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Bank of America names Soteria its first Neighborhood Champion

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Bank of America on Wednesday announced the launch of its Neighborhood Champions program in the Upstate, naming Soteria Community Development Corp. as its inaugural awardee. 

Neighborhood Champions supports the role strong nonprofit leaders play in advancing economic mobility and is an extension of the bank’s signature philanthropic initiative, Neighborhood Builders, the largest corporate philanthropic investment in nonprofit leadership in the country, according to a news release. In addition to Upstate, the bank will take the program to 40 communities across the country this fall as part of its initiative to invest in the long-term health of communities, the release said.

Stacy Brandon, left, Bank of America’s market president, presents Jerry Blassingame, executive director of Soteria Community Development Corp., with a memento of the organization’s selection as the inaugural Neighborhood Champion for the Upstate. (Photo/Provided)Soteria will receive $50,000 in grant support and an opportunity for engagement in virtual leadership training delivered by experts in the nonprofit sector, according to the release. Soteria Community Development Corp. advocates for economic and social justice for individuals and families impacted by the criminal justice system. They work to create opportunities for previously incarcerated men to reenter society through transitional housing, life skills and job training.

“We’re thrilled to bring the Neighborhood Champions program to our community,” Stacy Brandon, Bank of America market president for the Upstate, said in the release. “Through flexible funding and leadership resources, partners like Soteria Community Development Corp. have the power to plan strategically for growth and long-term sustainability, and we look forward to seeing how this investment helps them make even greater strides to help individuals to reach their full potential.”

The Neighborhood Champions program is invitation-only for nonprofits who are poised to take their work to the next level, according to Bank of America. Leading members of the community participated in a collaborative selection process to identify this year’s awardee. Examples of the topics for the virtual leadership training awarded include human capital management, increasing financial sustainability and storytelling.

"It's an honor to partner with Bank of America to invest in the lives of those in our low-wealth communities and propel economic mobility in Greenville County," Jerry Blassingame, executive director of Soteria Community Development Corp., said in the release.

Bank of America is committed to creating economically and socially vibrant communities in the Upstate, according to the release, which said that last year, Bank of America gave more than $530,000 to support economic mobility through workforce development, affordable housing and basic human needs. During this same time period, the bank’s employees contributed more than 5,000 volunteer hours and personally gave $130,000, which was matched by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation.

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