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Bank of America awards $400,000 to local Atlanta nonprofits

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation recently announced that it will continue to support Metro Atlanta nonprofits and has provided over $400,000 in unrestricted funding to address critical social issues through the bank’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative (NEI) program. The program is investing $20 million globally this year in addition to the more than $90 million committed over the last five years. The Bank of America Charitable Foundation gave more than $200 million in 2008, making the bank the most generous financial institution in the world and the second largest donor of all U.S. corporations in cash contributions

The Neighborhood Excellence Initiative, Bank of America’s signature philanthropic program, recognizes, nurtures, and rewards community -based organizations, local heroes and student leaders working to improve their communities. Their focus lies in the areas of education, community development/ neighborhood preservation, arts and culture, and health and human services.

This year, the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the Center for Pan Asian Community Services have been named two of the 92 Atlanta Neighborhood Builders® of 2009. Each organization will receive $200,000 in unrestricted grant funding and participate in Bank of America’s Neighborhood Excellence Leadership Program® with other nonprofit leaders from 45 communities across the country and London.

Founded in 1979, The Atlanta Community Food Bank provides a vital safety net for members of the Atlanta community facing hunger through a network of more than 800 community-based nonprofit agencies in neighborhoods across 38 counties in Metro Atlanta and North Georgia. It currently distributes more than 2 million pounds of food and other donated grocery items each month to people in need, ranging from children to the working poor. As a result of the current economy, the Food Bank has seen a tremendous increase in demand. So far this year, the organization has seen a 38 percent increase in the distribution of food and grocery products compared to last year.

The Center for Pan Asian Community Services supports immigrants, refuges and racial-ethnic minorities in the community, providing a range of services including health care, financial literacy and housing counseling. Established as the first and largest Asian and Pacific Islander health and human service agency in the Southeast region, CPACS has been providing its core group of services to immigrant and refugee families in Georgia since 1980. The center’s walk-in health clinic, which offers immunizations, preventive education and health screenings, serves more than 6,000 people each year.

The Neighborhood Excellence Initiative also recognizes two other categories of community leaders, being Local Heroes, who contribute significantly to the health of their neighborhood, and Student Leaders, who are exemplary high school juniors and seniors with a passion for improving their communities. Local Heroes will have the opportunity to direct a $5,000 donation from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to an eligible nonprofit of their choice.

By the end of 2009, more than 800 leaders from the nonprofit awardees will have participated in the Neighborhood Excellence Leadership Program®, which builds a network of community leaders across the country to share learning and insight in areas including strategic communications, financial management, succession planning, and long-term development. Through NEI, Bank of America has also encouraged community leadership at the grassroots level by recognizing more than 1,200 high school students and 1,200 community leaders over the last six years.

The 2009 Atlanta Local Heroes are:
• Edwin Chang, midtown Atlanta, funds will be donated to KIPP STRIVE Academy
• John Izard Jr., midtown Atlanta, funds will be donated to Piedmont Park Conservancy
• Brenda Joyce Muhammad, Fourth Ward, funds will be donated to Atlanta Victim Assistance
• Elisabeth Omilami, midtown Atlanta, funds will be donated to Hosea Feed the Hungry
• Alvin M. Sugarman, DeKalb County, will be donated to Genesis Shelter, Inc.

The 2009 Atlanta Student Leaders are:
• Ms. Nateja Diaz-Greene, a Hoschton resident and graduate of Mill Creek High School
• Justin Huckaby, an Atlanta resident and senior at Westlake High School
• Elise Lee, a Duluth resident and graduate of Northview High School
• Chris O’Connell, a Roswell resident and graduate of North Springs Charter High School
• Nichole Wiggins, an Atlanta resident and senior at Frederick Douglass High School

In our current economy, communities need more than ever to be supported not only by generouscompanies like Bank of America, but also by individuals like you and I. During the upcoming holiday season, please consider showing your support to organizations such as those highlighted above by volunteering, donating or informing others about the tremendously successful work that they are doing in our local communities.