Bank of America Program Provides $200,000 in Flexible Funding to Lift to Rise and OPARC to Advance Economic Mobility Across the Inland Empire

Bank of America Honors Neighborhood Builders®

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INLAND EMPIRE – Programs and services that are addressing access to affordable housing and workforce development for adults with disabilities will increase with help from a multi-year grant from Bank of America. The goal is to help more people chart a path toward economic opportunity.

Lift to Rise and OPARC have been named as the 2022 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders® awardees for their work across the Inland Empire removing economic barriers to advance opportunity.

The Neighborhood Builders program continues to be the nation’s largest investment into nonprofit leadership development. Each organization receives a $200,000 grant over two years, comprehensive leadership training for the executive director and an emerging leader on topics ranging from increasing financial sustainability, human capital management and strategic storytelling, joins a network of peer organizations across the U.S., and has an opportunity to access capital.

“Nonprofits are the spirit of our communities, connecting with those struggling to overcome barriers and helping people get on the path toward economic stability,” said Bansree Parikh, president, Bank of America Inland Empire. “It’s important that we direct not only capital, but the necessary resources and training to help position these nonprofits and their leadership for long-term success.”

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Coachella Valley needs about 14,700 more affordable housing units than it currently has. With rents spiking in most valley cities, and wages stagnating, the need is still growing. Lift to Rise’s mission is addressing the root causes of housing unaffordability and economic instability in the Coachella Valley through working with community leaders, local residents, and partner organizations to create long-term, collaborative solutions, including a dynamic investment vehicle that will leverage public and private resources to advance 10,000 units of community-prioritized affordable housing by 2028. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Lift to Rise responded to the moment and joined with local partners to provide emergency rental assistance, with a focus on making sure hard-to-reach populations had equity access to support. This new grant will help Lift to Rise return to long-term, sustainable housing affordability and economic opportunity following two years of emergency responses to COVID-19 needs.

“Our organization is in a critical growth period as we continue to serve the current needs while staying focused on our goal of reducing rent burden by radically increasing the amount of affordable housing in our communities,” said Heather Vaikona, CEO, Lift to Rise. “The Neighborhood Builders grant will inject meaningful support across our leadership team and to our associated networks during this critical transition.”

As the economy begins to rebound from the pandemic, unfortunately the jobless rate for individuals with a disability is about twice as high as the rate for those without a disability. For more than 70 years, OPARC has provided life-enhancing services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and serves more than 800 adults with I/DD in Southern California by offering critical employment and developmental programs. OPARC will use the grant to help build Phase One of the OPARC Academy Workforce Development Center and EXPLORE program to provide vocational exploration and training for persons with disabilities, to expand programs to provide Autism Services at OPARC’s Montclair location, and leadership training focused on developing current and new staff.

“It is an exciting time for OPARC as we embark on a number of program enhancements which will enable us to serve our program participants at a higher level,” said Stacey Proctor, President and CEO, OPARC. “Job training and placement is a critical element to the lives and goals of the people we serve. The support we are receiving from Bank of America allows us to enhance these programs, which give our participants self-esteem and pride, and allow them to spend their own money and be contributing members of our communities.”

Since 2004, through the Neighborhood Builders program Bank of America has invested more than $300 million in 92 communities across the nation, partnered with more than 1,500 nonprofits, and helped 3,000 nonprofit leaders strengthen their leadership skills. This invitation-only program is highly competitive, and organizations are selected by a committee comprised of community leaders and past Neighborhood Builders honorees.

Neighborhood Builders is just one example of how Bank of America deploys capital in communities, builds cross-sector partnerships, and promotes socioeconomic progress as part of its approach to responsible growth.



Image Sources

  • Bank of America: Twitter
  • Affordable housing: Pexels