Bank of America Names Live & Learn a Recipient of 2021 Neighborhood Builders®

Program Provides $200,000 in Flexible Funding and Leadership Development Training to Advance Economic Mobility in Phoenix 

PHOENIXLive & Learn and Fresh Start Women’s Foundation have been named as the 2021 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders® awardees for their work in the Phoenix community addressing local issues around women’s personal and financial empowerment.

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“As communities continue to recover and navigate a changing landscape, nonprofits are still experiencing significant demands and need resources to help meet critical local needs like supporting women experiencing poverty as they claim and create greater self-sufficiency,” said Benito Almanza, president, Bank of America Arizona. “Live & Learn and Fresh Start Women’s Foundation are helping bridge important gaps for women by helping them chart a path towards economic opportunity and stability. Programs like Neighborhood Builders helps these organizations grow sustainably and strategically for greater positive impact in the community.”

As a Neighborhood Builder, each organization receives a $200,000 grant over two years to expand their impact; comprehensive leadership training for the 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 network of peer organizations across the U.S. The program continues to be the nation’s largest investment into nonprofit leadership development. 

Live & Learn’s emerging leader is Iris Ortega, Community Engagement Manager. Iris began her journey with Live & Learn as a client in 2012. After completing her Bachelor’s degree and Certificate in Nonprofit Leadership at Arizona State University, Iris joined Live & Learn as a Client Coordinator. In January 2021, Iris was promoted to Community Engagement Manager, a role in which she thrives.

Live & Learn is a community-based organization that empowers Maricopa County women to break the cycle of generational poverty. The organization works with women whose entire lives have been shaped by poverty, homelessness, and violence, offering them an effective pathway to stability, a career, and long-term economic self-sufficiency. With a unique, two-year program that is highly individualized to each woman, this small-but-mighty organization helps over 150 women each year end their dependence on government assistance. Yet, three times as many women are on Live & Learn’s waitlist. The Neighborhood Builders funding will allow Live & Learn to expand to meet community demand while building sustainability.

“At Live & Learn, we believe that generational poverty is an issue of social and economic injustice that demands a sustainable solution, not a temporary band aid,” says Kristin Chatsworth, Executive Director of Live & Learn. “Women living in poverty face complicated, systemic barriers to changing their circumstances and giving their children a better future. If we do not offer a viable opportunity for economic mobility, poverty only becomes more entrenched with each generation.

“This support from Bank of America is transformational for us. Live & Learn started in 2012, and it is a unique program that was developed by and for women experiencing poverty right here in the Phoenix area. Over the past decade at Live & Learn, women have been changing the future for themselves, their families, and the community. Bank of America’s funding will allow us to add to our staff, empower more women, and increase broader community awareness of the issues.” 

Since 2004, Bank of America has invested over $280 million in 50 communities through Neighborhood Builders, partnering with more than 1,400 nonprofits and helping more than 2,800 nonprofit leaders strengthen their leadership skills. Here in Phoenix, 36 nonprofits have been selected as a Neighborhood Builder, with the bank investing $6.8 million into these local organizations through the program since 2003.

The invitation-only program is highly competitive, and leading members of the community participated in a collaborative selection process to identify this year’s awardees. 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.

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