Bank of America program provides students with leadership and money education

Kara Simmons is a graduate of Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep. She is one of five participants for the Bank of America Student Leader program. Photo provided by Bank of America.
Kara Simmons is a graduate of Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep. She is one of five participants for the Bank of America Student Leader program. Photo provided by Bank of America.

 Bank of America program provides students with leadership and money education

By Tia Carol Jones
Kara Simmons wanted something to do for the summer before she went off to college. Simmons, a graduate of Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep has always been interested in community service and giving back to the community. While in high school, she founded kNOw Limits Tutoring, a free virtual tutoring service.


Simmons is one of five student leaders who are participating in the Bank of America Student Leaders program. The eight-week paid internship program is a way for students to obtain leadership experience, develop skills and do community service. During the program, the students also receive personal finance skills through Bank of America’s financial wellness and education platform, Better Money Habits. With Better Money Habits, students learn how to budget and save money, save for necessities, as well as how to pay for college.


This year, the five student leaders in Chicago worked with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago. As part of the program, the leaders will participate in a virtual Leadership Summit, which will give them the opportunity to engage with elected officials, as well as leaders in human and civil rights.


The Bank of America Student Leaders program has been around since 2004 and 300 student leaders have participated in the program. Throughout the course of the program, the students learn about how nonprofits work and the role of nonprofits in supporting and building up the communities they serve.


Simmons has been working at the Boys and Girls Club at the Ford Heights location. She has been working with the children at the club -- planning activities for them, taking field trips, as well as interacting with the community. Simmons described her experience as amazing.


Students chosen for the program are involved in their community. In first time calls with students, Wagner has heard the change in the students from the start of their internship to the end of the program.


“We do so much work with our nonprofit partners, yet we’re also cognizant that we need to build the workforce of the future. Part of that, is instilling within young people the ability to give back by working with a nonprofit but it’s also helping them develop their leadership skills, teaching them about the values of being part of an organization,” said Diane Wagner, spokesperson for Bank of America.


Wagner added that after the program, the student leaders have formed an alumni organization, and it has been great to see the things they have done since leaving the program, in their personal and professional lives. They continue to give back to their community.


Simmons will attend Tennessee State University where she will study biology. She has always known she wanted to go into the medical field. She has seen what happens when there are healthcare access deserts in a community, and she wanted to serve her community by going into medicine. She ultimately wants to become a Surgeon.


For more information about the Bank of America Student Leader program, visit https://tinyurl.com/pspwnjrk.

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