News and analysis
July 17, 2014

Bank of America Fund Gives $500,000 to Shriver Corps to Fight Poverty

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation announced on Thursday that it would provide $500,000 to Shriver Corps, a new group that aims to help families achieve financial independence, as a way to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty.

The money will pay for 20 fellows working in six cities over the next three years.

Maria Shriver—daughter of Sargent Shriver, who headed President Lyndon B. Johnson’s antipoverty crusade—created the fellows program to augment the work of AmeriCorps members at sites run by LIFT, an anti-poverty nonprofit.

According to a new report from Ms. Shriver’s group, about 42 million women and 28 million children live paycheck to paycheck in the United States.

"The Shriver Corps will make a dent in that statistic by providing much-needed help to low-income families all over the country," Ms. Shriver, who created the fellows program through her nonprofit A Woman’s Nation, said in a statement.

The Shriver Corps grant, which the Bank of America foundation announced at its 10th annual Student Leaders Summit, is part of the foundation’s larger effort to encourage service among students, said its president, Kerry Sullivan.

The bank’s student leaders program has placed about 2,000 high-school juniors and seniors in internships at nonprofits and sent them to Washington to meet other students, nonprofit leaders, and lawmakers.

Earlier in the week, the students heard from Barbara Bush and Vanessa Kerry, the daughters of former President George W. Bush and Secretary of State John Kerry respectively, about why they pursued work at global-health nonprofits.

Both said that traveling abroad with their parents as teenagers had opened their eyes to the fact that it was pure luck that they were born into privileged positions.

Ms. Bush urged the students not to worry about rejection as they pursue their careers. When she started her nonprofit, Global Health Corps, which trains health care workers, she had to be persistent. "We went to tons of meetings where people said ‘no,’ " she said. "But no isn’t that bad."

Dr. Kerry, who said she was touched when a 7-year-old child in Vietnam asked her for her shoes, is now chief executive of Seed Global Health, which places health-care volunteers alongside Peace Corps members throughout the world.

The Shriver Corps and the student leadership program do not aim to develop a new cadre of nonprofit leaders, said Ms. Sullivan, but rather to instill a culture of service in young people no matter what they do.

"We’re not asking every student leader to go start a nonprofit," she said. "They can be an investment banker. But they’ll have a lens of wanting to give back to the community. It’s inspiring a new framework that we’re all in this together."

Send an email to Alex Daniels.