Today is definitely a very good Friday despite all the hoo-ha about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Downtown Dallas’ El Centro is all smiles thanks to $1M from Bank of America’s $25M, nationwide initiative “to create career pathways and job opportunities” for Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and community colleges.
According to BofA Dallas Market President Jennifer Chandler, “Advancing economic mobility through education and workforce training is a priority for Bank of America in Texas and across the country. Creating meaningful career opportunities that include a pathway to reducing student debt, obtaining health care and retirement benefits will ultimately help Black and Hispanic-Latino students build net worth, help their families, and have ripple effects across our communities and greater economy.”
The funding will allow El Centro “to develop (or enhance existing) programs to help meet specific skills gaps in the community to create higher-paying, family-sustaining jobs that in demand, especially those at local anchor companies, including AT&T.”
According to AT&T-Texas VP Mike Peterson, “AT&T is committed to creating economic opportunities and fostering upward mobility for Black, Hispanic and underserved communities that face long-standing social inequities and higher unemployment. Our contribution to this effort underscores our ongoing commitment to helping students succeed in the classroom and beyond. As we continue on this journey, we aspire to continue to remove barriers to academic success and career growth, and to help all students make their biggest dreams become a reality.”
BofA reports that “graduation and completion rates [are] particularly low level for students of color (28.8% of Black student and 37.1% for Hispanic students), combined with ongoing financial challenges that HCBUs and HSIs are facing.”
In addition to providing financial resources to solve the problem, the BofA program differentiates itself from other initiatives by providing:
- the wide network of partners involved from both the higher ed and corporate perspective,
- a local-first approach to create impact,
- the partnership and guidance of the Aspen Institute and the National Center for Inquiry and Improvement to convene the participating higher education institutions for technical and programmatic assistance and to share best practices.
The $25M initiative is part of BofA’s $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity that was announced last June.