Bank of America gives Harold Washington College $1 million for jobs initiative

Submitted by Julie Thorson
Updated 11/20/2020 6:31 PM

Harold Washington College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago, and Bank of America today announced a new $1 million jobs initiative partnership to help students of color successfully complete the education and training necessary to enter the workforce and embark on a path to success in Chicago. This initiative builds on Bank of America's ongoing work in Chicago to address the underlying issues facing individuals and communities of color who have been disproportionately impacted by the current health crisis.

"Jobs are a critical pillar to address the racial wealth gap in our city and across our country," said Paul Lambert, Chicago market president, Bank of America. "Our partnership with Harold Washington College will create a stronger hiring pipeline for Black and Hispanic-Latino students in Chicago that will enhance economic mobility for future generations. That's something we can all be proud of."


This year, the bank provided more than $1 million in grants to nonprofits that are connecting individuals to skills and employment in Chicago. The jobs initiative is part of the bank's recent $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, and its $25 million commitment to enhance up-skilling and reskilling for Black/African American and Hispanic-Latino individuals. Harold Washington College is the first educational institution in Illinois to receive support from the bank's $1 billion commitment.

Including Harold Washington College, the $25 million, nationwide initiative supports nearly two dozen community colleges that serve predominantly Black/African American and Hispanic-Latino students, public historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and public Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs). Bank of America is also partnering with and providing funding to the Aspen Institute to convene the participating higher education institutions for technical and programmatic assistance and to share best practices.

"Over the past few months, City Colleges have played a critical role in supporting our residents as they reskill and skill up in response to the economic challenges created by COVID-19," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "Partnerships like the one between Harold Washington College and Bank of America not only amplify this invaluable work, but it also contributes to our citywide goal to develop reliable pathways to economic mobility for our Black and brown students. Additionally, this collaboration builds on City Colleges' longstanding history of serving residents of color and will further solidify equity and inclusion as key pillars of our city's educational systems."

Located in the heart of Chicago's business district, Harold Washington College is the community college system's Center of Excellence in business and provides pathways for students to transfer to four-year universities or launch and advance their careers. A federally-designated Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and Minority Serving Institution (MSI), more than 70 percent of the college's 11,000 students identify as Latinx or Black.

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The Bank of America grant will enhance Harold Washington College's Center of Excellence in business, its growing network of apprenticeship and work-based learning partners, and will compliment City Colleges' city-wide technology programs.

"At Harold Washington College, we are committed to providing our students with dynamic learning experiences that prepare them to realize their dreams of upward mobility," said President Daniel Lopez. "This support from Bank of America will help us scale up our efforts to prepare our students for in-demand technology and business careers."

With the support from Bank of America, Harold Washington College will work with employer partners to enhance its cyber security, software development, and business curriculum and develop aligned work-based learning experiences to prepare students for family-sustaining jobs across Chicago. This work will launch through a partnership with national technology firm Catalyte. Harold Washington College faculty and staff and Catalyte will build work-based learning opportunities, internships, enrichment and mentoring to complement the college's new basic certificate in cybersecurity program. The relationship will also provide for industry vetting of course content and professional development for faculty and staff.

"We applaud Bank of America's commitment to sponsoring programs at Harold Washington College that create pathways to technology careers for local residents from communities that are often overlooked," said Jacob Hsu, CEO at Catalyte. "Catalyte is honored to be a partner in this worthy cause, bringing our proven methods for identifying, training and developing high-potential software engineers to power innovation in Chicago."

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