Bank of America and the New Memphis organization have collaborated on a program for young people interested in becoming community leaders.
Through the Student Leaders program, two students from Shelby County Schools were placed in summer internships with a local non-profit organization while learning important time- and money-management skills.
“It’s a paid internship that really goes beyond providing young people with an opportunity to build a resume again, wonderful workforce experience,” said Trevia Chatman, president of Bank of America Memphis. “We help young adults gain a better understanding of their personal finances curriculum, financial wellness education, and all of these things that help to prepare our young adults for adulthood and careers and finances just overall paths for the future.”
The Student Leaders program, which Bank of America started in 2004, annually recognizes 300 community-focused juniors and seniors from across the United State. Bank of America first partnered with New Memphis in 2018 with its first two students. The Memphis-based Student Leaders engaged in an eight-week paid internship, which ended August 31, and participated in programming that included a collaborative, mentor-focused project working closely with New Memphis, which specializes in leadership development and community engagement.
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For New Memphis, the collaboration helps serve its mission to develop and retain talent in Memphis.
“We believe that making our city magnetic starts with our biggest asset, which we believe is our people,” said Anna Thompson, a New Memphis spokeswoman.
New Memphis provides professional development programming for talent from the collegiate level to the executive level. “We believe that Memphis needs talent, our businesses need talent to thrive and our government… needs talent to solve problems, our schools need talent to better educate our youth and future generations and communities need this talent to innovate and work for a better future,” Thompson said.
“It’s important that we showcase all that Memphis has to offer to local students, and specifically Shelby County students because they know Memphis and so they have the ideas to be innovative and help us solve our problems…and be a more magnetic city,” Thompson said.
Students and program alumni say that participating in the program gave them the skills to succeed in their personal and professional lives.
Tytianna Pope, an intern and student leader who is a 2021 graduate of East High School, said that interning with New Memphis has exposed her to various nonprofits that serve the Memphis community.
“I’m very passionate about creating a more equitable educational system. It was really important for me to learn about nonprofits around Memphis that I just simply do not know about that could aid and help in reforming our school system.”
For Landerson Young, a student leader and 2021 grad of Germantown High School, the program allowed her to further explore her passion for financial literacy among Black women.
“What drew me to my passion in this work was reallybeing around my grandmother. Throughher life, she really wasn’t given a lot of the opportunities that I have been given,” she said. “I’m so interested in and so passionate about economic mobility, especially amongst black women, and so that’s really what I’m passionate about, especially in the city of Memphis, and the United States, in general, we look at the median wealth for black women is so low compared to everyone else. And so that, really what my passion is.”
In addition to financial management, Student Leaders alumna and Dillard University student Kiarston Blackman said that the program has helped her remain disciplined and accountable being in college six hours away from her family.
Blackman continues to pay the lessons and values she’s learned from the program forward to younger generations.
“I also work with our freshmen and making sure that they understand why it’s important to not only go to school but make sure you’re coming back every semester, trying to be better paid and always making sure you’re the best person that you can be. And I feel like a lot of that came from working with Bank of America Student Leaders because they were always pushing us to be better versions of ourselves,” she said.
Despite having to conduct the program virtually for the last two years of the program, the Student Leaders program persisted.
“We feel that our Student Leaders didn’t miss a beat,” Chatman said about the shift. In addition to being able to engage with the program, students were still able to attend the virtual Student Leaders Summit, which is typically held in Washington, D.C.
“We really worked to curate an experience, virtually, where the student leaders still had that opportunity to explore leadership and government and nonprofits, participate in seminars with policymakers, other businesses and other experts to discuss current events and understand the importance of diversity and inclusion and how we all work together to move our communities forward,” Chatman said.
In the future, Chatman hopes that the program continues to grow and thrive.
“It is directly connected to workforce development initiatives, and how we build bridges and create pathways for our next generation to prepare to lead the future.”
For more information about Bank of America Student Leaders, visit about.bankofamerica.com/en/making-an-impact/student-leaders.
Astrid Kayembe covers South Memphis, Whitehaven and Westwood. She can be reached at [email protected], (901) 304-7929 or @astridkayembe_ on Twitter.
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