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MBEP MEMBER SPOTLIGHT:

Bank of America

Invests in Regional Well-being

Bank of America recently announced more than $485,000 in grants to Monterey Bay nonprofits that work to put economically disadvantaged populations on the path to long-term financial stability.

The local nonprofits receiving funding provide workforce development services building pathways to employment as well as programs that support basic needs such as hunger relief, healthcare, and emergency shelter — resources that have been critical throughout the pandemic.

Recipients include MBEP member Digital NEST, which provides youth from low-income households with the latest digital technology and skill-based STEM-inspired training programs to develop local talent for regional jobs, and the Natividad Foundation, which established pop-up COVID vaccination clinics to help more essential workers, such as agricultural farmworkers, get vaccinations. That funding was critical to bringing vaccines to thousands of Monterey County’s essential and underserved residents, says Natividad Foundation President/CEO Jennifer Williams. Combined with a gift last year to help purchase medical equipment for the hospital’s converted COVID Unit, it makes Bank of America the largest funder of Natividad’s COVID-19 response.

Other organizations receiving grants include Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County; Food Bank for Monterey County; Future Citizens Foundation; Housing Matters; Monterey Peninsula College; Rancho Cielo, Santa Cruz Office of Education; Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County; California State University Monterey Bay and Young Women’s Christian Association.

This current round of grants across Monterey Bay builds on the over $1.5 million in grants that Bank of America has provided to local organizations since 2016.

Investing in the region is key to boosting regional economic development and economic mobility for all, says Bank of America Senior Vice President/Monterey Bay Market Executive Jennifer Dacquisto, not just for the bank’s clients but its 220 employees who live and work here in the tri-county area and the region at large. So far this year, Bank of America’s Monterey Bay employees have volunteered almost 700 hours to better their communities.

“Over 97 percent of our funding goes to support the predominantly Hispanic/Latino community because that group makes up about 50 percent of our community,” said Dacquisto. “What we know is that when we are thriving, we all lift each other up.”

Dacquisto said there are many parallels between Bank of America’s funding priorities and MBEP’s initiatives across the region, which is why the financial institution is now an MBEP member.

“The reality is that there is so much synergy with Bank of America, in what our funding priorities are and what MBEP is working on, says Dacquisto. “It makes sense. We can’t do it alone: We need collaborative efforts, and that’s really why we joined.”

One key area Dacquisto plans to pursue in conjunction with MBEP is financial literacy outreach, particularly at the high school level.

Bank of America already invests significant resources into financial literacy, she said, but many students, and adults, still lack basic financial knowledge when it comes to such things as balancing a checkbook, building good credit, and understanding basic banking services, and those skills aren’t taught in school. “The truth is, a lot of people are intimidated, or perhaps don’t speak the language,” Dacquisto said,” and we see children helping their parents, so educating children is important.”

Even with existing outreach through California State University, Monterey Bay, public libraries and local food banks, Dacquisto said there are large segments of neighborhoods across the Monterey Bay region that remain untapped. Reaching those communities, and ensuring the next generation gains solid financial understanding, is key to helping families build economic stability and to creating a more equitable region.

“We’d like to broaden our reach, and we’re very interested in taking it to high schools,” said Dacquisto. “That’s what we’re about. We live and work here in this community, and our kids go to school here. Bank of America, as much as we’re a big bank, we’re also a local, community-minded bank and we take that responsibility seriously.”

Pictured, Bank of America Financial Center Teammates in Seaside show their Aloha Spirit in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May.