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Economic opportunity, racial equity drive Bank of America's $858,550 in donations to Kern last year

Bakersfield Homless Center PPE donations

Bank of America donated personal protective equipment to the Bakersfield Homeless Shelter in 2021 as part of an $858,500 commitment to a variety of Kern County nonprofits.

Bank of America distributed $858,550 in donations among 20 Kern County nonprofits in 2021, bank officials announced. The bank's priorities reflected the need for greater racial equality, economic opportunity and basics like food and shelter during the pandemic, according to a statement released Wednesday.

The company said its contributions were intended to close equity gaps in communities of color and other disadvantaged populations hit hardest during the crisis.

"The private sector has a responsibility to provide support that can serve as a catalyst to help advance equity and economic opportunity for everyone,” President Karen Zuber of Bank of America Bakersfield said in a news release.

Among its local grants was a donation to CityServe to pay for education, job skills training and potential jobs to people who were homeless.

The bank also gave money to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kern County to support job skills programs and internships for at-risk teens.

Garden Pathways received money to help cover paid summer internships for at-risk students and mentorship programs in local classrooms.

Bank of America also granted money to the Bakersfield Homeless Center to help offer services in support of the opening of 200 additional beds, as well as the organization's afterschool and job development programs for young people.

The MLK commUNITY Initiative and its Circle of Life Dev Foundation received money in support of its money management program and efforts to promote minority entrepreneurship and leadership training.

The bank said it also donated nearly a half-million PPE masks, gloves and sanitizer bottles, and its local employees volunteered 1,757 hours in the community in 2021.