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Bank of America Names South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development as Neighborhood Champion in Recognition of Work to Advance Economic Mobility

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Programs that help address the region’s issues around economic mobility and investing in underserved communities will be able to scale, helping even more people through a multi-year grant from Bank of America. The South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development (SCACED) has been named as the 2021 Bank of America Neighborhood Champion for its work addressing these issues in the Lowcountry and throughout South Carolina.

As part of the program, SCACED will receive $50,000 in grant support and an opportunity for engagement in virtual leadership training delivered by experts in the nonprofit sector on topics like human capital management, increasing financial sustainability and storytelling. 

Black small businessowners have been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. Bank of America surveyed 300 Black businessowners across the country and found that 48% of Black entrepreneurs retooled their operations in response to the pandemic – double that of the national average.  As part of its commitment to economic mobility, Bank of America is both engaging directly with business owners of color to ensure they have access to resources needed to secure funding and partnering with nonprofits like SCACED and The Opportunity Center that aim to help meet the needs of underserved entrepreneurs and minority-owned businesses.

Through the Opportunity Center and with the help of Bank of America’s Neighborhood Champion grant, SCACED will be able to address the resource support gap for minority entrepreneurs through a business incubator program known as the Business Success Center. Housed and offered through the Opportunity Center, the Business Success Center is an entrepreneurial ecosystem builder, expanding support services such as affordable capital and organizational development to minority-owned businesses throughout the Lowcountry.

“As communities continue to recover and navigate a changing landscape, nonprofits are still experiencing significant demands and are in need of resources to help address impacts on marginalized communities and promote economic mobility,” said Mark Munn, president, Bank of America Charleston/Hilton Head. “The South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development helps bridge important gaps for organizations and entrepreneurs to chart a path toward economic opportunity and stability. Programs like Neighborhood Champions help these organizations grow sustainably and strategically for greater positive impact in the community.”

“We are grateful to Bank of America for selecting SCACED to receive this year’s Neighborhood Champion award to support The Opportunity Center and our efforts to uplift minority entrepreneurs,” said Bernie Mazyck, President & CEO of SCACED. “The grant funding will allow SCACED and collaborative partners of The Opportunity Center — Increasing HOPE, Center for Heirs Property Preservation and Homes of Hope — to provide critical technical assistance and training to minority entrepreneurs to help them access vital capital for their businesses. As SCACED enters this critical field of entrepreneurial development, Bank of America will assist us in strengthening our organizational leadership in the areas of financial sustainability, organizational development, and program development, which will help strengthen our organization for the future.”

As part of its commitment to workforce development and economic opportunity, Bank of America also partnered with SCACED earlier this year, providing a $25,000 grant for a first-of-its-kind 3D printer pilot program. The initiative developed new business models for distributed manufacturing in a more inclusive production ecosystem – leveraging 3D printing for economic development and social good. Each participant, called “Explorers,” received a 3D printer and associated materials to set up and safely run their own microfactory in their homes, giving them the ability to create their choice of industrial consumable parts, medical models or lifestyle products, such as shoes or toys. The South Carolina pilot is the first step toward developing a business model for a globally connected network of safe “Make-at-Home” manufacturing that places production close to the point of consumption – and addresses workforce inclusion and sustainability at the outset.

 Alongside Charleston/Hilton Head, the bank will bring the Neighborhood Champions program to over 42 additional communities across the U.S. this fall as part of its commitment to investing in the long-term health of communities. The Neighborhood Champions program is invitation-only for nonprofits who are poised to take their work to the next level. Leading members of the community participated in a collaborative selection process to identify this year’s awardee.

 The Neighborhood Champions program is an extension of the bank’s signature philanthropic initiative, Neighborhood Builders®, the largest corporate philanthropic investment in nonprofit leadership in the country. Since the program’s inception in 2019, Bank of America has invested $6.3 million in 126 organizations within 42 communities through the Neighborhood Champions program.

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