The Urban League of Portland has been able to grow, over its nearly seven decades of service, to be one of the longest standing African American empowerment agencies, due in no small part of the support and generosity of the local business community. This year, under leadership of our President and CEO Michael Alexander, and thanks to the proven expertise of our Workforce Development director Debra Lindsay, the Urban League of Portland’s Workforce Programs are expanding with a generous grant from Bank of America. Bank of America has pledged to support the expansion of our Workforce Program, which had been scaled back in recent years due to lack of funding, and which can now serve a greater number of Portland’s African Americans. Our workforce department focuses on helping individuals overcome barriers to access and attain marketable skills and living-wage jobs as part of our mission to empower African Americans to achieve equality in economic opportunity.
The Urban League of Portland’s Workforce Programs provide quality career training to further professional growth and educational and personal development. Our services are provided to all levels of job seekers to help address the overwhelming unemployment and underemployment in this region for African Americans and others. Our work addresses the root causes of racially disparate unemployment numbers in the region, by eliminating barriers, and setting clear pathways to sustainable employment for our clients. Services are provided to anyone seeking employment with an emphasis on African Americans and other people of color. As the demographics of the workforce change, The Urban League is working to embrace these changes and accommodate the needs of the labor market.
Monique Barton, Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for Bank of America in Oregon and southwest Washington explained why Bank of America elected to lead the way to support the Urban League of Portland’s Workforce Program with this generous grant. “The Urban League of Portland makes critical contributions to our local community by breaking down employment barriers with their Workforce Program, which is about building a stronger, more skilled workforce,” said Barton, “Bank of America is pleased to support this effort with a $25,000 grant since programs like this help fuel the economic vitality of our region by putting people back to work. That’s something our local 1,600 employees are proud to be a part of.”
The Bank of America Charitable Foundation supports nonprofits in Portland to help connect the unemployed, underemployed, youth and those with disabilities to education and employment opportunities. The Urban League of Portland has additionally championed the need for a vibrant local economy, inclusive to all. “Providing support to local nonprofit organizations in Oregon is part of Bank of America’s broader effort to help create economically vibrant communities. In fact, our commitment to corporate social responsibility guides how we operate with our lending, investing and giving efforts,” said Roger Hinshaw, Bank of America’s President in Oregon and Southwest Washington. “As part of that, we’re especially proud to support programs that remove employment barriers like the important work Urban League of Portland is doing, and I’m hopeful that other corporate funders will step up and support this important work too.”
Bank of America’s leadership and commitment of support has inspired other local business to follow suit, and now and now our Workforce program, with new sponsorship from JP Morgan Chase, NW Natural, and Portland General Electric, can greatly expand its reach.
You can hear more about our President & CEO Michael Alexander’s vision for leadership in this recent profile on OPB’s Think Out Loud. You can read a brief bit about his vision of the Urban League’s role in the community here, in a series in the Portland Business Journal online, and subscribers can read a full profile about the Urban League, its generous funders, and the overall importance of diversity in the region in the August 23rd print edition of the Portland Business Journal.