BofA gives $560K grant to help build Career Services Center at NJCU

Program aims to help students of color be better prepared to enter the workforce

Bank of America is making a $560,000 donation to the Career Services Center at New Jersey City University to aid in the effort to help students of color successfully complete the education and training necessary to enter the workforce and embark on a path to success.

The unique grant is the largest single corporate gift and most significant investment in career development in NJCU’s history, school officials said. The investment is in the form of a four-year grant that will address racial, ethnic and income inequality.

Access to good jobs and meaningful careers is key to closing the racial and ethnic wealth gap. Students of color often face daunting challenges, including financial hardship, lack of guidance in choosing courses that will help them achieve success, and lack of internship and skill-building opportunities to prepare for career readiness.

Bank of America officials said the company is working to address these issues as part of its $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to help advance racial equality and create economic opportunity by focusing on priority areas of jobs/education/skills, health, small business and housing.

The efforts build on Bank of America’s ongoing work to address the underlying issues facing individuals and communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the global pandemic.

Alberto Garofalo. (File photo)

Bank of America New Jersey President Alberto Garofalo said the company sees the big-picture value of the initiative.

“Solid employment skills are the key to self-sufficiency and economic mobility,” he said. “We hope our investment in New Jersey City University will encourage others to join us, so the next generation of leaders have the training and education they need to succeed.

“We look forward to a strong partnership with NJCU to create a world-class career development program that will deliver life-changing jobs in New Jersey for many years to come.”

Sue Henderson. (File photo)

NJCU President Sue Henderson said the school was grateful to all corporate partners and donors who invest in the lives of its students.

“This four-year investment by the Bank of America is not only a generous gift, but, even more so, will ignite life-changing experiences in the lives of our students,” she said. “Many of our students have financial insecurity and lack mentorship, soft skill development and professional development and internship opportunities, which will be addressed by this gift. We thank the Bank of America for their historic investment in NJCU’s critical goal of enhancing student success.”

NJCU, a top-performing school in multiple measurements, including social mobility, will utilize the partnership to integrate real-world experiences with in-classroom learning and professional development to assist students of color in securing meaningful internships and jobs.

NJCU, a Hispanic-Serving Institution and Minority-Serving Institution, features an undergraduate population that is 45% Hispanic-Latino and 21% Black. Additionally, 54% of its undergraduates are first-generation college students and 58% of eligible students received Pell grants during the 2020-21 academic year.

What the grant will do

The $560,000 grant from Bank of America will enable the New Jersey City University School of Business to launch the Career Readiness and Placement Program, which will challenge students of color to address real-world business problems or case studies by engaging them in a comprehensive, interdisciplinary research and problem-solving experience.

Career readiness programming will incorporate microcredentialing in critical skill areas such as Google Analytics and Bloomberg Market Concepts, connect students with industry mentors, and offer supplemental programming through which industry professionals will participate in networking events, professional development workshops and guest speaking so students can further strengthen essential industry skills and knowledge.

While CRPP is focused on assisting students of color, career readiness programming will be available to all 1,300 business students.

Josh Iannuzzi, director of career services at the NJCU School of Business, was overwhelmed by the gift.

“Many firms talk about giving back to their local communities and recruiting diverse talent — through this grant, Bank of America is taking action,” he said. “We are eager to work with those businesses who want to do more, and we will now have the bandwidth, resources and map to help them do so through this grant.”

The impact will be far-reaching, he said.

“We are particularly empowered to utilize this platform that the company has provided to engage other local business partners to educate and hire local NJCU talent,” he said.

NJCU students who complete the Career Readiness and Placement Program will develop leadership, career readiness, analytical, teamwork and presentation skills; build a network of peers and mentors to use throughout their career; broaden industry knowledge by hearing from business leaders during professional development sessions; cultivate soft skills by working with and receiving constructive feedback from advisers and mentors; and develop their professional brand.

Furthermore, this investment will increase economic returns for communities of color via entry into high-wage, in-demand careers and help build and develop sustainable and collaborative hiring partnerships.

“We know that, when given a true opportunity to compete for internship and job opportunities with top-level firms, NJCU students and alumni are wildly effective at landing and succeeding in internships and jobs,” Iannuzzi said. “At NJCU, we don’t have to search far and wide for diverse talent with grit and drive. That determination and make-up are what our students are made of, and we are eager to share this opportunity and talent pool with more of the local business community.”