• June 22nd, 2024
  • Saturday, 10:22:20 PM

Student Leaders Program Advances Economic Mobility Through Summer Youth Employment

Photo: DepositPhotos When school lets out for the winter holidays, children get a break from homework, but for families struggling to pay bills and put food on the table, it's no vacation.

Bank of America announced this week that five high school juniors and seniors from the Phoenix metro area have been selected as Student Leaders (#BofAStudentLeaders). Part of the company’s three-year $40 million commitment to connect youth and young adults to skills, training and jobs, the program offers young people, who are engaged community citizens, an opportunity to build their workforce and leadership skills through a paid summer internship at a local nonprofit and participation in a national leadership summit in Washington, D.C.

Today, there are more than 5 million young people nationally who are not working or in school and by 2020, more than 60% of jobs will require more than a high school diploma due to ongoing rapid changes in technology and innovation. In Arizona, according to the 2017 Measure of America report, 125,500 young people between 16 and 24 are not working or in school while in Phoenix, the number is 73,700, a decline from a high of nearly 100,000 in 2010.

When young people can’t access early employment opportunities that build their skills, they are at risk of being left behind and not finding a meaningful job that puts them on a path to success. Through Student Leaders, Bank of America enables young people to develop workforce and leadership skills, such as advancing diversity and inclusion, developing a greater understanding of the value of cross-sector partnerships, and establishing a professional network, that can lead to future career success and in turn help the economic progress of the Valley of the Sun.

“Through Student Leaders, we’re building pathways to success for young adults in the region and giving voice to the next generation, who will help develop a more diverse and inclusive society,” said Bank of America Arizona Market President Benito Almanza. “By engaging young people in meaningful and relevant work experiences such as building a resume and managing a paycheck, we’re advancing economic mobility.”

The Phoenix market Student Leaders are:

  • Brandon H. Pasternak, a Phoenix resident, and a junior at Pinnacle High School, is interning at The Boys & Girls Club, Vestar Branch in Phoenix.
  • Brianna Alexa Rangel, a Queen Creek resident and a recent graduate of Westwood High School, is interning at The Boys & Girls Club Queen Creek Branch.
  • Coleen Jillian A. Barcena, a Mesa resident, and a recent graduate of Westwood High School, is interning at The Boys & Girls Club’s Superstition Mountain Branch in Apache Junction.
  • Aimee Cheng, a Mesa resident and a junior at Tempe Preparatory Academy, is interning at The Boys & Girls Club Grant Woods Branch in Mesa.
  • Trey Emerson Leveque, a Gilbert resident and a recent graduate of Williams Field High School, is interning at The Boys & Girls Club Gilbert Branch.

These five young people joined more than 200 other Student Leaders from around the country in Washington D.C. from July 9-14 for Bank of America’s Student Leadership Summit. As part of this weeklong convening, students build advocacy and inclusive leadership skills, meet with Members of Congress and participate in a service learning project. They become part of a network of community leaders that will support their ongoing citizenship and engagement. There are 64 student alumni from the Valley and nearly 3,000 Student Leaders across the country have gained skills and workforce experience through the program since 2004.

The bank’s investments in youth employment in the Valley are part of its broader work this summer across the country, investing more than $3 million to connect nearly 2,000 young people, including at-risk teens, to summer jobs through partnerships with mayors across the country and its Student Leaders program.