Bank of America Names EMERGE Connecticut, Inc. and Regional Youth Adult Social Action Partnership 2021 Neighborhood Builders®

New Haven / Bridgeport, CT – Programs that bolster workforce development and help address the region’s issues around recidivism and opportunities for youth will be able to scale, helping even more people through a multi-year grant from Bank of America. EMERGE Connecticut, Inc. and Regional Youth Adult Social ActionPartnership (RYASAP) have been named as the 2021 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders® awardees for their work in connecting New Haven and Bridgeport communities to long-term careers.  

As Neighborhood Builders, each organization receives a $200,000 grant over two years, comprehensive leadership training for the executive director and an emerging leader on topics ranging from increasing financial sustainability, human capital management and strategic storytelling. This program continues to be the nation’s largest investment in nonprofit leadership development.

“Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders program is a demonstration of our commitment to responsible growth and advancing economic empowerment in the regions we serve,” said Bill Tommins, President, Bank of America Southern Connecticut. “EMERGE Connecticut and RYASAP are leading the charge in addressing issues related to economic mobility for individuals and families. This investment will help these organizations grow sustainably and strategically for greater positive impact in the community.”

Founded ten years ago, EMERGE Connecticut is the only nonprofit in the state that provides occupational skills and job search training, interview preparation, and post-job placement services to people returning home from incarceration. With the accelerating health crisis, EMERGE is experiencing a unique and increased demand for services due to the record number of incarcerated people being released back into the community. Bank of America's Neighborhood Builders award comes at a pivotal time for EMERGE. It will enable the organization's expansion to assist up to 40 additional individuals in New Haven and expand their services to Hartford over the next five years.

“At EMERGE, we support people as they invest in themselves. We sincerely believe in human beings, and for over a decade we’ve worked to facilitate a culture of forgiveness, authenticity, accountability, and love.  We are always seeking new ways to build upon our support system for the individuals we currently help and our alumni,” said Alden Woodcock, Executive Director, EMERGE Connecticut. “With the influx of individuals re-entering the community, especially during a health crisis, there is a whole new level of care that we need to provide to the people in our program. To us, Neighborhood Builders does for nonprofits what EMERGE strives to do for individuals returning home from incarceration: truly support them as they execute their vision of growth.  Not only will the Neighborhood Builders funding help us grow the impact on their economic mobility, but it will also enable us to expand our resources and operations in Connecticut.”

The Regional Youth Adult Social Action Partnership is a recognized community leader in Bridgeport and is best known for its dedication to elevating community voice and participation in its approach to problem-solving. Earlier this year, RYASAP was selected by the renowned social policy research organization, MDRC, to build out their Park City Career Pathways initiative with the Bridgeport Public Schools, Housatonic Community College, Career Resources, and the Bridgeport Public Education Fund. Now, as Bank of America’s 2021 Neighborhood Builders recipient, RYASAP can use its funding to connect 350 Bridgeport high school graduates to higher education and career and employment opportunities through the Park City Career Pathways program.

“Here in Bridgeport, over 20,000 youth face severe economic hardships and a myriad of barriers to advancing their education and careers,” said Marc Donald, Executive Director. “Not only is our Park City Career Pathways program connecting young adults to academic opportunities, but it is also steering them towards long-term careers through our community partners. We are honored to receive Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders award this year and are grateful for their commitment to serving our youth.”

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 Southern Connecticut, 23 nonprofits have been selected as a Neighborhood Builder, with the bank investing nearly $5 million into these local organizations through the program since 2004.  

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.