Nov. 4, 2015 – JVS Los Angeles BankWork$®, the award-winning career training and placement program that prepares low-income adults from traditionally underserved communities for careers in the financial services industry, graduated its 1,000th trainee in a milestone ceremony held Nov. 4 at the Los Angeles EXPO Center.
The 25 trainees from the 57th and 58th classes, many of whom completed the eight-week intensive course despite personal obstacles and even long commutes from as far as Hesperia and the Inland Empire, were given a special directive from JVS Los Angeles, which launched the program in 2006.
“Pay it forward; help us help others,” said JVS COO Claudia Finkel. “Reach back and take care of students coming after you. It takes a community to make this program successful.” “There’s a high demand in banking for talented people such as yourselves,” said Les Biller, former Vice Chairman and COO of Wells Fargo Bank, who founded the program with JVSLA.
JVSLA BankWork$ graduated its first class in 2006 with ten pioneering students willing to take a risk on the new, yet untried program. The program is available at no cost to participants, but applicants must be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, speak and write English, have basic computer skills and have no adult felony convictions, amongst other eligibility requirements.
”What distinguishes BankWork$ from other vocational training programs,” stated Jay Soloway, JVSLA’s Director of Training and Education, “is the high level of engagement JVSLA has developed with our employer partners. As a result, we are able to connect our graduates directly with all the major banks in the Los Angeles area, who are eager to fill their open positions with our highly qualified candidates.”
Since the inception of the program, JVS has placed nearly 800 individuals in Los Angeles area banking jobs. The program boasts a consistent placement rate of nearly 85 percent. In the audience filled with supportive family and friends, sat bank recruiters taking note of each graduate’s personal and career assets as they were lauded during the presentation of their certificates of completion. Most have sales and/or cash handling experience from food service and retail jobs that include Macy’s, Goodwill, Party City, 99 Cents Only Stores, Costco, and Jack in the Box. Many are bilingual and some have attended college.
Alumni speaker Dominique Satterwhite scheduled himself for the night shift at his job in a juice bar while he was in the BankWork$ program. “I had always worked hard to be successful, but I just couldn’t find the opportunities to help me realize my professional dreams,” he told the audience. “I was hired as a teller at Bank of America within two weeks of my graduation in 2013 and was then promoted to personal banker. I couldn't have asked for a better or more effective preparation for my new career.”
Immediately following the graduation, recruiters from partnering banks met with students in an on-site job fair.
“I have been coming since the first graduation,” said Tracie Peddy, a Bank of America recruiter. “I have not missed a single one. These students are driven, successful and have often overcome serious obstacles. We leave here having made real offers…for positions that include tellers, personal bankers and call center representatives.”
BankWork$ powerfully demonstrates how public-private partnerships can successfully bridge the skills gap by partnering with employers to prepare job seekers for positions businesses need to fill. The program is funded by local banks, foundations, private donors, and the State of California, and partners closely with the WorkSource Center network, and Employment Development Department.
Because BankWork$ offers a highly replicable model for transitioning people to high wage, high growth jobs, Les Biller is launching the program nationally, with the program up and running or soon to launch in cities that include Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Phoenix, Chicago, Denver and Houston. For Biller, the success is measured not in how many graduates complete the BankWork$ program, but rather in how many land jobs. As the program rolls out nationally, he sees exponential growth in the number of economically challenged job seekers who can take their first step on a career ladder that offers extraordinary potential.
“JVS Los Angeles has set a high standard so that these students are actually getting jobs and launching long term careers. This model will prove to benefit other cities as we expand,” he said.
About JVSLA BankWork$®
Founded in 2006, BankWork$ partners include Banc of California, Bank of America, Chase, City National Bank, Comerica, the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks/EXPO Center, Continental Currency Services, East West Bank, the Marcled Foundation, the Michael & Irene Ross Endowment Fund, OneWest Bank, Pacific Western Bank, the Jay & Rose Phillips Family Foundation of California, the Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, the State of California Employment Training Panel, the State of California Employment Development Department, Union Bank, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.
In 2013, JVS BankWork$ won the Project Collaboration Award at the Los Angeles Business Journal (LABJ) Nonprofit and Corporate Citizenship Awards, recognizing, “a project that encompasses involvement of multiple stakeholders in the community, engagement of the community being served, and innovation in approaching a community problem or issue.”
Serving the widely diverse Southern California community, nonprofit JVS Los Angeles helps individuals overcome barriers to employment so they can become self-sufficient. The agency’s goal is to provide individuals with the tools, resources and support they need through job training, mentoring, expert career coaching, job placement and retention support. Leaders in the workforce development field and advocates for the underserved, JVSLA was founded in 1931 to fight workplace discrimination. JVS Los Angeles assists nearly 30,000 individuals each year. To learn more, visit www.jvsla.org
December 4, 2015