Introducing the Neighborhood Builders: Racial Equality Award

A new addition to our signature philanthropic program

As part of our work to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders: Racial Equality Award recognizes individuals who’ve made extraordinary contributions to break down barriers and create economic opportunities for Black, Hispanic-Latino, Asian American, and Native American people nationwide.

The Racial Equality Award is an extension of Bank of America’s signature philanthropic program, Neighborhood Builders®. Through this recognition, each awardee will direct $200,000 in flexible funding to a nonprofit of their choice and the selected organizations are invited to participate in the company’s year-long Neighborhood Builders Leadership Program, which provides strategic growth and development trainings, setting the organizations up for long-term success.


Read more about the 2022 inaugural awardees:

Edgar Villanueva, New York, NY

John Rice, Bethesda, MD

Luz Corcuera, Sarasota, FL

Manjusha P. Kulkarni, Los Angeles, CA

Nathaniel Smith, Atlanta, GA

Edgar Villanueva

Edgar Villanueva
New York, NY

Founder and Principal of Decolonizing Wealth Project

Villanueva is an award-winning author, activist, and globally-recognized expert on the intersection of race, power, and wealth. As the Founder and Principal of the Decolonizing Wealth Project and its fund, Liberated Capital, Villanueva advises a range of organizations, including national and global philanthropies and Fortune 500 companies, on how to advance racial equity through social impact investment strategies. Villanueva is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, and wrote the bestselling book Decolonizing Wealth, which was described by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi as “[a] pathway to healing that we all need.” Villanueva plans to direct Bank of America’s funding to Liberated Capital.

“I am deeply honored to work alongside other leaders working tirelessly to advance racial equity and economic opportunity for communities of color. At Decolonizing Wealth Project (DWP), we’re disrupting the existing systems of moving and controlling capital through reparative giving, narrative change and healing programming. I am grateful that Bank of America is taking important steps to lift up the critical work of DWP and the other grantees with the Neighborhood Builders: Racial Equality Award,” said Villanueva.

John Rice

John Rice
Bethesda, MD

Founder and CEO of Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT)

Rice has been helping students and professionals of color achieve career success for over 20 years. He serves as the Founder and CEO of Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing racial and economic disparities by empowering a new generation of Black, Hispanic, and Native American leaders. Under Rice’s leadership, MLT pioneered a college-to-career model, helping students of color overcome barriers to success. By focusing MLT’s efforts on preparing low-and-moderate income undergraduates to land and succeed in competitive first jobs, Rice is ensuring they achieve lasting economic mobility, which can close racial wealth gaps and impact generations to come.

In 2014, Rice was appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. He plans to direct funding to Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT).

“Sixty percent of the nearly 500,000 Black and Latino students who graduate from college each year end up unemployed or in jobs that don’t require a four-year degree. That is not acceptable. Bank of America’s investment in MLT empowers Black and Latino communities by equipping these students with the professional coaching, high performance playbook, and employer connections they need to land career-path jobs that guarantee economic mobility for them and their families,” said Rice.

Luz Corcuera

Luz Corcuera
Sarasota, FL

Executive Director of UnidosNow

As an immigrant woman born in Peru, Corcuera grew up with a unique understanding of the challenges of integrating into a new community and country. She saw education as the path out of poverty and towards a better life, and her passion for uplifting underserved communities led to a lifetime of work in community-building and engagement. Corcuera now serves as the Executive Director of UnidosNow, a Florida-based nonprofit organization committed to empowering Hispanic-Latinos to achieve the American dream through education, integration, and civic engagement. She has a proven track record in community-building and engagement and has focused her efforts on developing and overseeing diverse community-based initiatives to support and give a voice to marginalized communities. Corcuera will direct Bank of America’s funding to UnidosNow.

“I am honored and humbled to be one of the inaugural recipients of Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders: Racial Equality Award. I am grateful to all the amazing partners, mentors, donors, colleagues, friends, and family that have inspired me for the past 22 years to never stop believing in the power of us and to continue building hope. Bank of America has been instrumental in providing the guidance and support to make Manatee and Sarasota a region that cares for our most vulnerable, elevating and lifting up our voices and our work,” said Corcuera.

Manjusha (Manju) P. Kulkarni

Manjusha (Manju) P. Kulkarni
Los Angeles, CA

Executive Director of the AAPI Equity Alliance

Kulkarni has dedicated her life to fighting for equity. Kulkarni currently serves as the Executive Director of the Los Angeles-based AAPI Equity Alliance, a coalition of 40+ community-based organizations advocating for 1.5 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in Los Angeles County with a particular focus on low-income, immigrant, refugee, and other disadvantaged sectors of the population. Manju also serves as a lecturer in the Asian American Studies Department at UCLA.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kulkarni co-founded Stop AAPI Hate, the leading aggregator of coronavirus-related hate incidents against AAPIs in the nation. The data and stories compiled by Stop AAPI Hate helped drive national action among community members to stand up and speak out against anti-Asian discrimination. Due to their activism, Kulkarni and her fellow Stop AAPI Hate co-founders were named to the Time Magazine “Most Influential People of 2021” list.

In 2014, Kulkarni received the White House Champions of Change award from President Barack Obama, which recognized her dedication to improving health care access for Asian American communities. In March 2021, she testified before the House Judiciary Committee on anti-Asian hate. Kulkarni will direct Bank of America’s funding to the South Asian Network.

“I am incredibly honored to receive the Neighborhood Builders: Racial Equality Award from Bank of America and delighted to be able to support South Asian Network, an organization dedicated to addressing racial, social and economic disparities experienced by South Asian Americans and ensuring equity for all marginalized communities in Southern California,” said Kulkarn.

Nathaniel Smith

Nathaniel Smith
Atlanta, GA

Founder and Chief Equity Officer of Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE)

Smith always knew that he would grow up to fight for civil rights and racial equity. An Atlanta native and child of Civil Rights Movement activists, Nathaniel grew up inspired by the activism of his parents, who fought for a better world under the guidance of Martin Luther King, Jr. After studying at Morehouse College and The New School, Smith founded the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE), a multi-issue organization dedicated to balanced growth and shared prosperity in Georgia and the American South. In collaboration with its ecosystem of diverse partners, PSE helps low-income communities of color advocate more effectively for themselves on relevant state, local, and federal economic issues, including energy policy through its ‘Just Energy’ program.

In 2017, The Huffington Post honored Smith as one of the eight “Up and Coming Black Leaders in the Climate Movement.” Smith plans to direct funding to the Partnership for Southern Equity.

“I appreciate Bank of America's commitment to the equity ecosystem, and I'm honored to receive the Neighborhood Builders: Racial Equality Award. The gravity of the events, trials, victories, and defeats of the push for racial equity during the COVID-19 pandemic is not lost on any of us. Bank of America's ongoing support of our work helps us to stay the course today and every day,” said Smith.


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