The Citizens Charitable Foundation announced today a $1.25 million grant to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to fuel digital inclusion in historically marginalized communities, helping residents build the skills they need to compete for jobs.
“Citizens is committed to helping our communities thrive, and equitable access to digital literacy is key to economic vitality,” said Bruce Van Saun, Chairman and CEO, Citizens Financial Group. “We are proud to work with LISC to ensure that people in historically marginalized communities are able to build the skills they need to compete for jobs now and in the future.”
Supporting work at eight LISC Financial Opportunity Center® (FOC) partners, the funding will help launch and expand digital services that prepare people for growth industries, including the information technology field. LISC FOCs are community-based programs that integrate services related to employment training and career coaching, job placement, financial coaching, and wrap-around social support like child-care, housing and transportation so that people can achieve long-term financial stability.
“Basic digital skills and access to technology and the internet are essential to participate in society and the economy,” said Katrin Sirje Kärk, LISC’s director of workforce innovations. “Advancing digital equity is a key LISC strategy for closing racial wealth gaps, and this grant from Citizens will help us embed digital skills training as a core component of the FOC experience, helping people build a strong career pathway for the future.”
The $1.25 million grant from Citizens builds on a pilot program, also supported by the bank, that tested approaches to bridging the digital skills gap. The grant is supporting one-on-one training, digital literacy workshops, ongoing digital coaching, and job training for the information technology field.
Since FOC services are delivered by experienced community-based nonprofits, the digital training is tailored to local economic and employment conditions, with a particular focus on people and communities where job loss, discrimination and underinvestment have limited opportunities. Importantly, the experience gained from these efforts can then be replicated throughout LISC’s national network of more than 120 FOCs, which serve 25,000 people each year.
The funding directly benefits people who face the steepest structural barriers to opportunity. More than 83 percent of FOC clients are people of color, and 60 percent are women. They take advantage of a range of FOC programs—including the Bridges to Career Opportunities program, which focuses on foundational skills like math and reading, as well as technical training—so they can move into better-paying jobs and build a more stable financial future.
Citizens has been a long-time supporter of LISC and FOCs, with more than $4 million in funding since 2018. The new digital inclusion grant is part of the bank’s broad efforts on workforce development to address critical economic needs, create stronger communities, and build a culture of inclusion, including investments in minority-led small businesses and nonprofits as well as partnerships that bridge the digital divide.
About Citizens Financial Group, Inc.
Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, with $226.7 billion in assets as of December 31, 2022. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, large corporations and institutions. Citizens helps its customers reach their potential by listening to them and by understanding their needs in order to offer tailored advice, ideas and solutions. In Consumer Banking, Citizens provides an integrated experience that includes mobile and online banking, a full-service customer contact center and the convenience of approximately 3,400 ATMs and approximately 1,100 branches in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Consumer Banking products and services include a full range of banking, lending, savings, wealth management and small business offerings. In Commercial Banking, Citizens offers a broad complement of financial products and solutions, including lending and leasing, deposit and treasury management services, foreign exchange, interest rate and commodity risk management solutions, as well as loan syndication, corporate finance, merger and acquisition, and debt and equity capital markets capabilities. More information is available at www.citizensbank.com or visit us on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.
LISC is one of the country’s largest community development organizations, helping forge vibrant, resilient communities across America. We work with residents and partners to close systemic gaps in health, wealth and opportunity and advance racial equity so that people and places can thrive. Since our founding in 1979, LISC has invested $29.7 billion to create more than 489,000 affordable homes and apartments, develop 81.5 million square feet of retail, community and educational space and help tens of thousands of people find employment and improve their finances. For more, visit www.lisc.org.
LISC’s Financial Opportunity Center® (FOC) partners provide one-on-one coaching services that help low- to moderate-income people build smart money habits, access higher paying jobs and focus on the financial bottom line. LISC has a network of more than 120 FOC partners across the country embedded in local community organizations known for their history of providing quality services. Since 2011, FOC sites have served nearly 100,000 community members in 25 states.