Bank of America's five-year, $1.25 billion commitment comes to life through suburban nonprofits

  • Bank of America community housing is part of a commitment to create a stronger Chicgoland through local investments and direction action to address racial inequity and economic disadvantages.

    Bank of America community housing is part of a commitment to create a stronger Chicgoland through local investments and direction action to address racial inequity and economic disadvantages.

By Paul Lambert
Bank of America
Updated 10/14/2021 2:17 PM

As we head into the final quarter of 2021, it's worth reflecting on how far our Chicagoland community has come since the health and humanitarian crisis early last year.

While so much has changed -- the way we socialize, how we work, where we gather -- one thing has not: our market is full of public, private and nonprofit organizations committed to building a stronger Chicagoland.


For more than 160 years, Bank of America and its predecessor banks have taken an active role in shaping a more inclusive, more equitable Chicagoland community. As the pandemic magnified racial and social inequities and opportunity gaps, the bank moved quickly, committing $1.25 billion over five years to advance racial equity and economic opportunity through direct actions and local investments.

Many of these investments align with local funding to hundreds of Chicago-area nonprofit organizations working to stabilize communities by supporting individuals and families. Beyond funding, we recognize the power and strength in numbers, so we have worked to catalyze similar efforts across the private sector, leading by example and forging partnerships across the private, public and civic sectors to help spur opportunity and create change.

Still, it's our nonprofit partners who remain most integral to the ongoing work of building communities where every resident has an equal chance to thrive. Bank of America considers it both a responsibility and a privilege to support the work of these remarkable organizations. To date in 2021, we've given more than $6 million to 100-plus Chicago-area nonprofits whose enduring commitment ensures all residents have equitable access to food, shelter, health care, education, job training and upskilling. We've also directed financial resources to our small business community and cultural institutions, which form the foundation for strong, vibrant communities.

We'd like to recognize all our nonprofit partners working to convert our financial commitments into positive impact. Below is a sample of some of the remarkable work being done by our nonprofit partners throughout the Chicago suburbs.

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Basic needs: People's Resource Center, which operates across DuPage County, brings people together to overcome poverty and hunger. Through its Emergency Services Program, thousands of families in DuPage County have had uninterrupted access to food, financial assistance and social services throughout the COVID-19 health crisis.

Workforce development: Junior Achievement, together with Bank of America volunteers, leverages digital programming to teach young people in low-to-moderate-income communities how to generate and manage wealth, how to create jobs that enhance their communities and how to apply entrepreneurial thinking in the workplace.

Job reskilling: Through its Community Employment Services, Aspire of Illinois provides job training, job placement and on-the-job assistance to adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities, increasing their financial self-sufficiency, connecting them with community resources, and building a network of social and wraparound support.

Neighborhood revitalization: The Will County Habitat for Humanity's Almost Home project will convert two properties in Will County into interim housing for veterans experiencing homelessness while preparing them for homeownership.


Small business support: Innovative DuPage connects small business owners and startup founders -- with a focus on minority-owned businesses -- to the people, resources, mentorship and programs that support their growth.

Arts and culture: Morton Arboretum's Youth Science Education Outreach program provides no-cost experiences and field trips to students at under-resourced schools in five suburban counties.

These organizations -- and others like them -- represent our backbone, our hope and our future. We're honored to stand beside them, supporting their efforts and helping them realize a Chicagoland where social justice, racial equality and economic opportunity are the rule, not the exception.

To all Chicago-area nonprofits doing the work, we thank you for your continued commitment to our neighbors and our communities.

• Paul Lambert is the president of Bank of America Chicago.

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