Bank of America Grants $200K to Twin Cities Nonprofits
Two Twin Cities nonprofits, the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) and Repowered, have each been granted $200,000 in unrestricted funding as 2022 recipients of Bank of America Twin Cities’ Neighborhood Builders Program.
Neighborhood Builders is a philanthropic program launched by Bank of America in 2004 that invests in nonprofit leadership development and funds the work of community organizations nationwide. Since bringing the program to the Twin Cities in 2013, Bank of America has supported 14 nonprofits and invested $2.8 million in local organizations.
Each year, the program invites local nonprofits to apply for funding. Winners are chosen by a committee of community leaders that includes previous recipients of the Neighborhood Builders award.
LEDC and Repowered were chosen this year for their work around moving economic barriers and creating opportunities to invest in community wealth and economic mobility in the Twin Cities, said Lucas Giambelluca, president of Bank of America Twin Cities.
“We looked at these two organizations and said, ‘These are high performing and highly effective organizations that are doing the critical work that matters here in the Twin Cities,’” Giambelluca said. “When the work they are doing to advance economic mobility and workforce development is working, what you get is a community that’s healthier, more vibrant, and more successful.”
Founded in 2003, LEDC is a St. Paul-based nonprofit that works to create economic opportunities for Latinos who want to expand their businesses. Services include one-on-one technical assistance, workshops, and loans as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI).
LEDC executive director Henry Jiménez took over leadership of the nonprofit in 2019 after serving as executive director of the Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs.
“This money really isn’t mine or LEDC’s, it’s our community’s,” Jiménez said of the grant. “An investment in one person within our organizations is an investment in our community, and it’s important that everybody’s a player in the economic impact of their own.”
The other recipient of the grant, Repowered, is a nonprofit that recycles electronics, resells them at more affordable prices, and provides jobs and training to formerly incarcerated individuals. Established in 2011 and formerly known as Tech Dump, it is one of the largest collectors of e-waste in Minnesota.
“One core value is stewardship and there’s a piece where people that have been excluded from our economy aren’t thought to be stewards, but they absolutely are,” said Repowered CEO Amanada LaGrange. “When an individual’s economic power increases, it pulls everybody up around them. If we can stay centered on that, we can never underestimate the power that we have to make a difference.”
The Neighborhood Builders grant is unique from other grants in its unrestricted nonprofit funding. This means that LEDC and Repower are free to use the $200,000 however they see fit.
Jiménez said LEDC plans to put the money toward client data collection by purchasing a customer relationship management database, or a CRM. The funding will also allow them to fill in monetary gaps to continue programming.
Repowered plans to use its grant, in part, to grow its workforce readiness program. The organization also plans to implement a program redesign aimed at enabling participants to boost their own earning power and remove barriers for future opportunities.
“To be told you can use it [the grant] for what you see best, I think reflects the high change times that we’re in,” LaGrange said. “When an organization says they are granting unrestricted funds is another way of them saying, ‘we trust and respect your judgment,’ versus trying to micromanage you.”
Along with the funding, the Neighborhood Builders program aims to grow leadership skills in nonprofits. This includes giving grant recipients opportunities to further develop their skills and connect with past grant recipients. The overarching goal, said Jiménez, is to “help us become something bigger for our community.”
Added LaGrange: “We are defined by what we do next, and we’re at a time where we are long overdue to come together and eliminate a lot of the barriers that people have experienced. We know we can do it, we have brilliant people in our communities, and we have amazing amounts of resources.”