ORANGE, NJ — Bank of America announced that five high school juniors and seniors from the New Jersey community, including Orange resident Jenny Rodriguez, have been selected as Student Leaders (#BofAStudentLeaders). This Bank of America signature philanthropic program offers young people who are passionate about improving the community an opportunity to build their workforce and leadership skills through an eight-week, paid summer internship at a local nonprofit and participation in a national leadership summit in Washington, D.C.

This summer, as part of its three-year, $40 million commitment to connect youth and young adults to skills, training and jobs, Bank of America is investing more than $3.6 million in funding to support 2,300 summer jobs for teens across the country, with a particular focus on young people from low-income families. Bank of America has also partnered with Khan Academy to provide information and tools to help young adults learn about careers and personal finance through Better Money Habits®, its financial wellness and education platform.

Today, approximately 8.8 percent of young people ages 16 to 24 are unemployed, and the rate is often in the double digits for African-American and Hispanic youth from underserved communities. Paid youth employment programs that connect young adults to education, training and the job market can help them build workforce skills while also enabling at-risk youth to avoid juvenile delinquency. 

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Through Student Leaders, Bank of America helps young people gain work experience, broaden their perspective on how nonprofits achieve their mission, and advance their civic engagement.  Bank of America Student Leaders also develop better money habits by working with bank volunteers to increase their financial management skills, from building a budget to creating a savings plan. At the leadership summit in Washington, D.C. (July 8-13), students joined 225 other young people from across the country to build advocacy and inclusive leadership skills and develop a peer network that can advance their future career success and contribute to economic progress in New Jersey. In addition to discussing civil rights and the value of cross-sector partnerships, they met with members of Congress and participated in a service learning project at the American Red Cross.

“We recognize that connecting young people to meaningful early employment can help them chart a path for career success and advance the long-term success of our community,” said Bob Doherty, New Jersey Market President, Bank of America. “The Student Leaders program offers youth in New Jersey a unique opportunity to build their resume while also learning more about how to shape positive community change that will result in a more sustainable community for us all.”

As part of this year’s Bank of America Student Leaders program, the New Jersey Student Leaders will complete their eight-week, paid summer internships at local Boys and Girls Clubs in New Jersey. Boys and Girls Clubs of America is a national, non-profit organization which provide after-school programs for young people to empower them to excel in school, become good citizens and lead healthy, productive lives. Student Leaders will engage and interact with the Club Director, program staff, volunteers, parents and youth to learn about the various components of the organization: Youth Development, Program Management and Administration, Public Relations and Marketing, Community Partnering and Board Relationships. Through these activities, Student Leaders will learn about the Boys & Girls Club’s important role in the communities it serves.

The New Jersey Student Leaders are:                                         

·         Carla Perez, a Trenton resident and rising senior at Foundation Collegiate Academy, is a member of the Juvenile Conference Committee, a group that recommends steps for youth to take that will benefit their future and that of their families. This summer, Carla will be interning with Boys and Girls Clubs of Mercer County.

·         Jenny Rodriguez, an Orange resident and recent graduate of Orange High School, is a Youth Leader for the Church Youth Group at her local parish and dedicates her time serving her community, acting as a role model for young girls in the group. This summer, Jenny will be interning with Boys and Girls Club of Ironbound.

·         Maria Pineda, a Jersey City resident and rising senior at Henry Snyder High School, is a volunteer at the Jersey City Medical Center, assisting with patient care as well as various events at the hospital. This summer, Maria will be interning with Boys and Girls Clubs of Hudson County in Jersey City.

·         Savannah Brown, a Vineland resident and recent graduate of Vineland High School, is President of the National Honor Society and President of the Keystone Club, a program that provides leadership development opportunities for teens ages 14 to 18. This summer, Savannah will be interning with The Boys & Girls Club of Vineland.

·         Shafaq Tanweer, a Jersey City resident and rising senior at the Infinity Institute, is a co-founder and representative of the local chapter of the Free the Slaves organization, which works towards resolving modern slavery worldwide. This summer, Shafaq will be interning with Boys & Girls Clubs of Hudson County in Jersey City.

More than 3,000 Student Leaders across the country have gained leadership skills and workforce experience through the program since 2004.