Less than 40% of community college students earn a certificate or degree within six years of enrollment. For students of color, graduation and completion rates are particularly low – 28.8% for Black students and 37.1% for Hispanic students.

Bank of America

Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Those numbers are a primary reason for Bank of America announcing a new $1 million jobs initiative partnership with Florida International University (FIU), Miami Dade College (MDC) and the University of Puerto Rico to help students of color successfully complete their education and receive the training necessary to enter the workforce and embark on a path to success in Miami.

“Over the past two years we have created a framework to give our learners the skills they need to enter or get promoted in specific industries. Our framework includes the design and delivery of microcredentials,” said Elizabeth Bejar, senior vice president for academic and student affairs at FIU. “This grant from Bank of America will allow us to expand our programs and make a transformative impact at a critical time when so many in our community are unemployed or underemployed.”

“Reskilling, upskilling, retooling and completing a college certificate or degree have never been more important,” said Dr. Rolando Montoya, interim president of Miami Dade College. “This endeavor will go a long way in helping those who need it most.”

This year, Bank of America provided $2,330,000 in grants to nonprofits that are connecting individuals to skills and employment in Miami. The initiative is part of the bank’s recent $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, and its $25 million commitment to enhance upskilling and reskilling for Blacks and Hispanics.

“We understand the important role skills development and training plays in advancing racial equity so students of color can thrive in our community,” said Gene Schaefer, Miami market president for Bank of America. “Bank of America is proud to partner with FIU, MDC and University of Puerto Rico to ensure their students have access to high-quality training that will empower them to pursue opportunities and have a positive impact on economic justice and mobility.”

Including FIU, MDC and University of Puerto Rico, the $25 million, nationwide initiative includes partnerships with nearly two dozen community colleges that serve predominately Black and Hispanic students, including public historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

Although HBCUs are a mix of public and private institutions, the ongoing challenges brought on by coronavirus have exacerbated their collective financial struggle as they seek to serve students from the most vulnerable communities.

With this support from Bank of America, FIU and MDC will develop or enhance existing programs to meet specific skills gaps to create higher paying, family-sustaining jobs that are in demand. Bank of America will work alongside The Miami-Dade Beacon Council to ensure these programs target specific hiring needs and create a clearly defined career pathway to future employment.

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