Bank of America’s Pathways Program partners with nonprofits to fuel talent pipeline

Plans have been made to hire 10,000 people from low- and moderate-income communities over the next 5 years.

Over the next five years, Bank of America’s Consumer and Small Business division plans to hire 10,000 individuals from low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Through its Pathways program, the company is working with nonprofit partners to provide professional skills training and career pathways for members of the communities the bank serves.

“By hiring from the communities we serve and helping our teammates develop their careers at the bank, we are helping our clients – and employees – lead better financial lives,” said Dean Athanasia, president and co-head of Consumer and Small Business.

We hope to build a pipeline of local talent to connect to sustainable jobs. Some partners, such as Year Up and UnidosUS, empower career-ready individuals to gain an entry point to full-time employment. Others, like Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Urban Alliance, provide opportunities for younger individuals to gain valuable career skills. The bank supports these partners in recruiting candidates for the Pathways program, which provides an onboarding plan, skills and training, and a roadmap to full-time employment and future opportunities.

Participants are trained through The Academy, a program that supports more than 66,000 Consumer and Small Business employees. The Academy offers instruction from subject matter experts, training time, mentors, immersion programs, hands-on learning, and digital tools to encourage personal ownership of future careers. In 2017, 25,000 associates participated in Academy training, with a third of those already taking the next step in their careers.

“By investing in developing our current and future workforce at all points along their career journeys, we deliver on being a great place to work,” said John Jordan, head of the Academy and Advisor Development at Bank of America.

Bank of America serves approximately 66 million client relationships with approximately 4,400 retail financial centers with one-third of those being located in low- to moderate-income neighborhoods. The Pathways program is part of a tailored, community-centered approach that connects clients and small businesses to bank’s products and services, financial education and tools, job opportunities, and capital to help improve financial lives.

Read a few early success stories:

Monica Packnett: “The catalyst I needed”

Nearly two years ago, Chicago native Monica Packnett would never have guessed that today she’d be working in Dallas as a Private Bank portfolio management assistant. Thanks to her determination, perseverance and participation in Year Up, this 2017 graduate has already made her mark.

“I was looking for an opportunity to enter the finance industry. I didn’t have a degree, but knew what I wanted. I was researching options when I saw the Year Up ad on offering both compensation to continue my post-secondary journey and an internship in a corporate environment, so I took a chance and applied. The life-changing, eye-opening, challenging experience was the catalyst I needed to begin my career.”

Year Up’s purpose is to help close the opportunity divide — the growing gap between entry-level positions and young adults who are qualified and capable but lack the resources to tap into this market.

“I interned at Private Bank in downtown Chicago, but my manager was in Dallas, so we quickly developed a phone rapport and I learned how to be vocal with my questions and requests. I took advantage of my internship by networking, learning the nuances of communication, and conducting informational interviews with colleagues. I was supported by many individuals throughout the bank and learned from their experiences to begin shaping my own path.”

When Monica was offered a full-time position, she was thrilled. “It felt like I’d broken through a glass ceiling and could see a whole world becoming more accessible to me.”

However, the opportunity also presented Monica with a new challenge: relocate to Dallas, Texas, within three weeks of receiving the job offer. With the support of Year Up employees and peers, mentors, family and friends, Monica moved to the Lone Star state. Although new to the environment, she found herself fitting in and developing the skills necessary to excel.

“I took everything I learned and braced myself for change. I took a leap of faith, and when I look back I could not have predicted anything that was to come my way. Now, I’m in school finishing my degree in finance and economics. I’ve gained a much deeper experience than if college and work opportunities were simply handed to me. I had to create my own picture of success.”

Ninive Nava: “I believed in myself and what I could do”

This month Ninive Nava will celebrate her first-year career milestone as a Merrill Edge teammate in Chandler, Ariz.“I had applied to financial companies and was not hired. Like any young adult, I wanted a life and a career, and to live my dreams. I had the desire and willingness to learn, and knew I could do more.

“After seeing a Year Up poster at the library, I called to learn more. Year Up is designed to close the opportunity divide by giving chances to people who can’t afford school or tap into other opportunities to develop their careers.”

"It seemed unreal — a stipend to participate in the training and in the internship, and the opportunity to build my skills in the industry I wanted to work in. I thought I was dreaming when Year Up accepted me.”

Ninive’s six-month internship at Merrill Edge taught her the importance of public speaking, writing and resume preparation. She also learned the business of the business: processing statement requests, managing tax documents and client agreement forms, and arranging for clients to transfer their funds online. As she progressed, Ninive was assigned more tasks and responsibilities.

One week before graduation, Ninive was hired full-time. And in the last year, Ninive has been recognized repeatedly by her team, including last fall with the Employee of the Quarter award for her performance, attitude and ability to learn new projects quickly.

“I started at Bank of America without much knowledge of the industry. Now I mentor and help train new Year Up interns.”

Ninive’s next career goal is to obtain her Series 7 and 66 brokerage licenses so she can provide financial advice. She’s also halfway through her college program, where she’ll receive an associate’s degree in accounting.

“The bank’s culture reflects my values. Some companies say they have our values, but they don’t. Bank of America really does care about its clients, its employees and its communities. It makes me want to grow my career here. I learn something new every day, and I want to make a difference.”

Daniel (Danny) Wolfe: “I have so much pride”

New York City-based Private Bank Administrative Officer Danny Wolfe also celebrates his first year as a full-time Private Bank employee in July. “Before Year Up, one of my jobs was working as an operations assistant at the Boys Club. A staff member thought I wasn’t being challenged and invited me to a networking event, where I was introduced to Year Up. I didn’t believe they would really do what they offered — provide an internship, pay me and allow me to take classes. I quickly learned it was true.”

Danny interned at Private Bank, where he worked with several investment teams assembling client presentation books and communications, among other responsibilities. He learned the business and importantly, established relationships with colleagues who could help influence his career journey.

Danny explains his success this way: “The goal is to prove that you can add value to the team. I saw the internship as a test to not only show that I want to learn, but to show what I can do once given an opportunity. You take any assigned task, do it humbly and well, and slowly people will start to trust you with more work — if you make this a habit, you will surely see your responsibilities start to grow.

“The last week of my internship, I got the full-time job offer, and it felt amazing. One year before, my life had been very different. In the blink of an eye it changed, and it still feels unreal. I have to pinch myself: I’m in corporate America. I come from a very different environment, where many people do not get opportunities like this. I have so much pride in what I’ve accomplished here at Bank of America and at Year Up, and I take pride in all the success of the alums who came before me and those who will come after me.”

Danny’s advice to new interns and all of us: be yourself — don’t try to be someone else. “You don’t have to know everything, especially when you’re just starting out. The best way to build your brand is to make sure you do the little things right, like smile, be pleasant, be on time and work hard. It can make all the difference in your career.”


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