Programs that help address the region’s most pressing issues of economic mobility and basic needs issues will be able to scale, helping even more people through a multi-year grant from Bank of America. The Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative and Ser Familia have been named as the 2021 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders® awardees for their work in the Atlanta community addressing these issues.

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

“As communities continue to recover and navigate a changing landscape, nonprofits are still experiencing significant demands and are in need of resources to help meet basic needs and community development,” said Al McRae, president, Bank of America Atlanta. “The Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative and Ser Familia are helping bridge important gaps for individuals and families to help them chart a path toward economic opportunity and stability. Support and programs like Neighborhood Builders help these organizations grow sustainably and strategically for greater positive impact in the community.”

Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative (AWBI) works to close the racial wealth gap through community wealth-building strategies. With Atlanta being one of the top cities for income inequality in America, AWBI strives to create opportunities for Black-owned businesses and Black residents in the city and across the South by introducing new systems and structures of capital. The Neighborhood Builders grant will be used to support their “1000 Black Businesses in 1000 Days” campaign that launched in March 2021, which will allow more Black-owned businesses to scale by hiring their first employee and increasing living wage jobs for existing employees.

“The Neighborhood Builders award provides an incredible opportunity to expand AWBI’s efforts to address the intersectionality of our work and the ways wealth, or the lack thereof, intersects with one’s ability to be free across all systems,” said Latresa McLawhorn Ryan, executive director, Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative. “Balancing internal infrastructure development and external leadership while honoring our deep commitment to uplifting the transformative work of our dynamic partners is critical during this period of rapid growth for the organization. This leadership development experience and opportunity to develop a deeper partnership with Bank of America will help us broaden our capacity to better serve the Black-owned businesses and organizations that are the lifeline of our small business ecosystem.”

Ser Familia is an organization serving as advocates and providing vital programming for low-income Latino families across North Georgia. Programming includes assessment of basic needs, crisis intervention, legal assistance, financial literacy, family workshops, youth programs, mental health services, and counseling services for individuals and families. The Neighborhood Builders grant will be used to provide basic needs for families impacted by the pandemic.

“This incredible gift from Bank of America will allow us to continue to respond to the needs of our Latino families who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic,” said Belisa Urbina, CEO, Ser Familia Inc. “Our community not only has suffered job losses and financial hardship, but also an increase of serious mental health illness as well as more cases of domestic violence and child sexual abuse. We are humbled to have been selected for this program which we are sure would be transformational for our organization.”

Since 2004, Bank of America has invested over $280 million in 50 communities through Neighborhood Builders, partnering with more than 1,400 nonprofits and helping more than 2,800 nonprofit leaders strengthen their leadership skills. Here in Atlanta, 36 nonprofits have been selected as a Neighborhood Builder, with the bank investing $7.2 million into these local organizations through the program.

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. Neighborhood Builders is just one example of how Bank of America deploys capital in communities, builds cross-sector partnerships, and promotes socioeconomic progress as part of its approach to responsible growth.

Photo provided by: Bank of America