Among the 15 graduates from the second BankWork$ class preparing for careers in the financial industry were a single parent, a foster parent and an individual who was being evicted while the 8-week, 168-hour class was going on.

Eight of the 15 graduates are working or will start this month at banks including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Alliance Bank, MidFirst Bank, Western Alliance Bank, Comerica Bank and AmTrust Bank.  Since the program – a partnership between BankWork$, local banking partners and Arizona Women’s Education & Employment (AWEE) – began, 28 women and men accepted into the program have graduated and 19 have landed jobs.

“BankWork$ requires commitment and focus and when you factor in some of the challenges students face in their personal lives, graduation is an incredible achievement,” said AWEE President and CEO Marie Sullivan.  “In financial terms, the bottom line for them and for us is a new beginning in a career-driven industry with incredible upsides.”

Graduates like Sarahi Lozano, whose only work experience before staying home to care for her three school-age children, was as a server more than 10 years ago. Born in Mexico and raised in Arizona, she never went to high school. Wanting what’s best for her kids, she earned a GED and found out about BankWork$ while volunteering at one of her children’s Head Start program.  A mother at 16, a victim of domestic abuse who lived with her three kids in a shelter, Sarahi is now working full-time as a Customer Service Representative at Bank of America.

“BankWork$ is an intensive program that prepares graduates to be able to start careers as tellers, customer service representatives or personal bankers in an industry with tremendous opportunities for growth,” said Sullivan. “Their sales and customer service training will put them on a career path that will mean financial stability for them and for their families.“

BankWork$ launched in 2006 in Los Angeles and currently places about 200 graduates each year. By 2019, BankWork$ will be operating in 15 or more cities nationwide. Its $4 million national expansion is funded by Bank of America, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, which have each pledged $1 million over five years to support the rollout, and by The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, which founded the program and has also pledged $1 million.

Since its launch, BankWork$ has successfully placed more than 800 graduates who were hired by banks and other financial institutions.

BankWork$ achieves a graduation rate of approximately 75 percent and is placing approximately 70 percent of graduates with partner banks each year. BankWork$ graduates also stay employed in their jobs: retention rates for 2012 BankWork$ graduates showed that 86 percent were employed six months after their hire date and 72 percent one year from their hire date.

BankWork$ classes are free for participants.

The classes run for eight weeks and provide training in the skills needed for jobs as tellers, customer service representatives and personal bankers. The course culminates in a graduation and job fair with local banking partners, giving graduates the opportunity to interview for jobs immediately.

BankWork$ also offers resume building, job interview practice, job placement assistance and ongoing coaching and mentoring to help with career advancement. Participants must be 18 years or older, have a high school diploma or GED, be fluent in written and spoken English, have basic computer skills and no adult felony convictions.

Start date for upcoming BankWork$ trainings at AWEE are July 20 and October 17.  For information and to apply, call (602) 223-4349 or visit