Bank of America Foundation: Grants for College Readiness

OVERVIEW: The Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the international bank, seeks to “address critical issues facing our neighborhoods and communities,” including support of community-based K-12 education programs in specific cities and regions throughout the United States where the bank does business. 

IP TAKE: BofA wants to see "high impact" and "visionary" work. For your college readiness program, make sure you can demonstrate a connection to preparing young people for the 21st Century workforce. 

PROFILE: “High-impact” and “visionary” are two terms the Bank of America Charitable Foundation uses to describe the organizations that earn its support.

In the realm of education, that boils down to initiatives that ultimately increase high school graduation and college matriculation rates with the goal being a finance-savvy generation ready to enter the workforce.

One slice of that funding is directed to college readiness - or, as the foundation puts it, "Opportunities that help students move from high school to post-secondary success (including at the community college level)." 

Formally, this objective falls under the foundation's giving in the area of Workforce Development and Education, which looks to "put individuals, including young people on a path to success" in the face of rising poverty and "youth unemployment." More specifically, the foundation is especially concerned with “[c]onnecting young people to skills and educational opportunities with an emphasis on those who are facing unprecedented challenges obtaining to employment and work experience.”

The foundation's website states that it does not give money to individual schools, but some of its recent granting (see below) runs contrary to that claim; more likely, the foundation prefers community organizations to individual schools, but within certain RFP's and circumstances, the latter can successfully apply.

The foundation currently has its sights on a specific list U.S. cities and regions—but they are major ones that cover much of the country. That said, recent grants have also gone to organizations outside these regions, so be sure to check the foundation’s website for updates.

As mentioned above, college readiness is only one part of a larger suite of strategies Bank of America has identified for improving young people's chances of being competitive in today's marketplace. That said, some recent grantees in this area include:

  • The Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County (FL), with funds specifically earmarked for its Career Paths for Next Generations program, providing 450 teenagers academic enrichment, mentorship, and career training and exploration; 
  • Take Stock of Children of Broward, which provides mentors, student advocacy, college and career readiness to at-risk and low-income students;
  • College Advising Corps, with funding going to provide "college advisers in more than 480 underserved high schools" who give help through "admissions and financial aid advising, FAFSA completion, parent outreach, college visits, and SAT/ACT access and test preparation";
  • College Forward, a "non-profit college coaching program" that gives students "one-on-one support from eleventh grade through college graduation"; and
  • College Track, a nonprofit based in Oakland, CA, that "recruits students from underserved communities and works continuously with them from the summer before ninth grade through college graduation...providing them with comprehensive academic support, leadership training, financial and college advising, and scholarships."

More information on Bank of America's giving can be found by reading its annual Corporate Social Responsibility reports.

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation’s RFPs are announced on its website, including submission deadlines and a link to an online application portal.

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