TACOMA — The Bank of America Charitable Foundation has awarded FISH Food Banks the 2014 Neighborhood Builders® award and made the official announcement today in front of hundreds of top business and community leaders in Pierce County at the Tacoma Rotary 8 Luncheon.
The Neighborhood Builders program is a strategic investment that couples leadership training with a $200,000 unrestricted grant for high-performing nonprofits that have made a significant impact addressing needs related to community development, critical needs or workforce development and education. Nonprofit leaders gain valuable skills and apply funding where it is most needed for maximum local impact.
“With one in six Americans at risk for hunger in the United States, we recognize the important role FISH Food Bank plays in serving our most vulnerable residents and ensuring better lives for many individuals and families in Pierce County communities by providing critical needs to those who are hungry,” said Christi Gordon, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Bank of America, Puget Sound. “It’s our hope that this leadership training and funding will not only deepen their impact today but sustain their mission and services over time.”
FISH Food Banks, established in 1973, provides food to individuals in need through their seven food bank locations in Pierce County as well as through a Mobile Food Bank. The Mobile Food Bank is a semi-truck and trailer outfitted specifically for food distribution in impoverished areas of Pierce County that have limited or no access to nutritious food. Last year, the first full year of operation, the Mobile Food Bank served almost 30,000 people and, as a whole in 2012, FISH Food Banks served 556,298 individuals and distributed a total of more than 6 million pounds of food.
With this funding from Bank of America, FISH Food Banks hopes to drastically increase the amount of people served by doubling the food distribution of the Mobile Food Bank, bringing it to 10 sites per week in 2014.
“In assessing our operations and our ability to serve families in need, we recognized that the combination of drastic cutbacks in public transportation and continued high gas prices have created real obstacles for many low-income families,” said Beth Elliott, Executive Director, FISH Food Banks of Pierce County. “There are large pockets of poverty in Pierce County where there is little or no access to a food bank. To alleviate hunger in these areas with high poverty, limited access to transportation and limited access to nutritious food, we decided to launch a Mobile Food Bank. This grant from Bank of America will make a huge difference in the amount of food we’re able to distribute and the amount of people we’re able to serve.”
According to the Bridgespan Group, Neighborhood Builders is the largest investment in nonprofit leadership development, 2.5 times the next largest program (in spending) and the third largest in number of leaders served. Through the program, now in its tenth year, Bank of America has invested $160 million in 800 nonprofit organizations and provided training to 1,600 nonprofit leaders. Neighborhood Builders furthers the company’s broader philanthropic commitment to addressing core issues that are critical to the economic vitality of local economies, with a particular focus on low- and moderate-income communities.