It’s widely heralded that Texas is a great state to do business in, with companies announcing plans to relocate or open offices across the state. As this economic growth continues, we must do all we can to build a highly skilled workforce and strong local talent pool from which businesses can hire – and importantly, make sure we aren’t leaving populations behind while doing so.
Access to good jobs and meaningful careers is key to closing the racial wealth gap. A meaningful job opportunity goes beyond the paycheck – it’s a pathway to reduce student debt, obtain health care and retirement benefits and ultimately build net worth, yet students from Black and Hispanic-Latino communities often continue to face obstacles ranging from financial hardship to lack of guidance in choosing courses that will help them achieve success.
At a recent Texas Tribune event sponsored by Bank of America, “Serving Hispanic Students in Texas,” panelists discussed why Hispanic students finish higher education programs at a lower rate than the state average. Less than 20% of Hispanic and Black students in our state complete some form of higher education, compared to 31% of white students.
Connecting people to meaningful education requires deep public and private partnerships and collective expertise to prepare individuals for jobs that exist in our communities. Our team at Bank of America is committed to doing our part to help prepare individuals for success in the workforce and fuel economic opportunity.
That's why we're partnering with other employers and local organizations across the state to help people attain the education and develop the skills they need to be successful in the high-demand careers of today and the future. Our efforts across the country include a $25 million investment in 21 higher education institutions, including Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and community colleges. Bank of America also works with the Aspen Institute to convene best practices and ensure educational tracks align with the needs of employers while incenting and preparing students for successful careers.
The bank has partnered with education institutions throughout Texas in a variety of ways, including Huston-Tillotson, St. Edward’s University, The University of Texas, Prairie View A&M, Texas Southern University, Alamo Colleges, Dallas College-El Centro campus, Texas Christian University, University of Texas at Arlington and University of North Texas, as well as Texas Tech University both in Amarillo and El Paso to break down barriers to higher education, fuel entrepreneurship and create more opportunities for communities of color.
Presently only about 3% of physicians and 2% of registered nurses are Hispanic-Latino. Through a new initiative called Progresando, a partnership with education firm EAB, the bank will increase Hispanic-Latino representation, including in South Texas, in health careers and address the shortage of culturally sensitive, Spanish-speaking health providers, including physician’s assistants, dental hygienists, psychologists, pharmacists and more. Each participating education institution will receive $250,000 from Bank of America as well as student support services.
Since 2017, the bank has provided more than $64 million in grant funding across Texas to advance economic mobility and address the most pressing issues facing our state, including funding education and workforce development.
This includes support of the Texas Tech University School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo to address the region’s shortage of veterinary resources with a focus on admitting students from underserved communities, Dallas’ Medisend College of Biomedical Engineering Technology, which offers degrees in seven months and helps place graduates in health care jobs, El Paso Children’s Foundation and El Paso Children’s Hospital’s nurse internship program, Goodwill Industries of Central Texas’ Phlebotomy program, a grant to UH’s College of Medicine to train more primary care physicians from diverse backgrounds to practice in underserved areas and more.
Early employment programs are an additional important component to building Texas’ diverse workforce of the future. Bank of America has a long history of investing in youth development, including our Financial Center Apprenticeship program providing paid experience to students from underserved communities, our Student Leaders® program, which provides local high school students with paid nonprofit experience and our support of various city-led paid internship programs.
We also do not lose sight of the important role small businesses play in maintaining the essence and authenticity of our communities, which is why we support numerous minority-focused entrepreneurship programs and funds, including PeopleFund, DivInc and Impact Ventures, among others.
Investing deeply in our local workforce and collaborating with leading organizations and education institutions will strengthen the resiliency of our local economy and is the kind of work that truly changes lives. We challenge businesses across Texas to look at their hiring practices, training and development programs, and investments in the community through the lens of a long-term investment that will ultimately pay great dividends for all Texans. Together, we can help build a stronger pipeline of diverse talent, address the racial wealth gap and fuel local economic growth.