providing job skills in some of Los Angeles’ poorest neighborhoods where unemployment rates are as high as 30%.
“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the needs of families facing homelessness are greater now than ever,” Door of Hope’s Executive Director Megan Katerjian said. “Door of Hope is grateful that Bank of America recognizes this increased need, and has stepped up in a big way to help families in need. From a generous $25,000 grant for our shelter programs, to technical expertise provided by employees who serve as volunteers, I couldn’t imagine a better partner to address the homelessness crisis in our community.”
For example, JVS SoCal,which continues to see a demand for its services due to lingering economic impacts of COVID-19, is using its funds to provide career-readiness training to residents in low-income areas across Los Angeles County for jobs in healthcare, medical back-office support, apartment management and in banking. More than 70% of JVS’ clientele are Latino and Black. The P.F. Bresee Foundation sees high unemployment and socio-economic isolation in Central Los Angeles and is utilizing its funds to train and mentor youth from low-income families on such soft skills as resume writing, email etiquette, and emotional intelligence. The program generally secures jobs for youth after training. EXP,which has seen how the pandemic left many Los Angeles teens and young adults feel disconnected and hopeless, is looking to reach hundreds of underserved high school students across the county to improve graduation rates and prepare them for college or careers.
“We are humbled by the recognition and funding we’ve received from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation for the AbilityFirst supported employment program,” said the organization’s CEO, Lori Gangemi. “This was the fourth consecutive year we’ve received support from the bank and our partnership is crucial for creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities.”
These grants are part of the company’s commitment to improve the financial lives of individuals and families. Philanthropic and volunteer investments – such as the more than 24,000 hours that local bank employees contributed in 2020 – play a key role in this effort to build thriving communities.
“At Bank of America, we’re guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection,” the company said in a statement. “We’re delivering on this through responsible growth with a focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across our eight lines of business and reflects how we help fuel the global economy, build trust and credibility, and represent a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It’s demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace we create for our employees, the responsible products and services we offer our clients, and the impact we make around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organizations, to bring together our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact.”