Banking program coming to Santa Monica College

This article was published in the Santa Monica Daily Press, February 2016

Santa Monica College is joining forces with an area nonprofit to offer a career-focused training series through its extension program. Campus officials are working with JVSLA to bring the organization’s existing BankWork$ program to the local community college by May.

The 8-week program, one of several job training and workforce development initiatives orchestrated by JVSLA in Southern California, aims to promote upward economic mobility by preparing low-income people for jobs in the banking industry. That goal made the program a natural fit for SMC, said Michelle King, the school’s director of career and contract education.

“It’s part of the mission to help build and prepare the local workforce,” King said, adding that the college is always looking for new partners for its extension courses. “That’s part of what we’re doing. It’s an opportunity to work with an organization that has a curriculum built, and they have a history of success. It makes sense. We have a shared goal here.”

For JVSLA, the partnership advances its goal of helping adults from traditionally underserved communities pursue careers with good pay and growth opportunities. Earlier this month, the organization held a graduation for its 58th BankWork$ training class at the EXPO Center in Los Angeles. BankWork$ has been successful, associate director Lisa Meadows said, because the 1,000-plus trainees who have gone through the program are introduced to potential employers and recruiters. More than 800 of them have been placed in jobs with help from JVSLA.

“We’re really excited about getting on the Westside more,” Meadows said. “We have a class in L.A. near Downtown, and we want to address the Westside too because there are a lot of bank openings.” The partnership came about after officials from SMC’s Community Education department reached out to the nonprofit, which was founded during the Great Depression and which now has more than 30 training and counseling centers across the region.The program resonated with King, who was a vice president of financial management for Union Bank of California before taking a leadership position at SMC.

“She was super excited about getting this kind of program at Santa Monica College to reach more people who would like to pursue careers in banking,” Meadows said. “It’s wonderful because it helps people achieve self-sufficiency and get full-time positions.”

Thanks to support from banks and charitable foundations, JVSLA is able to offer the 8-week program for free. At the local community college, it will be available to students who are actively pursuing degrees, as well as people in the community. Prospective candidates who apply for the BankWork$ program must be at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or GED certification, speak and write English and have basic computer skills.

“We’re hoping for the non-students that we’re able to introduce them to the college and that they would consider returning to the college as they seek to advance their career and develop their skills,” King said.

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