“We have to remember our humanity” -Bank of America grant aims to help migrant families

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - BusinessSince August 2022, the City of Chicago has welcomed over 35,000 new arrivals from the southern border and with the continued increase of frequency of buses many officials and local activists have called the historic numbers a humanitarian crisis. Ensuring the crisis is met head on, one organization, Instituto del Progreso Latino, has remained steadfast in its resolve to equip as many new arrivals with the resources they need for long-term success thanks in large part to a grant provided by Bank of America’s 2023 Neighborhood Builders program.

“Our mission is to ensure all immigrants and families reach their fullest potential,” said President and CEO of Instituto del Progreso Latino Karina Ayala-Bermejo. “Since the beginning we have been on the front lines of welcoming and assisting asylum seekers and migrants. This support from Bank of America will allow our organization to continue expanding and streamlining our efforts so that Chicago’s new arrivals have the resources they need for long-term success.”

The Neighborhood Builders program is one of the largest philanthropic investments into nonprofit leadership development in the nation, providing comprehensive leadership training for an executive director and an emerging leader on topics ranging from increasing financial sustainability, human capital management and strategic storytelling, and the opportunity to join a national network of peer organizations. Each Builder is also awarded a $200,000 grant over two years. This year, Instituto del Progreso Latino and North Lawndale Employment Network were named 2023 Neighborhood Builders awardees. “These organizations have a great reputation of changing the lives of people in the community. They are mission focused and they have a proven track record of making a difference,” said Community Relations Manager of Bank of America Chicago Julie Chavez.

Instituto del Progreso Latino aims to use the funding from the Neighborhood Builder program to increase their outreach under the Project A.M.O.R. response program, where the organization provides comprehensive case management services to immigrants and provide basic needs such as, legal aid, education, workforce training, employment assistance to name a few. In addition, Project A.M.O.R. has also provided hygiene kits, warm clothes, helping individuals set up and travel to doctors’ appointments, as well as sharing resources on opening bank accounts and building credit. The goal of Instituto del Progreso Latino is to double the amount of families they help. “Through Project A.M.O.R. we were able to serve 1,200 families, but with the help of the Bank of America grant we will be able to double the number this year, which is amazing,” said Ayala-Bermejo. “While our new arrivals have been met with hateful rhetoric and worry, we have to remember our humanity during this time.”

The invitation-only Neighborhood Builders program is highly competitive, and nonprofits are selected by a committee comprised of community leaders and past Builders awardees. In Chicago, 40 nonprofits have been selected as Neighborhood Builders since the program’s inception, with the bank investing$7.8 million in to these local organizations. Since 2004, Bank of America has invested more than $300 million in nearly 100 communities across the U.S., partnered with more than 1,600 nonprofits, and helped more than 3,000 nonprofit leaders strengthen their leadership skills through the Neighborhood Builders and Champions program.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Business

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