Serving the community is ‘how we do business’

Local volunteerism and community engagement play a special part in the day-today work of Bank of America in Austin. During the past year alone, the bank has donated $986,000 to the Austin community, part of $200 million in support for nonprofits nationwide.

In Austin, the face of that work is Market President Nikki Graham. Graham not only works to bring together the various lines of business at Bank of America to better serve customers, she’s also in charge of the bank’s philanthropic efforts in the community.

“[Philanthropy] is part of how we do business,” Graham told KEYE’s We Are Austin. “It’s just part of how we operate.”

Graham, a graduate of Auburn University, is deeply involved in community work, serving on the boards of the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Capital Idea (focused on education and empowerment for women), Barton Spring Conservancy and the advisory council of the Junior League of Austin. She is also chairwoman of the board of Communities In Schools of Central Texas.

Some of the broader issues she helps focus the bank’s charitable efforts on locally include developing affordable housing, advancing job skills, fighting hunger and increasing financial literacy.

“We need to arm people — especially our young people just starting out and those living paycheck to paycheck — with resources and knowledge to set them up for financial success,” Graham wrote in an op/ed for The Austin-American Statesman. “This issue will remain one of the most critical for the next generation.”

As an example, Austin was one of five markets to help launch the DC experience as part of Student Leaders® in 2006. The program now includes a paid nonprofit internship, leadership training in Washington DC and incorporates Better Money Habits. Since the program began, the bank’s local commitment to the program has remained strong with 60 teens having completed the program.

Bank of America works closely with Communities in Schools of Central Texas to offer students an excellent internship experience. The bank also works with the City of Austin on the Sumer Youth Employment Initiative.

“To work with these amazing students is one of the highlights of my job,” Graham said.

Graham’s dedication to social impact work has trickled down to local employees. Bank of America encourages employees to spend two hours a week serving in the community, and last year employees devoted 5,877 hours in total. Austin employees also pledged $140,677 to local nonprofits last year, which was then matched by Bank of America’s charitable foundation.


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