Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS) and OIC of South Florida have been named as the 2021 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders® awardees for their work in the Fort Lauderdale community addressing the region’s issues around learning loss in educational and developmental achievement (the “COVID slide”) and barriers to employment.
As a Neighborhood Builder, each organization receives a $200,000 grant over two years, comprehensive leadership training for the executive director and an emerging leader on topics ranging from increasing financial sustainability and human capital management to strategic storytelling. The nonprofits join a network of peer organizations across the U.S. and get the opportunity to access capital to expand their impact. The program continues to be the nation’s largest investment into nonprofit leadership development.
“The pandemic has affected the education of our youth and created challenges for businesses related to labor shortages, retention and talent acquisition as they look to meet rising customer demand. These two issues are evident in the Fort Lauderdale community as nonprofits are still experiencing significant demands and are in need of resources to help meet critical local needs,” said Lori Chevy, president, Bank of America Fort Lauderdale. “MODS and OIC of South Florida were selected for their work to address the learning gap due to the pandemic and provide access to employment opportunities in emerging industries, respectively. Programs like Neighborhood Builders help these organizations grow sustainably and strategically for greater positive impact in the community.”
MODS, one of the largest museums of its kind in Florida, offers informal science education through interactive exhibits, job training internships and field trips. The funding provided by the bank will support MODS’ initiative to help mitigate the long-term educational effects of the pandemic by implementing a learning recovery program targeted at 19 public elementary schools in Fort Lauderdale. Science education is one of the most important subjects due to the problem solving and critical thinking skills it develops, yet students in the 19 schools averaged only a 37% passing grade on the Florida Statewide Science Achievement — even before the pandemic. One of the new programs being implemented is the STEMobile, MODS’ traveling Makerspace that will deliver two full days of interactive activities at each school, enabling students to participate in challenges in robotics, coding and aviation.
“We are deeply honored to receive the Neighborhood Builders grant from our partners at Bank of America. We believe MODS belongs to our diverse community, and through our equity, access and inclusion initiatives, we help create a community where everyone belongs. MODS welcomes and values individuals from all walks of life, connecting people to inspiring science from cradle to career,” said Joseph P. Cox, president and CEO of MODS. “The Neighborhood Builders funding will fuel STEMobile outreaches and onsite field trips for underserved and at-risk communities to help combat the COVID slide. Through the grant, MODS also will support teachers who work with learners in lower middle income (LMI) areas with professional development in STEM. Access to high quality education, like a MODS experience, fights inequality and develops skills that can lead to better jobs, higher earnings and an end to the cycle of poverty.”
Similarly, OIC of South Florida (OIC-SFL), since 2001, is committed to helping people achieve economic stability through workforce development training, job placement services and family strengthening initiatives. To date, the organization has trained and placed over 15,000 South Florida residents in high-demand careers and continues to provide quality youth development programming to 7,000 students on an annual basis. The funding from the bank will help to broaden OIC-SFL’s impact and support its mission to equip and empower individuals in underserved communities, by providing them access to employment opportunities, education/training and work readiness skills to pursue a career with a family-supporting wage. With a projected 20% increase in additional jobs openings in key industries such as construction, hospitality and tourism, OIC-SFL will be able to prepare residents for these employment opportunities allowing them to take their seat at the economic table.
“It is an extreme honor, and we greatly appreciate being awarded the Neighborhood Builders grant. OIC of South Florida is entrenched in the community providing pathways to success for youth and adults seeking self-sufficiency for themselves and their families. In partnership with Bank of America, we will continue to provide critical training and skills development to those most in need in our community. OIC will utilize the grant to grow its social enterprise which provides training and employment with a livable wage to the unemployed or under employed. Investing in the social enterprise will allow us to employ more people that will work in the communities where they live, thereby providing economic impact and a sense of pride in being contributing members of their community,” said Oneida Khalsa, OIC’s Director of Finance and Administration who has been named as their emerging leader. “We will also invest in professional development and leadership training for OIC staff who are boots on the ground in the community every day. I joined OIC with the intention of utilizing my skills to improve my community and OIC has provided me the opportunity to strengthen our organization and staff as we empower people on a daily basis.”
Since 2004, Bank of America has invested over $280 million in 50 communities through Neighborhood Builders, partnering with more than 1,400 nonprofits and helping more than 2,800 nonprofit leaders strengthen their leadership skills. Here in Fort Lauderdale, 27 nonprofits have been selected as a Neighborhood Builder, with the bank investing $5,400,000 into these local organizations through the program since 2004.
The invitation-only program is highly competitive, and leading members of the community participated in a collaborative selection process to identify this year’s awardees. Neighborhood Builders is just one example of how Bank of America deploys capital in communities, builds cross-sector partnerships, and promotes socioeconomic progress as part of its approach to responsible growth.
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At Bank of America, we’re guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. We’re delivering on this through responsible growth with a focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across our eight lines of business and reflects how we help fuel the global economy, build trust and credibility, and represent a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It’s demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace we create for our employees, the responsible products and services we offer our clients, and the impact we make around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organizations, to bring together our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact. Learn more at about.bankofamerica.com, and connect with us on Twitter (@BofA_News).