When Shreya Balaji found out that Sacramento is one of the sex-trafficking capitals of the United States, she was eager to do something to fight the problem.
A recent high-school graduate, Shreya is extensively involved in The Refuge, a program based in South Sacramento that provides a variety of services to underserved youth in the area, including young women from homes exposed to sex trafficking and drug abuse. She serves as a volunteer, tutor and role model, encouraging love and self-worth as well as supporting their creative growth.
Shreya’s passion for serving her community and advocating for young women without a voice led her to apply to the Bank of America Student Leaders® program. The program pairs successful high-school students with paid internships at local nonprofits. By sponsoring these internships, Bank of America is providing support that most nonprofits could not sustain themselves.
“The goal is for the students to learn about the administration and management of nonprofits as well as the service delivery models utilized,” said Lori Rianda, senior vice president of Enterprise Business and Community Engagement with Bank of America. “Financial education is provided to the students, along with leadership training and specific skill training related to running a nonprofit organization.”
As a paid intern at the Boys and Girls Club of Sacramento, Shreya brings her mentoring expertise to her work with at-risk youth in the program. The most rewarding part of the internship for her is working with the kids.
“There is a very obvious impact,” she said. “We’re all teenagers and close in age. They are six to seven years younger, but they really look up to us. This program not only helps them, but it helps develop us as well.”
Shreya also joined the other 200 student leaders from across the country at the Washington D.C. Summit where they networked, met with members of Congress and heard from various high-profile speakers.