Workforce development & education

We're committed to connecting individuals to jobs to move local economies forward. Our philanthropic partnerships build on our long-standing focus on workforce development — including alternative pathways, youth employment and helping those with barriers to employment obtain second chances. Our efforts include how we hire, recruit and retain employees at our company.

We connect underserved groups, with a focus on those from low- and moderate-income communities, to the skills, resources and experience they need to succeed. By partnering with nonprofits, we help youth reach their full potential through early employment experience and help young adults and those with barriers to employment connect to work opportunities. Inside our company, we promote people’s career paths with our many professional development and engagement practices.

Connecting people to meaningful employment requires public/private partnerships and collective expertise to prepare individuals for jobs that exist in our communities. Together, we can help build a stronger pipeline of diverse talent and fuel local economic growth — all of which contribute to the success of the customers and communities we serve.

student using computer

Preparing a diverse pipeline of talent for today’s jobs

We're continuing to invest in our local communities to help prepare individuals for jobs and to fuel economic opportunity. That's why we're partnering with local organizations and other companies to help people get the skills they need to be successful in high-demand careers.

Our efforts include our $25 million investment in 21 higher education institutions, including community colleges, historically Black colleges and universities and Hispanic-serving institutions. Combined with an increased commitment to hiring by major employers, that means more opportunities for more members of our community.

Students paying attention

Building skills for youth and young adults

To help open up opportunities for youth and young adults, we invest in various workforce development programs that help them build skills and professional networks to succeed. These initiatives create sustainable change by advancing economic futures for individuals, building a diverse pipeline of talent for us and other companies and fueling economic growth for communities.

One of our signature programs, Student Leaders®, helps civic-minded high school students develop deeper leadership and job skills, which are tools to create positive change for themselves and others. Every year, we help connect more than 300 high school juniors and seniors to service opportunities and skills training. Student Leaders® participate in an eight-week paid internship with local nonprofits like Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Habitat for Humanity. They also get to see how nonprofits, governments and businesses collaborate to meet local needs by participating in the national Student Leaders® Summit in Washington, D.C.

Student Leaders smiling

Young ambition takes flight

Shreya Balaji may be a young adult, but her take-action attitude has benefitted many around her home town of Sacramento. As a volunteer, tutor and role model with The Refuge, a program for underserved Sacramento youth, she encouraged self-worth and supported the creative growth of young women from homes exposed to sex trafficking and drug abuse.

Shreya’s passion for serving her community and advocating for young women led her to apply to the Bank of America Student Leaders® program. We were happy to have her as a paid intern at the Boys and Girls Club of Sacramento, where even more at-risk youth benefitted from her mentoring expertise.

Man thinking in office

Unlocked Futures

In 2017, we partnered with John Legend's organization, FREEAMERICA, and New Profit to found Unlocked Futures. This accelerator supports entrepreneurs impacted by the criminal justice system who are operating mission-driven organizations. Since the partnership began, we’ve committed $1 million to support it.

Besides facing the normal challenges of starting a business, formerly incarcerated people face many barriers when they re-enter society, like lack of access to formal job training. In addition, this problem disproportionately affects people of color.

Unlocked Futures gives these entrepreneurs an unrestricted $50,000 grant and one year of expert strategic support to help them increase the impact of their organizations. They will also receive coaching from Bank of America senior executives, in addition to working with FREEAMERICA to collectively and powerfully tell their stories to shift public mindsets and break the stigma of returning from incarceration.

Roughly 500,000 individuals are released from prison each year, and nearly 50% of them end up back in prison within five years. A lack of access to education, housing, jobs, healthcare and other resources helps contribute to this high rate of recidivism. We partner with programs like Unlocked Futures to offer access to needed programs and resources that can help break this cycle.

I have seen that entrepreneurship is a viable way for individuals impacted by the criminal justice system to build sustainable livelihoods and contribute to their communities and neighborhoods.
John Legend  |  Grammy winner and activist
Person cutting vegetable

Serving up new beginnings

The French restaurant run by EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute in Cleveland, Ohio isn’t just about good food. It’s part of a coordinated program to empower formerly incarcerated adults with culinary education, jobs, housing, legal services, medical care and more.

EDWINS was named a Bank of America Neighborhood Builder® in 2016, receiving $200,000 in flexible grant funding and leadership development and training for two of its leaders, which helped further fuel its success. To date, 97% of program graduates are employed. Plus, the recidivism rate barely breaks 1%, compared to the national average of 44%.

Our Neighborhood Builders® program supports nonprofits that enhance the communities we serve, giving them the tools to reach their vision and achieve greater success. Since 2004, we’ve invested more than $220 million and partnered with 1,000+ nonprofits and 2,000+ nonprofit leaders across the country.

Cultivating an exceptional team

We are committed to being a great place to work, which takes concerted efforts to invest in workforce development programs that advance skills-building; to attract, hire and retain exceptional talent that is inclusive and diverse—like the 27,000 employees who joined us in 2018; and to advance career paths by connecting individuals with career advancement opportunities.

We help bring populations that have historically been underrepresented in the industry into financial services. We offer tools and resources for those who face extra employment barriers like the formerly incarcerated and individuals with disabilities. Our company actively recruits and engages women, people of color, veterans and the LGBTQ+ community, too. Once an employee joins our team, there are resources available at every level of the company — like our myCareer website and Career Path Tool — that encourage professional development and engagement for a prosperous career with us.

Ruth smiling

Pathways and Year Up® programs

To help people from low- and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods build lucrative, sustainable careers, we work with various nonprofits to connect local talent with training and employment.

Our Pathways program is helping to build a pipeline of career-ready individuals equipped with the skills to succeed, and we’ve committed to hiring 10,000 people from LMI communities by 2024. And through our partnership with Year Up®, we’ve assisted in their efforts to give urban young adults access to professional careers and higher education. To date, we’ve been privileged to provide more than $4 million in funding and have hired hundreds of Year Up® participants for internships and full-time work.