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Bank of America donates $750,000 to Charlotte nonprofits

By Elisabeth Arriero
earriero@charlotteobserver.com

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation announced this week that it would be awarding $750,000 in grants to eleven nonprofits in Charlotte.

The nonprofits all address critical needs such as hunger and shelter, as well as longer-term solutions that promote access to benefits and resources.

As part of the grants that Bank of America Charitable Foundation awarded, Urban Ministry Center and Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina were identified as recipients of the 2013 Neighborhood Builders award. They will both receive a $200,000 unrestricted grant as well as leadership training.

“They’ll have the opportunity to learn how other people are doing it and learn their own skills,” said Charles Bowman, North Carolina and Charlotte market president for Bank of America. “It really leverages their opportunities to do even more.”

It was the second time that Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina received the award.

“The first time we got it, we were amazed and thrilled because there are so many good nonprofits in Charlotte,” Kay Carter, executive director of Second Harvest Food Bank, said. “Then to come back and get it again… I’m just so grateful to the bank that they have that level of confidence in our organization and they think we can take these funds and make a positive impact on the community.”

When it received the award in 2008, Second Harvest used it for critical needs, primarily purchasing food, said Carter.

But this year, Carter said the organization plans to use the money to purchase a warehouse inventory management and scanning system.

The new system will allow Second Harvest to track its inventory in real time at its main warehouse and four other branches.

“So instead of counting things off by hand, we would have a bar code system that would count for us, which would make us less prone to error,” said Carter.

The technology will streamline the process of collecting and distributing food and household items to 19 counties in North and South Carolina.

In the region, more than 500,000 people live in poverty and face food insecurity, including 220,000 children, according to The Bank of America Charitable Foundation. Nationally, one in six Americans are at risk for hunger.

Meanwhile, the Urban Ministry Center plans to use the funds to build upon its “Housing First” model and outreach programming to provide stability for the chronically homeless.

“The nights are becoming longer and colder for Charlotte’s homeless community so this grant will make an immediate and long-term impact for those in desperate need of basic necessities, such as food and shelter,” Dale Mullennix, executive director of Urban Ministry Center, said in a statement.

Through the Neighborhood Builders program, now in its tenth year, Bank of America has invested $160 million in 800 nonprofit organizations and provided training to 1,600 nonprofit leaders.

In addition to recognizing Urban Ministry Center and Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina as Neighborhood Builders, Bank of America provided them and nine other Charlotte-based nonprofits with grants to address critical needs.

The nine other critical need grants recipients were Ada Jenkins Families and Careers Development Center, Charlotte Family Housing, Crisis Assistance Ministry, Hope Haven Inc., Operation Homefront, the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, Safe Alliance (United Family Services), The Salvation Army and Young Women’s Christian Association of the Central Carolinas.

On Tuesday, Bank of America volunteers, as well as Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams, helped Second Harvest Food Bank distribute food.

The participants helped sort and distribute food, bag fresh produce and assist in selecting holiday staples for an estimated 200 families with children who attend Walter G. Byers Elementary School and live in the surrounding area.

Arriero: 704-358-5945; Twitter: @earriero
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