Bank of America announced today that it has directed more than $17 million to support Native American communities since the onset of the pandemic. Funding includes capital investments and philanthropic grants to nonprofits and institutions providing services to Indigenous communities as part of the bank’s effort to advance racial equality and economic opportunity through its $1.25 billion, five-year commitment.
“Through investments in Native American communities, we are working to connect Indigenous people to opportunities that will help them build stability and a more successful future,” said Andrew Plepler, global head of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), Bank of America. “We recognize that more needs to be done, and we continue to explore partnerships and expand our commitment to invest in Native American-owned small businesses, jobs development, and critical needs.”
In 2020, the company recognized the disproportionate impact of the health crisis and directed more than $13 million to Native American communities across the U.S., including $10 million in capital to Native American Bank, a community development financial institution (CDFI) providing funding for small businesses, affordable housing, community facilities, and consumer lending needs. The company also donated personal protection equipment (PPE) including over 1 million masks, 222,000 gloves, and hand sanitizer to Native American communities.
Today, in observance of Native American Heritage Month, the company announced an additional $4.7 million in funding to support nonprofit partners working to address critical needs in Native American communities. This includes philanthropic grants to 39 nonprofits and institutions providing critical services to Indigenous communities.
Investments entail $3.3 million in grants to national and local nonprofits focused on meeting health, hunger, workforce development, small business and entrepreneurship needs in Native American communities. Many of Bank of America’s longstanding partners that address needs related to housing and community revitalization have also received funding, including First Nations Development Institute, the National Congress of American Indians, the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC), and First Nations Oweesta.
Bank of America is also expanding its partnership with the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) and education company EAB to support student success, financial sustainability, and ongoing institutional transformation at 37 tribal colleges and universities. Lastly, the company is launching a $1 million, four-year partnership with Water First in Canada to support access to clean drinking water in Indigenous communities, which includes training young Indigenous adults for a career in water science.
Additional organizations receiving 2021 grant funding include: American Indian College Fund; Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation; Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma; Community Outreach & Patient Empowerment (COPE); Native American Connections; New Mexico Foundation; Our Native America Business Entrepreneurship Network (ONABEN); Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma; United National Indian Tribal Youth Inc. (UNITY); and others.
Bank of America has provided critical financial services to Native American governments and territories for more than 60 years, and is equally committed to supporting its Native American employees. Founded in 2003, Bank of America’s Native American Professional Network (NAPN) aids in the recruitment, retention and career development of Native Americans, Alaskan Natives and Hawaiian Natives at Bank of America, growing membership more than 80% in the past five years. Members actively promote financial education in Native American territories and communities, help raise awareness of Native business opportunities and cultural issues, and support Bank of America’s business strategy of enlarging its profile in Native American communities.