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Bank of America Gives STLCC $1 Million for Jobs Initiative

$25 Million National Program Supports Programming, Re-skilling and Upskilling for Students of Color; Includes Partnerships with Major Employers and The Aspen Institute 

St. Louis Community College and Bank of America today announced a new $1 million jobs initiative partnership to help students of color successfully complete the education and training necessary to enter the workforce and embark on a path to success in St. Louis. 

Bank of America logoThis initiative builds on Bank of America’s ongoing work in St. Louis to address the underlying issues facing individuals and communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the current health crisis. 

“Bank of America is committed to supporting innovative ways to advance racial equality and economic opportunity through educational support and training,” said Marilyn Bush, St. Louis market president at Bank of America. “This grant will help a diverse group of young adults gain skills and experience that will put them on the path to success.” 

The initiative is part of the bank’s recent $1 billion, four-year commitment to advancing racial equality and economic opportunity, and its $25 million commitment to enhance upskilling and reskilling for African American and Hispanic-Latino individuals. 

Additionally, the bank provided $600,000 in grants this year to local nonprofits focused on connecting individuals to skills and employment in St. Louis. 

Including STLCC, the $25 million nationwide initiative includes partnerships with nearly two dozen community colleges that serve predominately African American and Hispanic-Latino students, public historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and public Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs). Bank of America also is partnering with and providing funding to the Aspen Institute to convene the participating higher education institutions for technical and programmatic assistance and to share best practices. 

Today, fewer than 40 percent of community college students earn a certificate or degree within six years of enrollment. This year alone, STLCC enrollment numbers dropped 12 percent, with African American males accounting for the steepest decline. For students of color, graduation and completion rates are particularly low – 28.8 percent for African American students and 37.1 percent for Hispanic students. 

Although HBCUs and HSIs are a mix of public and private institutions, the ongoing challenges brought on by coronavirus have exacerbated their financial struggle as they seek to serve students from the most vulnerable communities. 

“The impact of the coronavirus has greatly affected our African American communities, making initiatives like these more urgent than ever,” said Jeff Pittman, Ph.D., STLCC chancellor. “This initiative will allow our school to connect with our underserved communities, promote job opportunities in growing industries, and support the long-term economic health of our local communities.” 

With support from Bank of America, STLCC will expand outreach to minority communities in St. Louis and increase internship opportunities in order to meet specific skills gaps creating higher paying, family-sustaining jobs that are in demand. 

Bank of America will work alongside Boeing, BJC HealthCare, union training programs and other industries in St. Louis to ensure these programs target specific hiring needs and create a clearly defined career pathway to future employment. 

“St. Louis Community College is one of the area’s premier providers of quality, innovative workforce training programs that benefit both employers and job seekers,” said Richard Liekweg, BJC HealthCare’s president and chief executive officer. “We are pleased to partner with STLCC and Bank of America in working to expand the pipeline for Black and Hispanic/Latino students to obtain high quality jobs in high-demand occupations.” 

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