Working Alums Salute Latest BankWork$™ Graduating Class

August 23, 2013 – With a unique pair of program alumni cheering them on and assuring them that they too would be successful,  a new group of skilled and job-ready bank tellers met a roomful of recruiters Wednesday as JVS recognized the latest graduates of its award-winning BankWork$™ training program.

 Established in 2006, the eight-week BankWork$™ program trains individuals, ages 18 years old and older, for positions in retail banking as a first step on the career ladder in the financial services industry. In addition to training, the program includes job placement assistance and ongoing coaching for career advancement.

The 30 graduates of the eight-week training program included immigrants from Kyrgyzstan and South Africa, several single mothers, a woman who is trying to help herself and her brother emerge from the foster care system and young men and women who have previously worked in such places as Burger King, Panera Bakery, the 99 Cent Store and Subway.

At Wednesday’s graduation, held at Los Angeles EXPO Center, past program graduates Khai Edwards and Jasmine Guzman both assured the new group of graduates that the training program had prepared them for successful futures.

“I moved to California because this state has one of the leading financial markets in the country and once I did this program, that was all she wrote,” said Edwards who researched BankWork$™ when he was living in Charlotte, North Carolina. “Everything they’re telling you is how it’s going to be.”

Edwards, who graduated BankWork$™ in August of 2012, said the program helped  him land a job at Citibank – one of the program’s multiple financial partners – and has laid the groundwork for advancement. He is currently studying for his notary certification and will receive tuition reimbursement through Citibank’s educational training program. He hopes to eventually become a financial analyst or investment banker.

“Everything (Program Manager) Lisa Meadows and her team said they would do, they have done. Everything they said would happen, has happened, and I’m so grateful for that,” says Edwards who had previously worked for Red Robin. “There may be other people (in the financial industry) who are more qualified than I am, but this program put me above the bar which was very helpful.”

Guzman, who has moved through more than 20 foster homes, said that the help of JVS and BankWork$™ and finding employment at US Bank has helped her reach an important place in her life. She has been working at her new job for more than a year and has progressed from being a peak hours teller to a position with more hours and increased responsibility.

“I come from a really broken background,” she said, “and to be able to build myself up has been awesome.”

Because BankWork$™ is free and includes a recruitment job fair with representatives from partnering banks immediately after graduation, the program has distinct advantages, Edwards and Guzman both noted.

“I have friends who are $15,000 in debt and they’re in fields where you really can’t grow,” said Guzman. “With this training, you can actually build a career. Plus the program teaches life lessons. It’s wonderful.”

All of the newest BankWork$™ graduates, program administrators insisted, will be assets to whatever banks or financial institutions are savvy enough to hire them.

Addressing the audience of graduating students and their families, JVS COOClaudia Finkel said, “This is the first step in creating your future. Now each of you is part of the BankWork$™ legacy.”

JVS graduates enjoy an 81% placement rate and an 86% retention rate after six months on the job. The program recently received the Corporate Partnership Award at the 2013 Los Angeles Business Journal nonprofit and Corporate Citizenship Awards.

Getting through the program is no small achievement. Program Manager Lisa Meadows and her team hold trainees to rigorous standards of attendance, professionalism and preparation.

After receiving their certificates of completion, the 30 graduates interviewed with recruiters from BankWork$™ partnering financial institutions including Bank of America, Citibank, City National Bank, Continental Currency, Pacific Western Bank, US Bank, Union Bank, Wells Fargo, First Entertainment Credit Union and Cathay Bank. Additional partners include the Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, the State of California Employment Training Panel and Friends of EXPO Center.

JVS is currently recruiting students for its upcoming BankWork$™ training sessions at The Expo Center near downtown LA. The program is free, but applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, speak and write English, have basic computer skills and have no adult felony convictions.

To request an application or for more information, contact Lisa Meadows at (310) 273-6633, ext. 241 or visit www.jvsla.org/bankworks.