West Michigan Hispanic Chamber named a 2021 Neighborhood Champion

Read the Spanish version of this story in El Vocero.

Bank of America has selected the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (WMHCC) as a 2021 Neighborhood Champion, a recognition that includes both grant funding and executive leadership development. 

As part of the program, the WMHCC will receive a $50,000, two-year grant and an opportunity for engagement in executive leadership coaching delivered by national experts in the nonprofit sector on topics such as human capital management, increasing financial sustainability, and strategic storytelling.  

“We are tremendously grateful for the ongoing support and meaningful partnership with Bank of America,” says WMHCC President & CEO Guillermo Cisneros. “The pandemic has already created numerous challenges for small businesses, which is only further complicated by the inequities that are oftentimes experienced by minority entrepreneurs. The wonderful grant support, including valuable leadership training afforded through the Neighborhood Champion program, will allow us to further assist in the professional growth and economic advancement of Hispanic-owned businesses and leaders in our community.” 

Strengthen leadership skills

In 2019, in order to scale funding and expertise to more communities, the bank introduced the Neighborhood Champions program, which supports the role strong nonprofit leaders play in advancing economic mobility. While the Neighborhood Builders program is designed to support 100 major and metro markets, Neighborhood Champions was established to support 42 suburban markets and smaller communities across the United States. 

The Neighborhood Champions program is invitation-only for nonprofits that are poised to take their work to the next level. Leading members of the community participated in a collaborative selection process to identify this year’s award recipient. 

Since 2004, through its Neighborhood Builders and Neighborhood Champions programs, Bank of America has invested more than $285 million in 92 communities across the country, partnered with more than 1,400 nonprofits, and helped more than 2,800 nonprofit leaders strengthen their leadership skills.

“Bank of America strives to help local economies prosper by supporting business ownership to create sustainable, financially healthy, and diverse communities,” says Renee Tabben, president at Bank of America Grand Rapids. “The West Michigan Hispanic Chamber has provided critical leadership in our community, helping businesses, individuals, and families create a path toward economic opportunity and stability. We are excited to name them a Neighborhood Champion and provide additional grants to support Latinx college students and give Hispanic small businesses many of the tools they need to succeed.”

Latino talent pipeline

In addition, the bank has awarded WMHCC a $100,000 grant to further advance economic opportunity for Hispanic-owned small businesses that will enable them to develop a strong Latino talent pipeline and create employment opportunities. 

Funding will be in support of two key initiatives that include Transformando West Michigan and Building Bridges through Education (BBTE). 

Transformando is a business training program that aims to help business owners achieve a new level of financial mobility, prosperity, and stability. It provides small-business owners with resources, educational programs, and networking opportunities to help them grow their business. 

BBTE, a 2021 Examples of Excelencia finalist, helps prepare and connect high-potential Latinx college students with the tools and opportunities to reach their career goals. It also educates and encourages businesses to invest in their community by creating jobs and internship opportunities.

Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.