Bank of America Connects Charleston and Myrtle Beach-Area Youth to Workforce Success Through Paid Virtual Summer Leadership Experience

Staff Report

Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

Bank of America today announced that the four Coastal South Carolina high school students selected as Student Leaders (#BofAStudentLeaders) have started their paid summer internship experience of leadership, civic engagement, and workforce skills-building.  In light of the health concerns that remain in local communities, the program has been adapted to a virtual format, through which students had the opportunity to participate in sessions exposing them to the vital role that nonprofits play in advancing community health, the importance of public private partnerships to advance social change, and a focus on building financial acumen.  

The Class of 2020 Coastal South Carolina Bank of America Student Leaders are:

  • Caelan Bailey, Wando, Academic Magnet High School

  • Isabela Cawley, Mount Pleasant, Charleston County School of the Arts

  • Claire Hains, Conway, Horry County Schools Scholars Academy

  • Caroline Morgan, Murrells Inlet, Horry County Schools Scholars Academy

Coastal South Carolina Student Leaders participated in programming that leverages Bank of America’s national partnerships and expertise and worked closely with the bank’s Charleston and Myrtle Beach leadership and nonprofit partners. They enjoyed a collaborative, mentoring-focused project working closely with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lowcountry to work on social media strategies and in the creation of a story bank tool designed to collect stories and anecdotes from Big Brothers Big Sisters participants.  In addition, Student Leaders engaged in conversations focused on social justice, civil rights and how to build a more diverse and inclusive society and had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of their personal finances through Better Money Habits®, Bank of America’s financial wellness and education platform.   

“As we build our new organization, inspiring our community to get involved is key.  Whether we are recruiting men and mentors of colors to become mentors, or we are inspiring caring neighbors to invest in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Lowcountry mission, telling our story is critical,” explains the organization’s president and chief executive officer, Merridith Crowe.  “We are so grateful to Bank of America and its young leader volunteers.  Their project to collect best practice examples and create a library of resources for our work moving forward is such a gift, especially since we are a small, but mighty staff.”

Bringing students from across the country together in order to discuss the role of citizenship and how cross sector collaboration creates community impact is a core component of the Student Leaders program.  This year, 300 students will gather virtually for the Young America Together at Home program, delivered by the Close Up Foundation, which will include discussion of finding one’s voice in order to effect change and pressing policy issues such as the economy, healthcare, the environment and immigration.

“Now more than ever, as we collectively navigate the challenges we face in our communities, we remain committed to supporting youth and young adults of all backgrounds by connecting them to jobs, skills-building and leadership development,” said Kim Wilkerson, Bank of America’s South Carolina State President. “Creating opportunities for our youth to gain skills and build a network is a powerful investment in the future of our community.” 

In the wake of significant job losses nationwide, the ability to earn a paycheck will be essential to many young people whether they are helping to support their families or planning for the future. As part of their Student Leader experience, each student received a $5,000 stipend to recognize them for their community achievements.

Recent estimates suggest that the number of disconnected youth – those who aren’t in school and don’t have a job – has likely tripled since last year and could be as high as 18 million. Without access to opportunities that build career skills, many young people may be left behind, leading to high rates of youth unemployment and hindering overall economic progress. In addition to Student Leaders, the bank invests in summer jobs for young people through its partnerships with Boys and Girls Club of the Grand Strand as well as Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s job shadow program through which high school students gain valuable workforce skills. This summer, Bank of America is connecting approximately 3,000 young adults to summer jobs through partnerships with nonprofits and local mayors and its own Student Leaders® program.