STAMFORD -- In today's economy where many are trying to find jobs, Bank of America is stepping in to help.
"Workforce development and education has been a priority area of giving for us for many years," said Carol Heller, senior vice president, Southern Connecticut market manager at Bank of America.
This month, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation awarded $477,500 in grants to Connecticut nonprofits, including 21 in Fairfield County. The foundation's goal is connecting the unemployed, underemployed, veterans, youth and those with disabilities to training and employment opportunities.
"It's about empowering our youth, empowering individuals to go into the workforce with the right skills and readiness by educating them and preparing them," said Heller.
Through the nonprofit sector, Heller said the foundation links individuals to job opportunities by supporting organizations which provide employment and education services, like Inspirica.
One of the largest service providers to the homeless in Connecticut, Inspirica supplies housing for up to 260 people each night and serves about 700 people each year by offering programs like its Jumpstart Employment Agency. The career program offers free job placement, vocational training and educational workplace readiness.
"The focus of that program is providing vocational training and skills development to individuals that may have no experience and no skills," said Heller. "So there's significant hands-on, direct vocational training preparation that we see the need for."
The Women's Business Development Council, located in Stamford, also benefits from the foundation's grants.
"WBDC is unique," said Heller, "in that they're helping develop small business entrepreneurs which are part of our economy."
Heller said their goal is not only assisting adults who are trying to find work or advance within their jobs, but also educating youth living in Fairfield County and throughout the state.
"We've seen a need to be sure we prepare them through mentoring and education and developing skills and preparation for the work force," said Heller. "We're really looking to match our nonprofit giving to the local needs in the Fairfield County area."
In addition to Inspirica and WBDC, organizations supported by the foundation's grants this year include: the Boys and Girls Club of Stamford, Bridgeport Youth Summer Jobs Program, BuildOn, Cardinal Shehan Center, Career Resources, Carver Center, ECHO, Fairfield University, Greater Bridgeport Community Enterprises, Housatonic Community College, Junior Achievement of Southwest CT, Junior Achievement of Western CT, McGivney Community Center, Mercy Learning Center, NFTE, Norwalk Youth Summer Jobs Program, Sacred Heart University, Stamford Summer Youth Employment Program, and Teacher for America.
"Empowerment, education, and employment opportunities," said Heller. "That capsulizes our overall focus on workforce development."
Last year, Bank of America invested more than $200 million globally, as part of a 10-year goal to invest $2 billion in nonprofit organizations engaged in improving the health and vitality of communities.
For more information, including how qualifying nonprofits can submit an application for grant funding, visit www.bankofamerica.com/foundation.