Bank of America expands the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell

CHARLOTTE, N.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As part of Bank of America’s $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, today – Women’s Entrepreneurship Day – the company announced a further expansion of the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell. Due to the program’s success, Bank of America will add 30,000 seats – bringing the total enrollment of small business owners to 50,000 – and will work with Cornell to develop a Spanish language curriculum and hire Spanish-speaking teaching assistants to more effectively support Hispanic-Latino entrepreneurs.

The Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell is the only Ivy League program offering a certificate in women’s entrepreneurship, and at no cost. Since its launch in 2018, the institute has enrolled more than 20,000 individuals, primarily women, of whom 86% identify as women of color. Registration is open to anyone worldwide, regardless of gender, educational background or business stage.

As part of the program expansion, Bank of America will partner with several nonprofits, including the National Urban League, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders and Prospera, to create more enrollment opportunities for Black and Hispanic-Latino entrepreneurs.

The challenges that women entrepreneurs face have multiplied over recent months. According to a recent McKinsey study, while women made up 46% of U.S. employment pre-coronavirus, they account for 54% of overall job losses year to date – with women of color the hardest hit.

“With women bearing much of the economic brunt of the pandemic – and particularly women of color – our further investment in the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Cornell has never felt more important,” said Anne Finucane, vice chairman at Bank of America. “Amid the unforeseen challenges and events this year, we must continue to invest in women entrepreneurs to drive economic growth, because when women-owned businesses thrive, our communities flourish.”

“We at Cornell are extremely proud of the impact the Bank of America Institute for Women’s Entrepreneurship is having on aspiring entrepreneurs,” said Martha E. Pollack, president of Cornell University. “The institute builds on Cornell’s commitment to the public good and on the strength of our faculty in providing practical, focused, accessible education.”

Through coursework that draws on curricula from across Cornell’s schools, the instructor-led classes and limited class size provide women the opportunity to learn new skills, connect with a vibrant network of entrepreneurs and social innovators, and access the resources they need to manage and scale a successful business. These courses include Creating Your Venture; Laying the Legal Building Blocks; Assessing and Obtaining Financial Resources; Growth Leadership for Women Entrepreneurs; Product Development and Digital Marketing; and Communication, Negotiation and Persuasiveness.

Investing in women

Bank of America’s investment in women as they make meaningful contributions within the company and in communities around the world includes a focus on being a great place to work for its female employees, improving the financial lives of female clients, and advancing women’s economic empowerment worldwide. The company has several long-standing partnerships, through which it has helped more than 30,000 women from 85 countries grow their businesses, including:

  • Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program: Since 2014, Bank of America has committed $100 million in capital to the Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program, helping women business owners gain access to affordable loans. To date, more than 3,400 women have received nearly $57 million in loans through community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to help them grow their businesses.
  • Global Ambassadors Program: A partnership between Bank of America and Vital Voices, the Global Ambassadors Program pairs women entrepreneurs with senior women executives for a week of one-on-one mentorship and workshops designed to build business acumen. To date, the program has impacted more than 400 women from 85 countries – helping mentees grow their businesses and organizations through more than 8,000 hours of training and mentorship.
  • Cherie Blair Foundation: Since 2013, Bank of America has partnered with the Cherie Blair Foundation on its Mentoring Women in Business program, which has matched more than 2,700 women in developing and emerging countries to online mentors, including more than 500 mentors from Bank of America.
  • Kiva: Through a partnership with Kiva, Bank of America has committed more than $2 million in funds to women business owners, assisting more than 17,200 women entrepreneurs from 45 countries.

Recent Bank of America announcements focused on racial equality, diversity and inclusion, and economic opportunity include:

Bank of America Environmental, Social and Governance
At Bank of America, we’re guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. We’re delivering on this through responsible growth with a focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across our eight lines of business and reflects how we help fuel the global economy, build trust and credibility, and represent a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It’s demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace we create for our employees, the responsible products and services we offer our clients, and the impact we make around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organizations, to bring together our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact. Learn more at about.bankofamerica.com, and connect with us on Twitter (@BofA_News).

For more Bank of America news, including dividend announcements and other important information, visit the Bank of America newsroom and register for news email alerts.

www.bankofamerica.com

Contacts
Eliza Murphy, Bank of America
Phone: 1.347.603.6845
eliza.murphy@bofa.com

eCornell gives high school students an analytic edge

A collaboration between eCornell and the nonprofit National Education Equity Lab is giving high school students in underserved communities the opportunity to develop skills in business analytics while also gaining the confidence to recognize they can excel in college, even in the Ivy League.

The partnership has resulted in eCornell’s first certificate course aimed at high school students. Pre-college Analytics and Spreadsheet Modeling is a four-week pilot course that launched June 24 with a class of 132 students, who are learning how to organize and analyze data in Excel and use that information as a decision-making tool.

