$25 Million National Program Supports Programming, Re-skilling, and Upskilling for Students of Color; Includes Partnerships with Major Employers and The Aspen Institute
Florida A&M University (FAMU) and Bank of America announced Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, 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 Tallahassee.
This initiative builds on Bank of America’s ongoing work in Tallahassee to address the underlying issues facing individuals and communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the current health crisis.
“Creating job opportunities through skills development is one of the most fundamental ways to advance racial equality and economic opportunity in our community and address the wealth gap in our country,” said David Hulse, Tallahassee market president, Bank of America. “Through this partnership with FAMU, one of the most widely respected historically Black colleges and universities, we know that students will receive great training and opportunities to set them on a path for success.”
This year, the bank provided $87,000 in grants to nonprofits that are connecting individuals to skills and employment in Tallahassee. The initiative is part of the bank’s recent $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, and its $25 million commitment to enhance up-skilling and reskilling for Black/African American and Hispanic-Latino individuals.
Along with FAMU, the $25 million, nationwide initiative includes partnerships with nearly two dozen community colleges that serve predominantly Black/African American and Hispanic-Latino students, public historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and public Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs). Bank of America is also 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, less than 40 percent of community college students earn a certificate or degree within six years of enrollment. For students of color, graduation and completion rates are particularly low – 28.8 percent for Black 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.
FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., expressed his appreciation for the Bank of America partnership initiative, stating that is well-timed and needed.
“This partnership addresses one of the most fundamental issues facing our students – ensuring they have the financial resources to capitalize on educational opportunities that prepare them for high-demand job opportunities in a constantly evolving world,” Robinson said. “This partnership will also help us improve students’ retention and graduation rates, as limited finances are too often the stumbling block for many of our otherwise extremely talented students.”
With the support from Bank of America, FAMU will enhance existing programs to meet specific skills gaps to create higher paying, family-sustaining jobs that are in demand. Bank of America will work alongside local employers, including the city of Tallahassee, to ensure these programs target specific hiring needs and create a clearly defined career pathway to future employment.
“We are proud to join Bank of America in their jobs initiative to expand career opportunities in Tallahassee and further enhance our partnership with FAMU,” said Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey. “This initiative will provide the training and resources necessary as we further our commitment to cultivating and retaining talent right here in Florida’s capital city.”