Bank of America gives $565,000 to help Charlotteans rise out of poverty

By Mark Price | 

This article was originally published in The Charlotte Observer in Local News


Bank of America announced Monday that, for the second week in a row, it’s party to a $500,000 investment to help Charlotte tackle its ranking as the city least likely to see low-income people seldom rise out of poverty.

The $565,000 in donations unveiled Monday are going to 16 nonprofits working through education and workforce development, including colleges, charities and veterans groups.

Last week, the bank joined Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan in announcing a $500,000 investment in charities working with literacy.

In all, the bank has given about $13 million locally in the past three years, said Charles Bowman, Bank of America’s North Carolina and Charlotte president.

Much of the money has been aimed at helping Charlotte tackle the issue of social mobility. A 2014 study by Harvard and the University of California at Berkeley showed upward mobility for children in poverty is more difficult in Charlotte than in any of the country’s 50 largest cities. As a result, a series of charity programs has been unveiled to help with graduation rates and job skills training.

Bowman says the Monday announcement underscores the bank’s ongoing commitment to the Charlotte community, which has been an area of local concern since it became clear in 2010 that board chair and CEO Brian Moynihan, was not going to live in Charlotte.

Moynihan lives in Boston, a move that stoked speculation the bank might relocate its headquarters. Over the years, the bank has adamantly said it has no plans to make such a move, but the conversation lingers.

“When people say you are not invested in the community, I challenge that a little bit and say look at all the investment we’ve made here and we’re continuing to fund,” said Bowman.

The $565,000 provided Monday is going to such charities as A Child’s Place, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Charlotte Bridge Home, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, the YMCA of Greater Charlotte and the Community Culinary School.

Bowman said the announcement Monday was partly aimed at getting publicity for the 16 agencies, which have a track record of success. “We would like other funders to join us in helping them,” he said.

Blake Bourne of the nonprofit Charlotte Bridge Home attended Monday’s ceremony and said the money is going to help the agency support veterans who need help finding work and connecting to other services. The agency served 1,000 vets in the past 11 months, he said.

“We serve every era, every age, every branch,” said Bourne. “We see veterans that are new to the community and they’re ready to be successful today … And we see some that exited the military 15 to 20 years ago and have stumbled since then. They tried to go it alone, that didn’t work and now they are looking for help.”


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