Tennessee State University and Bank of America recently announced a new $1 million jobs initiative partnership to help students of color successfully complete the education and training necessary to enter the workforce and embark on a path to success in Nashville.

The initiative builds on Bank of America’s ongoing work in Nashville to address the underlying issues facing people and communities of color who were disproportionately impacted by the current health crisis.

“As business leaders in this community, we see it as our responsibility to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to climb the economic ladder,” said Tyson Moore, Bank of America Nashville market president. “We know the best way to empower students is through education. We are excited about this partnership with TSU to equip all students, and particularly students of color, with the skills they need to get great jobs.”

This year, the bank provided more than $2 million in grants to nonprofits that are connecting people to skills and employment in Nashville. The initiative is part of the bank’s recent $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, and its $25 million commitment to enhance up-skilling and reskilling for Black-African-American and Hispanic-Latino people.

Including Tennessee State University, the $25 million nationwide initiative includes partnerships with nearly two-dozen community colleges that serve predominantly Black-African American and Hispanic-Latino students, public Historically Black Colleges and Universities and public Hispanic-Serving Institutions. Bank of America is also partnering with and providing funding to the Aspen Institute to convene the participating higher education institutions for technical and programmatic assistance and to share best practices.

For students of color, graduation and completion rates are particularly low – with 21% of first-time, full-time freshman at four-year institutions graduating within four years. Although HBCUs and HSIs are a mix of public and private institutions, the ongoing challenges brought on by the novel coronavirus exacerbated their financial struggle as they seek to serve students from the most vulnerable communities. Despite the pandemic, TSU had an increase in enrollment during the fall.

“Tennessee State University is excited to be partnering with Bank of America, and for the $1 million contribution to help our students complete their degrees and secure meaningful employment opportunities in a global workforce, specifically here in Nashville, a city that has become a global leader in the health care, technology entertainment and hospitality industries,” said TSU president Glenda Glover. “At TSU, we strive for excellence, and this initiative will allow us to instill that mindset in students for generations to come, as we continue their professional development to be future leaders.”

With the support from Bank of America, TSU will develop and enhance existing programs to meet specific skills gaps to create higher-paying, family-sustaining jobs that are in demand. Bank of America will work alongside Asurion in Nashville to ensure the programs target-specific hiring needs and create a clearly defined career pathway to future employment.

“Asurion has put a priority on building a diverse talent pipeline to help bridge the tech talent gap locally with an eye toward long-term growth,” said Rick Martin, advisory board member with Asurion’s Black employees supporting talent employee resource group. “We look forward to collaborating with Bank of America to help define and create pathways to employment for Middle Tennessee students of color after they graduate.”

“I want to thank Bank of America for their philanthropic support for one of our most cherished institutions. Tennessee State University has a long, distinguished history in Nashville, and it is an irreplaceable part of our community,” said Nashville Mayor John Cooper. “TSU is a key partner in helping us develop the type of high-tech workforce that our economy demands, so I’m grateful for opportunities like these to invest in our students’ success.”

Focused on advancing economic mobility, Bank of America also recently announced:

• seven completed equity investments in minority depository institutions and community development financial institution banks.

• $2 billion equality progress sustainability bond.

• universal ESG reporting; international business council of world economic forum.

• recognition as top global bank on Fortune’s “Change the World” list.

• $300 million of its $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity.

• support of Boys & Girls Clubs of America with a $1 million grant to support educational programs.

• $1 billion, four-year commitment to support economic opportunity initiatives.

• $250 million in capital and $10 million in philanthropic grants to community development financial institutions.

Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a premier, historically black university and land-grant institution that offers 39 bachelor’s degree programs, 24 master’s degree programs and seven doctoral degrees. TSU is a comprehensive research-intensive institution with a R-2 Carnegie designation and has a graduate school on its downtown Avon Williams Campus, along with the Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville. Visit the university online at tnstate.edu.

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