Bank of America gives $500,000 to Johnson C. Smith program

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation has awarded $500,000 to Johnson C. Smith University to support student-centered initiatives and help renovate the historic Dr. George E. Davis House.

Specifically cited for help is the university’s new College-to-Career student employment program, which provides professional training for students to help them become a part of the university’s current and future workforce. Tuition aid is included as part of the program.

Each year nearly 85 percent of the entering class at JCSU qualifies for need-based aid and 70 percent of the students come from low-income households, school officials said.

“We are charged as an urban university with providing access to highly motivated and talented students from all walks of life, and that includes helping our students find ways to finance their education,” the university’s president, Ronald Carter, said in a statement. “We are grateful to Bank of America for helping to remove some of the financial barriers facing our students.”

Charles Bowman, North Carolina market president for Bank of America, said the program fits squarely within the foundation’s mission of aiding workforce development. The bank also liked that it was innovative, helping to remove barriers to jobs and connect young people to career advancement opportunities.

“By partnering with Johnson C. Smith on their student employment program ... students will have the resources to learn professional skills outside of the classroom,” Bowman said in a statement.

The bank gift is also viewed as an economic investment, he said. “It helps the local economy,” he added. “Johnson C. Smith is right in our backyard.”

School officials said $100,000 of the bank grant will help renovate the historic Dr. George E. Davis House, which serves as the administrative hub for the Foster Village Network Center.

Administered by the university’s Department of Social Work, the center is designed to increase retention and graduation rates for students who are released from foster care.

The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that only 7 to 13 percent of foster care students enroll in higher education and only about 2 percent earn bachelor’s degrees.