This course follows a “buy one, give one” model, whereby 60 students recruited by eCornell each pay $150 to enroll, which helps offset the costs of 72 students selected from Equity Lab’s network of partnering underserved high schools across the country. All of these schools receive Title 1 federal funding because of their high concentrations of poverty and families in need.

“Highly talented, motivated students in our lowest income communities – who tend to be largely students of color and first-generation students – are often unable to demonstrate that they’ve got what it takes to be a successful college student,” said Leslie Cornfeld, founder and CEO of Equity Lab. “Research shows that current college admissions metrics can mask talent, particularly for low-income students. Education, we know, is the number one lever for social and economic mobility, and the future success of our country.”

Equity Lab works to advance educational and life opportunities for highly talented, low-income students and students of color by collaborating with philanthropic, nonprofit and academic institutions such as the Common Application, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and Harvard University. Equity Lab and eCornell were brought together by Steven Carvell, vice provost for external education strategy, at a crucial time. COVID-19 has created an enormous surge in the need for innovative online education models, especially in communities that the Equity Lab targets, which have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

“These are the families that are on the front lines in our country right now. They are not only the essential workers. They are suffering the highest levels of unemployment, food and housing insecurity, and illness,” Cornfeld said. “And in the midst of this crisis, these students leaped at the opportunity to take this course.”

While some teenagers might blanch at the idea of spending a month of their summer vacation learning about spreadsheets, most of the slots Cornell made available to the Equity Lab students were filled within 24 hours of posting.

“These students don’t get opportunities like this very often, and they are determined to take full advantage of it,” said Cornfeld, a former federal civil rights prosecutor who served as an adviser on education equity issues for former President Barack Obama’s administration.

Knowledge of data analytics is essential for anyone hoping to join the 21st-century workforce, and it’s also a practical tool for managing personal finances, according to Donna Haeger, professor of practice in the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, who created and teaches the course.

“I always tell students that understanding how to make decisions with data is becoming just as important as reading and math,” said Haeger. “Businesses are really challenged right now to find qualified individuals who know how to model and make decisions using data. It doesn’t matter what industry you choose to enter. Data is everywhere.”

Haeger previously created a professional development certificate course in business analytics for eCornell. She modified those materials for a high school audience by simplifying the terminology and using age-appropriate examples. Rather than investing in a diversified portfolio, students solve problems like organizing a bake sale or buying clothing for a sports team. Haeger worked with eCornell to develop explanatory videos that are incorporated into the modules. And she added a weekly hourlong synchronous group session, so students can ask her questions directly and feel more connected.

“This course is a great equalizer. Everybody is able to jump in and try it for the first time. And it’s low risk for them,” Haeger said. “I think people are really intimidated by terms like ‘big data’ and ‘business analytics.’ I try to demystify all of that and make sure the students have a really positive experience. They realize, ‘Wow, I can do this.’”

The Equity Lab team has also been meeting with the students in weekly sessions to track their progress. Their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, Cornfeld said. While the material is difficult, it has given them a chance to prove to themselves, and to higher education institutions, that they are able to meet the challenge.

For Donovan Blount, a rising senior at Rockaway Collegiate High School in Queens, New York, the certificate course is potentially life-changing.

“Opportunities like this are important for students like me because most students who grow up in low to average income neighborhoods cannot afford prestigious classes,” he said. “So a free, informative class like this can open up doors of opportunity that we did not know were even possible.”

Cornell’s New Programs Equip Managers and HR Leaders to Build an Aware Organizational Culture

Participants learn critical strategies for creating a supportive and engaging workplace

As today’s headlines prove, an inclusive work environment is not just a nice-to-have, it can make or break a company. Engaged employees, a diverse workforce, and an inclusive climate provide organizations with a competitive advantage. Recognizing the need for companies to understand the complex dynamics underlying diversity challenges and opportunities within their organizations, Cornell has now announced the launch of two new online Diversity and Inclusion certificate programs.

Available 100% online through eCornell, learners can choose from a program designed expressly for HR professionals and a track for managers in any part of the organization. The programs teach learners critical strategies to help their teams increase employee engagement, counter unconscious bias, and build a more inclusive work environment.

“An organization is only as good as its culture—and every manager and HR leader is responsible for culture,” said Cornell ILR professor Lisa H. Nishii, who authored the program. “It goes without saying that organizations today must move beyond mere compliance and focus on constructing a work culture that promotes inclusion. The problem is, despite the ubiquity of the term inclusion, its definition and implementation often remain murky. This set of courses is designed to train workplace professionals to decode unconscious bias and how it affects employees, and to design work practices and norms that more effectively leverage the potential among all employees.”

Learners enrolled in the certificate programs can help make their organization a more inclusive and engaging place to work by understanding the perceptual, institutional, and psychological processes that impact the ways people interact with each other. Courses include:

  • Improving Engagement
  • Counteracting Unconscious Bias
  • Diversity and Inclusion in Practice
  • Fostering an Inclusive Climate

Upon successful completion of all four courses, learners earn a Diversity and Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University’s ILR School.