Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders program was not created this year. In fact, it has been around since 2004. But, following a summer of demonstrations and demands for social justice and social equity, it may never have been so timely.
That’s why Alberto Garofalo, New Jersey market president for Bank of America, said he was especially happy to announce Millhill Child and Family Development Corp. and Norwescap as the 2020 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders awardees for New Jersey.
“As we consider many of the challenges that our community is facing — from the health and humanitarian crisis brought on by the coronavirus, to the need for progress on racial equality and economic opportunity — the Neighborhood Builders program is a relevant and timely initiative to support the communities we serve,” Garofalo said.
“Our signature Neighborhood Builders program enables partners like Millhill Child and Family Development and Norwescap to plan strategically for growth and long-term sustainability, and we look forward to seeing how this investment helps them make even greater strides to expand mental health services and create economic opportunity for underserved communities.”
The nonprofits were selected for their work in the state to address issues fundamental to economic mobility, specifically empowering children and families through individualized, culturally sensitive educational and behavioral health services and strengthening communities by creating opportunities for low-income individuals and families.
As an awardee, each organization receives a $200,000 grant, a year of leadership training for the executive director and an emerging leader, a network of peer organizations across the U.S., and the opportunity to access capital to expand their impact.
Bank of America officials feel the Neighborhood Builders program is an opportunity to provide relevant skills development and topics to help nonprofit leaders address current and future community challenges. Each year, Bank of America refines the Neighborhood Builders Leadership Program to include topics ranging from strategic storytelling to human capital management, and highlights themes that are critical to moving the nonprofit sector forward within broader societal and economic context.
Since 2004, through its Neighborhood Builders program, Bank of America has partnered with 34 nonprofits in New Jersey, investing $6.8 million to provide financial education and economic mobility opportunities within the New Jersey area. 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.
Here’s a look at each honoree:
Millhill Child and Family Development
It was established in 1971 as a nonprofit organization serving abused and neglected children in Trenton. Today, its mission is to empower children, youth and families through individualized and culturally sensitive educational, youth engagement, family support and behavioral health services.
Executive Director Cynthia Oberkofler said the honor will help Millhill expand its mental health program, which has experienced increased demand since the onset of the pandemic.
“Mental health is a top priority for us, as we continue to see individuals in our community struggling with anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of meeting basic needs,” she said. “Over the past two years, Bank of America has been a powerful partner that has gone beyond writing a check to help us provide high-quality mental health resources to our community.”
Founded in 1965 as an organization to fight poverty, Norwescap has evolved to grow beyond safety net programs and expanded to include more upstream strategies to prevent people in Northwest New Jersey from falling into poverty.
Norwescap invests in communities through six key domains: education, employment, financial empowerment, health, housing and community development, and volunteerism and civic engagement.
CEO Mark Valli said the honor will help Norwescap grow its community development program and support its work in Philipsburg to develop a new evidence-based financial opportunity center model.
“As we continue to adapt our services as a result of the coronavirus, we are focused on implementing our new financial empowerment center model, which combines case management, financial literacy, and job training all in one place,” Valli said.
“We are thrilled to be a recipient of the Neighborhood Builders grant to invest in communities of New Jersey that are often underserved and continue to build upon our financial empowerment domain.”