Bank of America Honors Five Leaders Creating Change for People and Communities of Color

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Bank of America announced the inaugural honorees of its Neighborhood Builders: Racial Equality Award, a new recognition that honors individual leaders who are advancing racial equality and economic opportunity in Black, Hispanic-Latino, Asian American, and Native American communities.

according to a release, the five honorees are being recognized for their extraordinary contributions to break down systemic racial barriers and create opportunities for people of color across the country.

“Through this program, we are recognizing the impact of inspiring leaders in our country who are creating real change,” said D. Steve Boland, chief administrative officer at Bank of America.

“Supporting nonprofits and their leaders has been core to our approach of investing in the local communities we serve. We are proud to honor these brilliant leaders and empower nonprofits with resources to continue their work in support of communities of color.”

The Racial Equality Award is an extension of Bank of America’s signature philanthropic program, Neighborhood Builders®, which focuses on economic mobility and nonprofit leadership, according to a press release. Awardees have the opportunity to direct $200,000 in flexible funding to a nonprofit of their choice and the selected organizations will also be invited to participate in the company’s year-long Neighborhood Builders Leadership Program, which provides strategic growth and development trainings, setting the organizations up for long-term success.

The 2022 group of awardees includes:

Edgar Villanueva, founder and principal of Decolonizing Wealth Project – New York: As the founder of the Decolonizing Wealth Project and Liberated Capital, Villanueva is a globally-recognized author and expert on the intersection of race, power, and wealth. He offers hopeful and compelling alternatives to the dynamics of colonization in the philanthropic and social finance sectors. Through this recognition, Villanueva plans to direct Bank of America’s funding to Liberated Capital.

John Rice, founder and CEO of Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) – Bethesda, Md.: Rice and his organization pioneered a college-to-career model, helping students of color overcome barriers to success. By preparing low-and-moderate income undergraduates to land and succeed in competitive first jobs, Rice is ensuring they achieve lasting economic mobility. He plans to direct funding to Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT).

Luz Corcuera, executive director of UnidosNow – Sarasota/Manatee, Fla.: As a leader of UnidosNow, Corcuera is committed to empowering Hispanic-Latinos to achieve the American dream through education, integration, and civic engagement. She has a proven track record in community-building and engagement, developing and overseeing diverse community-based initiatives to empower underserved communities through prevention and education. Corcuera will drive funding to UnidosNow.

Manjusha (Manju) P. Kulkarni, executive director at the AAPI Equity Alliance, Educator/Community Advocate – Los Angeles, Ca.: Kulkarni co-founded the Stop AAPI Hate campaign, which has become one of the leading voices in the effort to identify and oppose hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Recently, Kulkarni and the other co-founders of Stop AAPI Hate were named to the Time Magazine “Most Influential People of 2021” list. South Asian Network will be the recipient of Kulkarni’s grant.

Nathaniel Smith, founder and chief equity officer of Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE) – Atlanta, Ga.: Smith and his organization work toward balanced growth and shared prosperity in Georgia and the American South. In collaboration with its ecosystem of diverse partners, PSE helps local communities of color advocate more effectively for themselves on relevant state, local, and federal economic issues, including energy policy through its ‘Just Energy’ program. Smith plans to direct funding to Partnership for Southern Equity.

This newly-established award is one example of how Bank of America continues to build on its philanthropic programs with opportunities to drive economic and social progress, including through its $1.25 billion, five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, of which it has directly funded or invested more than $450 million. Since 2004, through its Neighborhood Builders® and Neighborhood Champions programs, Bank of America invested more than $285 million in 92 communities across the U.S., partnered with more than 1,400 nonprofits, and helped more than 2,800 nonprofit leaders strengthen their leadership skills. Nearly 17 years after its launch, Neighborhood Builders is one of the nation’s largest philanthropic investments in nonprofit leadership development.