In struggling communities, new forms of help are now needed
As the private sector innovates in aid and funding, finding holistic solutions to neighborhood challenges is a cornerstone of the approach.
Communities across the country are increasingly dealing with issues that can stretch, and sometimes overwhelm, their available resources. The health crisis underscored this when, as millions lost their jobs, food bank demands soared and community health clinics and local hospitals became frontline triage centres. These events have also amplified disparities in access to health care, employment and economic opportunity for communities of color – issues that have persisted for generations.
For local communities to thrive, especially those with vulnerable populations, more affordable housing is needed, better access to health care must be provided, pathways to education must be made available, and resources to support local entrepreneurs increased. Faced with urgent needs in the communities where it operates, the private sector is increasingly striving to find ways to meet community needs as part of its day-to-day operations, driven by the realization that corporations cannot succeed only if the communities they serve are also successful. Businesses, which depend on healthy communities for their own prosperity, must play an important role in finding solutions.
Find new ways to help local communities in need
Financial services companies are innovating new approaches to raise capital and provide support to address challenges ranging from lack of affordable housing to too few career development opportunities, while supporting business goals. It’s an approach that reflects a growing recognition that the values of any business must include looking out for everyone’s needs, not just those of shareholders.
Through sustainable finance efforts, Bank of America is working on several fronts to tightly tie the long-term sustainability of the communities in which it operates to its global business strategy.
Companies from various sectors have recently stepped up their efforts to meet local needs. For example, as rising house prices become beyond the reach of local residents, tech companies are investing in affordable housing. Additionally, job training and wellness programs are increasingly included in benefits as employers become more attentive to the challenges their employees face in rapidly changing local economies. And while there is an altruistic element to these efforts, the private sector is increasingly aware that the health of the communities it serves impacts the health of the businesses that serve it.
For its part, Bank of America recently:
- Engaged $1.5 trillion through 2030 to the sustainable efforts of environmental and social enterprises
- Tripled its commitment to finance affordable housing projects to $15 billion by 2025
- Provided a record $6.6 billion in funding for affordable housing and economic development in 2021, resulting in more than 13,000 housing units for individuals, families, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities special needs and formerly homeless
- Committed to advance racial equality and economic opportunity in local communitieswith capital for employment initiatives, housing support and health care, more than $350 million dedicated to minority entrepreneursand $50 million in investments in Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs)
- Continued to be the largest private investor in CDFIs with a portfolio of loans, deposits and investments now exceeds $2 billionincluding approximately $100 million in MDI deposits
Since 2013, Bank of America has issued $11.85 billion spread across nine green, social and sustainability bonds – five green bonds, two social bonds and two sustainability bonds – which focus on areas such as clean energy, energy efficiency, affordable housing and community development and the global coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, Bank of America co-authored the original Green Bond Principles, a voluntary set of guidelines and standards intended to bring integrity to this market where proceeds help fund environmental projects. Bank of America is also a member of the industry group’s executive committee, which has provided advice on ESG-themed bond issuances since its inception.
Sharing success by providing opportunities
Another way businesses are working to support healthier, more sustainable communities is by coordinating with local and national nonprofits to provide job training opportunities, career paths and more. At Bank of America, this includes:
- $370 million in philanthropic investments to drive economic mobility in communities across the country, including more than $94 million to support workforce/employment development, $87 million for development community/affordable housing and more than $81 million for basic needs, including nearly $5 million for natural disasters and humanitarian efforts
- More … than $265 million over the past 16 years through the Neighborhood Builders program, which aims to create more sustainable communities by providing nonprofits with flexible funding and assistance with leadership training and strategic planning
- Partnerships with 21 higher education institutions and major employers to improve the skills and retraining of black and Hispano-Latino students
- Expanded opportunities for 100,000 women entrepreneurs in Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell
As communities continue to face a variety of challenges affecting their neighborhoods, the ability of local and national governments, nonprofits, and the private sector to work together to provide solutions will become more critical.
Since sizing the necessary capitalfor support long-term career pathsfor help provide health care or food safetyBank of America continues to deepen its commitment to ensuring local communities across the country have the resources they need.
Learn more about the “Financing a Sustainable Future” series.
This position was created by Bank of America, NA Member FDIC
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