Young college students have been projected as among the top groups most negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic toll has led to job loss, rescinded job offers, and lower budgets for hiring. To make matters worse, students of color historically have more difficult and lengthy experiences looking for work.

To combat this bleak economic outlook, Bank of America has partnered with Morgan State University to implement a $1 million jobs initiative. Students of color will be supported in completing the education and training that will equip them for success in the workforce and beyond. This initiative is just part of Bank of America’s efforts to address and remedy underlying issues facing both individuals and communities of color impacted by the pandemic. Read more of this impactful partnership in Morgan’s statement below.

“The work of HBCUs like Morgan State University is at the core of closing the skills gap for communities of color,” said Sabina Kelly, Greater Maryland market president for Bank of America. “Through Bank of America’s partnership with Morgan State University, we can help address the widespread inequities in our communities by providing students with the resources they need for future employment and advancing economic mobility.”

This year, the bank provided $1.3 million in grants to nonprofits led by or serving people of color that are connecting individuals to skills and employment in Maryland. The initiative is part of the bank’s recent $1 billion, four-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, and its $25 million commitment to enhance up-skilling and reskilling for Black/African American and Hispanic-Latino individuals.

Today, less than 40 percent of community college students earn a certificate or degree within six years of enrollment. According to the most recent data provided by the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), the average enrollment for all of Maryland’s four-year public institutions is 13,961 students and the average statewide six-year graduation rate for public four-year institutions is 71.1%. Morgan State University’s current enrollment stands at nearly 8,000 students with a six-year graduation rate of 46.3% en route to 50% by or before the year 2025. In addition, Morgan has maintained an impressive student retention rate of 70% or more for 10 consecutive years.

Nationally, for students of color, graduation and completion rates are particularly low – 28.8 percent for Black students and 37.1 percent for Hispanic students.  Although HBCUs and HSIs are a mix of public and private institutions, the ongoing challenges brought on by coronavirus, have exacerbated their financial struggle as they seek to serve students from the most vulnerable communities.

“We are enthusiastic about this opportunity to collaborate with one of the world’s leading financial institutions and are appreciative of Bank of America’s commitment to aid Morgan in its mission to produce proficient, career-tracked professionals who endeavor to impact their chosen fields beyond college,” said David Wilson, president of Morgan State University. “Institutions such as Morgan, have long served as valuable pipelines to an overabundance of brilliant and highly-capable African-American talent; often untapped and underrepresented. The resources provided by Bank of America will assist in broadening that pipeline to more employers—particularly those within the financial sector.”

With the support from Bank of America, Morgan State University will enhance existing programs to meet specific skills gaps to create higher paying, family-sustaining jobs that are in demand. Bank of America will work alongside employers in Maryland to ensure these programs target specific hiring needs and create a clearly defined career pathway to future employment.