Two local nonprofits – Junior Achievement of Arizona and Year Up Arizona – have been named the 2018 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders award recipients for their efforts providing financial education and early job readiness for underserved kids and young adults. Both organizations empower youth toward upward mobility through programs that help develop the attitudes, behaviors and skills needed to pursue long-term, sustainable jobs and a stronger financial future.
The Neighborhood Builders program is the nation’s largest philanthropic investment into nonprofit leadership. It awards each nonprofit $200,000 in unrestricted grant funding to expand their high-impact programs.
Arizona continues to experience rapid job growth and new industries, with employment in and around Phoenix projected to grow at four times the national average in the next 20 years. However, the state, also has one of the nation’s highest rates of disconnected youth – young people who are homeless, in foster care, involved in the justice system, unemployed – with a 14.6 percent disconnected youth rate, 2.3 percent above the national average. These organizations seek to bridge the divide between Arizona’s youth who have a drive to succeed and employers who seek diverse, career-ready talent.
Junior Achievement will use the grant funds to support the development of their first digital curriculum for 12 to 18-year-old students to help them build a solid financial foundation. Specifically, the grant will support a portion of the curriculum that will be modeled as a video game taking place in a 3D immersive world where kids become adults, simulating scenarios related to saving, investing, risk management, credit scores and budgeting.
Year Up Arizona will use the grant funds to scale its young adult job training programs, which include six months of full-time customized job training in the IT and financial service sectors followed by six-month internships at major firms.