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Bank of America executive talks multi-million dollar contribution to close equity gaps in Charlotte communities

Community Conversation: Not only is the bank helping JCSU but it is also helping with Charlotte Mecklenburg School District, small businesses, affordable housing, raising wages, and providing jobs.
Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 8:37 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2021 at 10:14 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - On Nov. 1, companies including Bank of America raised more than $190 million for the Mayor’s Racial Equity Initiative.

The money will help close gaps that exist in Black communities. Bank of America Charlotte President Kieth Cockrell is excited to help Johnson C. Smith University, an HBCU (historically black college and university).

“I think two weeks ago was one of the best days of my life,” Bank of America Charlotte President Kieth Cockrell said. “With all due respect to the birth of my children, and marrying my wife - but to be part of that. To see leader after leader step forward and make a huge commitment in support of education, neighborhoods, housing, small businesses - that’s what we are talking about and that we are going to do it together.”

Cockrell wants JCSU to be one of the top five HBCUs in the country.

“It starts with students,” he said. “That’s your end product - but to get to top-notch students that are in high demand that everybody wants and that’s going to fuel our future growth here at Bank of America and the other businesses that are here. You got to provide quality education. You have to have a brand that’s known for preparing students for the future and so I think at J.C. Smith educationally - we have to enhance the educational programs and the disciplines that are there - ensure that they have a direct link to the job opportunities that employers are looking for and students will find them. I do believe we’ll have to raise the bar to academic excellence at the school - the oversight and governance of the University probably need to change.”

The bank president will sit on JCSU’s board. Cockrell says he must do what he can to help the community get better and stronger.

“This is our home,” Cockrell said. “We are proud to call Charlotte our headquartered city and so we wanted to play a significant role and be a catalyst if you will for the future of Charlotte. 2020 was a tough year for all of us in many ways - I applaud the mayor for coming into the business community - hey there is something we all can do.”

Bank of America is committing more than $20 million to improve racial equity in the city. Not only is the bank helping JCSU but it is also helping with Charlotte Mecklenburg School District, small businesses, affordable housing, raising wages, and providing jobs.

“If people are gainfully employed,” Cockrell said. “Then they have resources to buy cars and buy homes to invest in the future and that’s our core business. It’s just wise for us we manage our business in such a way.”

The goal is to give people updates on how the money has been spent and is it making a difference.

“The community deserves frequent updates in terms of how we’re doing,” Cockrell said. “What are the milestones. How do you carve that down to ensure that the investments that we are making today six years from now that there is a return on that investment? It shouldn’t be the end and so I believe communication and transparency are going to be critically important.”

You can catch Community Conversations Friday night at 7:30 on WBTV’s On Your Side Tonight with Jamie Boll.

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