Bank of America Invests $10 Million in Johnson C. Smith University

November 1, 2021 at 3:00 PM Eastern

Today, Bank of America announced a multi-year, $10 million commitment to Charlotte-based Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU), one of the leading private liberal arts Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the South. Bank of America’s pledge to JCSU is part of its $1.25 billion, five-year commitment announced last year to help advance racial equality and economic opportunity in local communities.

This commitment to JCSU is the latest in more than $25 million worth of recent contributions announced by Bank of America to support the Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative in the Charlotte area, of which there are four workstreams: investing in JCSU; creating Corridors of Opportunity, promoting development within the city’s highest areas of poverty and unemployment and the surrounding communities; closing the digital divide; and increasing employer commitment to hiring from a racially diverse pool of candidates.

“Education is a gateway to a better life,” said Kieth Cockrell, President of Bank of America Charlotte. “Our long-term relationship with JCSU has set the foundation for this critical moment – a collective partnership among the public and private sectors working to eliminate existing barriers by providing unique opportunities to JCSU students. Together, we will grow a strong pipeline of the next generation of leaders in our area and beyond.”

Established in 1867, Johnson C. Smith University endeavors to provide a multicultural and transformative experience, which educates, prepares and graduates a diverse group of talented and highly motivated students who can communicate effectively, think critically and learn independently as well as collaboratively. Further, JCSU cultivates an inclusive environment in which students are equipped to be global citizens who develop a compelling sense of social and civic responsibility for leadership and service.

“We are grateful for this very generous gift from Bank of America, which has been a long-term partner of Johnson C. Smith University,” said JCSU President Clarence D. Armbrister. “Because of strong financial services institutions like Bank of America, Charlotte is now the nation’s second largest financial services hub. Therefore, it is imperative for JCSU to have strong academic programs to supply talent to Bank of America and others in the region in areas such as banking, finance, fintech and entrepreneurship. This gift will allow us to strengthen and expand our business department programs and develop graduates who are prepared for the jobs of the future. The funds will also be used to drive innovation in the development of entrepreneurs in their quests to create generational wealth and break through the limits that have been placed on their move up the ladder of economic mobility. Thank you, Bank of America, for such a transformative commitment to the students of JCSU!”

North Carolina is home to 149 colleges and universities and nearly 200,000 Black-owned businesses, making it a hub for Black students and entrepreneurs. Despite Charlotte being the 23rd largest metro area in the country, there is still a need to connect venture capital firms, which are traditionally West Coast-based, and emerging Black student entrepreneurs, who are disproportionately located on the East Coast and in the South.

Along with today’s announcement, Bank of America’s investments in support of the Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative include:

  • Helping to close the digital divide by donating 10,000 Chromebooks for Charlotte-Mecklenburg students to use in their homes. The Chromebooks are supporting students with their education and helping their families by providing critical connectivity to educational tools, job opportunities, online training and other resources. More than 90% of the households who received devices are racially and ethnically diverse.
  • In addition to 10,000 devices, Bank of America pledged 10,000 volunteer hours to support local students during the current school year through tutoring, mentoring, and in other ways.
  • Supporting a recently created investment firm, Bright Hope Capital LLC, which is providing dollars and leveraging decades of executive experience with an eye toward creating wealth and opportunities for Black- and Hispanic-owned businesses in the Charlotte region.
  • Committing multiple Leaders on Loan to the Charlotte community, a program for bank executives to help accelerate work at local organizations. This includes the dedication of one executive to help in implementing a part of the Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative.
  • Providing $6.5 million in below-market financing for economic development in the city’s corridors of opportunity.

Other recent Bank of America announcements focused on racial equality, diversity and inclusion and economic opportunity include:

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Reporters May Contact:

Mark T. Pipitone, Bank of America
Phone: 1.980.387.4907