How Bank of Americas Neighborhood Builders Program is Contributing to Seattles Economic Vitality

The nations largest philanthropic investment in nonprofit leadership development is making a positive impact on our city.

November 28, 2017

Anthony DiBlasi


sponsored by Bank of America

Theres no doubt that Seattle is an entrepreneurial powerhouse. For the second time in a decade, Seattle is the fastest-growing big city in the country, exemplified by 2.9 percent job growth in 2016 and the more than 5 million square feet of office space built over the past two years.

While both new and established businesses are enjoying this increasing growth, the impact on surrounding communities is often overlooked. At Bank of America, were committed to growing in a way that creates tangible value for our business, clients and the neighborhoods we serve. An important part of this responsible growth strategy in Seattle, and many other communities across the country, involves forming strong partnerships with nonprofit organizations in order to bring together our shared values, networks and expertise to achieve greater impact.

A cornerstone of these efforts is our Neighborhood Builders program. As the nations largest philanthropic investment in nonprofit leadership development, this program recognizes two high-performing nonprofit partners contributing to our communitys growth and vitality by addressing issues fundamental to economic mobility in the region every year. The programs award combines $200,000 in flexible funding along with leadership development resources for existing and emerging leaders. The grant recipients are chosen by a committee of bank leaders, community influencers, and previous Neighborhood Builders recipients who look for nonprofits that have a track record of success and promising plans for the future, but lack the financial resources to execute their visions.

Since Neighborhood Builders inception in 2004, Bank of America has invested $220 million in more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations and provided leadership resources to nearly 2,000 nonprofit leaders. In Seattle alone, $5.2 million has been invested locally and 26 nonprofits have participated in the program, including Plymouth Housing, Refugee Women’s Alliance, Nourish, Southwest Youth and Family Services and Food Lifeline. The Neighborhood Builders program gave each of these organizations the lift they needed to get to the next level of community impact.

Image Credit: Juma Ventures

This years two honorees are no different in continuing the legacy of innovative, impactful work being done in the Seattle area.

The 2018 Neighborhood Builder Winners Are: The Chief Seattle Club and Juma Ventures.

The Chief Seattle Club is being recognized for its efforts to nurture and renew the spirit of urban American Indian and Alaskan Native people by providing meals, medical support, housing assistance and computer training, as well as hosting spiritual events and cultural outings. The grant will help the Club add necessary resources to its team, so they can increase individual donations and undergo a capital expansion project. Passionate about this work, Executive Director Colleen Echohawk said that because urban Native people are seven times more likely to experience homelessness, this investment will also greatly improve outcomes for individuals who are experiencing homelessness in Seattle.

“Chief Seattle Club is excited to partner with Bank of America on the Neighborhood Builders grant. Seattle has a serious homelessness crisis, said Chief Seattle Club Executive Director Colleen Echohawk. Bank of America’s capacity building funds paired with leadership development, will help Chief Seattle Club significantly improve outcomes for our homeless community. We are so grateful for the support.”

Over 50,000 meals are served every year at The Chief Seattle Club and members can access quality nursing care, mental health providers, chemical dependency professionals and traditional healing practices. Native people in urban areas face unique challenges, and the Chief Seattle Club embraces the cultures, languages and traditions of Alaska Natives and American Indians as the primary method for healing and transformation.

We also recognize Juma Ventures; dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by matching youth from low-income households with programs that provide employment, educational and financial skills support. Currently serving 70 “Opportunity Youth” described as out-of-school and out-of-work per year, Juma plans to expand that to 150 by 2020, and this grant will help with the expansion of work opportunities and programming. Jumas acting CEO, Adriane Gamble-Armstrong, sees this investment and support from the bank amplifying the organizations impact in the Seattle community.

“We are humbled by the recognition of our peers and tremendously grateful for Bank of America’s support as we amplify our impact in the Seattle community, said Acting CEO Adriane Gamble-Armstrong. Over the next two years, we will double the number of youth we are able to connect to a trajectory of lifelong employment and advancement.”

In 2013, Juma expanded their social enterprise operations to Seattle. Through partnerships with major hospitality and food service companies like Centerplate and Delaware North Companies, Juma offers year-round employment at Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field, home of the Seahawks, Mariners and Sounders. Juma Seattle serves both college-bound students and youth who are out-of-work and out-of-school, ages 16-24. Since 2013, Juma Seattle has employed over 550 youth who have collectively earned over $1.5 million in wages and saved $220,000 for college through their matched savings program all while developing career skills and receiving financial education.

The Neighborhood Builders program is much more than a monetary donation. It helps develop each organizations leadership team and operational capacity so they can maintain sustainable growth. In fact, the leadership development component of the program is the largest philanthropic investment in nonprofit leadership development in the nation. The bank also provides marketing materials, volunteer support and in-roads to the business community that help the entire organization reach the next level of impact.

As a business leader, Bank of Americas investment in these organizations stems from the knowledge that helping urban Native people and low-income youth isnt just about providing services and support its about creating pathways to better financial futures, as well as supporting the economic vitality of our city. When corporations partner with nonprofits to share their guidance, time and resources with organizations like Chief Seattle Club and Juma Ventures, they contribute to helping Seattle thrive.

About the Writer: Anthony DiBlasi is the Washington State and Seattle Market President for Bank of America, and serves on the boards of the Washington Roundtable, and the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, as well as the Seattle Chamber of Commerce Executive Committee. For more information on Bank of Americas impact in Seattle, visit www.bankofamerica.com/seattle

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. 2017 Bank of America Corporation