The YMCA Helps More Neighbors Thanks to Gift from Bank of America

Staff Report

Thursday, September 29th, 2022

More local families throughout the greater Savannah area will receive assistance thanks to a generous donation to the YMCA of Coastal Georgia from Bank of America in support of youth employment and training. 

To strengthen the community, Bank of America is helping to address barriers to basic needs, workforce development, and education by directing $25,000 to the Y to address COVID-related response efforts including employment opportunity and skills training, critical childcare, and access to fresh, healthy foods. 

A 2021 report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation shared that more than half of adults with children in Georgia reported loss of income due to the pandemic and more than 4.1 million Georgians have filed for unemployment since the pandemic began. Additionally, food banks in Georgia have seen a 50 percent increase in demand. Funds from this gift will help Coastal Georgia’s Ys to be strong, poised to respond to crisis, focused on community needs and positioned for the future. The Y continues, two years into the pandemic, to offer critical services to help the community heal and provide support to families.  

The YMCA of Coastal Georgia is proud to offer employment opportunities to local teens in our community. Their experience at the Y provides these youth employees with soft skills development as well as hands-on work experience. In 2021, the Y employed 67 teens between 16 and 19 who worked across a variety of program areas. Additionally, 51 teen volunteers between the ages of 13 and 15 participated in Leaders in Training opportunities. All Y employees receive job skills training appropriate to their assigned department as well as a four-hour safety training provided through the YMCA’s training partner The Redwoods Group. Employees who work in Summer Camp or Child Care programs also receive ten hours of health and safety training and two hours of CPR and first aid training. The Y absorbs the cost of the training, screenings, and background checks ($277 per employee) so that no costs are passed on to new hires. 

Joel Smoker, president & CEO of the YMCA of Coastal Georgia, is proud of and grateful for the partnership between the Y and Bank of America. 

“Bank of America has been a strong partner to the YMCA of Coastal Georgia for years, now. Their generous funds help the Y remain nimble and ensures that we will continue to thrive amidst the COVID crisis and when it’s over.” 

“Partnering with the YMCA of Coastal Georgia and their youth empowerment program is part of our approach to driving economic opportunity in Savannah,” says Patrick O’Neil, president, Bank of America Savannah. “We recognize young adults are the future of our community and that early employment is critical to help young people build the skills, networks, and experience to achieve long-term success.” 

For many years, Bank of America has worked with nonprofit partners, local organizations and leaders across public and private sectors in Savannah to help drive economic mobility for vulnerable populations. The YMCA of Coastal Georgia serves more than 70,000 members and program participants, providing over $2 million in community benefit in 2021. More than 10,000 people received direct income-based assistance for programs and membership over the course of the year and provided almost 7,000 pounds of fresh produce for free to members of the community.