Bank of America Announces 2021 Neighborhood Builders Grantees

Live & Learn and Fresh Start Women’s Foundation have been named the 2021 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders® awardees for their work in the Phoenix community addressing local issues around women’s personal and financial empowerment. The invitation-only program is highly competitive, and leading community members participated in a collaborative selection process to identify this year’s recipients.

As a Neighborhood Builder, each organization receives a $200,000 grant over two years to expand their impact; comprehensive leadership training for the executive director and an emerging leader on topics including increasing financial sustainability, human capital management and strategic storytelling; and the opportunity to join a network of peer organizations across the U.S. The program continues to be the nation’s largest investment in nonprofit leadership development.

Live & Learn is a community-based organization that empowers Maricopa County women to break the cycle of generational poverty. The organization works with women whose entire lives have been shaped by poverty, homelessness and violence, offering them an effective pathway to stability, a career and long-term economic self-sufficiency. With a unique, two-year program that is highly individualized to each woman, the nonprofit helps more than 150 women each year end their dependence on government assistance. Yet, three times as many women remain on Live & Learn’s waitlist. The Neighborhood Builders funding will allow Live & Learn to expand to meet community demand while building sustainability.

“At Live & Learn, we believe that generational poverty is an issue of social and economic injustice that demands a sustainable solution, not a temporary band-aid,” said Kristin Chatsworth, executive director of Live & Learn. “Women living in poverty face complicated, systemic barriers to changing their circumstances and giving their children a better future. If we do not offer a viable opportunity for economic mobility, poverty only becomes more entrenched with each generation.”

Fresh Start will use the Neighborhood Builders grant to build capacity and expand their wraparound services, supporting women on their journey to self-sufficiency, education and career advancement. The COVID-19 pandemic had particularly devastating effects on women’s lives, including disproportionately impacting women’s employment and mental health. Fresh Start Women’s Foundation has been on a 30-year mission to support women’s empowerment and self-sufficiency.

“Research shows that access to education is inextricably linked to economic mobility — it is the vehicle that allows women to transition out of poverty,” said Kim McWaters, president and CEO of Fresh Start. “Yet for many of the women we serve, the chronic stress of poverty day in and day out stifles their ability to effectively pursue education and employment opportunities, a limitation that ultimately leaves them and their children stuck in desperate circumstances. We work one-on-one with women to provide the personalized, holistic support necessary to establish stability in all areas of life, equipping them with the tools to become self-sufficient and achieve their full potential.”

Since 2004, Bank of America has invested more than $280 million in 50 communities through Neighborhood Builders, partnering with more than 1,400 nonprofits and helping over 2,800 nonprofit leaders strengthen their leadership skills. In Phoenix, 36 nonprofits have been selected as a Neighborhood Builder, with the bank investing $6.8 million in these local organizations through the program.

About Julie Coleman

Julie Coleman is a contributing writer for Frontdoors Media and helps individuals, families and businesses maximize the impact of their philanthropy.
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