Kitchens for Good and Bank of America teams. Photo courtesy BofA

Alpha Project and Kitchens for Good have been named as the 2019 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders® awardees for San Diego. The nonprofits were selected for their work to end homelessness and create workforce training and opportunities.

Bank of America Neighborhood Builders award provides a $200,000 grant for each honoree, a year of leadership training for the executive director and an emerging leader at the organization, a network of peer organizations across the U.S., and the opportunity to access capital to expand their impact.

“The affordable housing and job training programs offered by Alpha Project and Kitchens for Good are making an enormous impact addressing homelessness, workforce development, and food insecurity.  These are critical issues for our community,” said Rick Bregman, San Diego Market President, Bank of America. “We are proud to partner and invest in these fine organizations. They are rooted in giving people the tools, resources and respect they need to help rebuild their lives and advance sustainable personal and financial growth.”

Alpha Project is a 30-year old San Diego organization providing permanent supportive housing as well as emergency shelter and housing in addition to work, nutrition, recovery and support services to help more than 4,000 men, women, and children successfully transition out of homelessness.

“For most of our program participants, successful completion of our programs means permanent independence through education, employment, sobriety, and stability,” said Bob McElroy, Founder and CEO of Alpha Project. “Our vision has always been not to manage homelessness, but rather to end it for our clients by offering jobs not handouts, respect not pity, and empowerment not control.”

Kitchens for Good breaks the cycle of food waste, poverty and hunger through a combination of workforce training, healthy food production and social enterprise. It offers a tuition-free culinary apprenticeship with paid hours of training designed to break the cycle of poverty for people transitioning from incarceration, homelessness, and foster care, while helping economically disadvantaged communities overcome food insecurity.  KFG has trained more than 300 people and has an 86% employment rate with only 5% of formerly incarcerated students returning to prison, as compared to the statewide average of 50%. The Neighborhood Builders grant will help fund the acquisition of two new training kitchens, as well as hiring teaching staff and coordinators to sustain its expansion.

“For many of our students, this is their first opportunity to shed labels like ‘felon,’ ‘foster kid,’ and ‘homeless,’ and replace them with new chosen labels like ’employed,’ ‘cook,’ and ’empowered,’” said Jennifer Gilmore, chief executive Officer of Kitchens for Good. By leveraging the Neighborhood Builder program, hundreds of additional students will gain the knife skills and the life skills they need to get and keep a job, and hundreds of thousands of meals will be served annually to those in need – a true win-win that empowers sustainable careers.”

Over the past 15 years, Bank of America has invested $240 million in 49 communities through Neighborhood Builders, partnering with more than 1,000 nonprofits and helping more than 2,000 nonprofit leaders strengthen their leadership skills. The invitation-only program is highly competitive, and with winners selected by local community leaders.