Submitted by Christi Gordon, SVP and Manager of Corporate Social Responsibility, Bank of America
Rainier Scholars recently hosted its Senior Class Celebration event at the Space Needle to honor the outstanding achievements of its Cohort V high school seniors who will begin college this fall, and to recognize the tremendous impact of Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders unrestricted, $200,000 grant to help Rainier Scholars continue promoting leadership and academic excellence among low-income students of color. Bank of America is a long-time supporter of Rainier Scholars, and awarded them the grant based on their proven track record of shaping students into tomorrow’s leaders. This year’s graduates are no exception, as they exemplify the potential that can be reached through the Rainier Scholars program. They will be attending prestigious colleges across the country, including Yale, Harvard and University of Washington. This milestone year also celebrates Rainier Scholars first college graduates.
According to the Road Map Project, only 20 percent of low-income children earn a two or four year degree. Even more concerning, the compounding effects of poverty and race result in only one in ten students of color impacted by poverty completing a degree. Rainier Scholars’ rigorous academic program aims to counteract these trends by serving students of color with the greatest barriers to a college education – those who are low-income and who will be the first in their family to graduate from college.
“As a long-time supporter of Rainier Scholars, we are continually impressed by the caliber of young leaders coming out of its programs. To continue this positive impact in the Puget Sound, we are now investing in the organization’s long-term growth and development,” said Bob Peters, Washington State President of Bank of America. “By recognizing Rainier Scholars as a Neighborhood Builder, we know that even more students of color will be empowered to graduate high school with the skills to be successful in college and ultimately become strong future leaders and job candidates for our community’s workforce.”
Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builder award recognizes high-performing nonprofit organizations that have made a significant impact in the community. In addition to the unrestricted grant funding, the award also provides leadership training for executive directors and emerging leaders. As part of the 11-year Rainier Scholar journey, students attend five, 3-day leadership development retreats to discuss effective and ethical leadership as they learn about their own leadership abilities, preparing them for leadership roles in their schools and communities.
“Through the award, Bank of America enables us to further enhance our services to ensure that 100 percent of our students are not only college admissible but are truly college ready, and that 100 percent of our students are not only college graduates, but are career and workforce ready as well,” said Executive Director Sarah Smith. “The opportunity given to us by Bank of America to share best practices in our field of work and become students and learners once again in the field of leadership is a wonderful example to set for our scholars on the power and value of lifelong learning and the value of community leadership.”
Rainier Scholars serves 525 students, and will have 170 scholars enrolled in 80 colleges and universities in 24 states across the country this fall. This milestone year also celebrates Rainier Scholars first class of college graduates, with scholars accepting positions at global corporations including Boeing, Yahoo!, Waggener Edstrom, Liberty Mutual and Teach for America.