Mesa resident Deborah Opie, a financial services associate at AmTrust Bank, was the keynote speaker recently for the largest class of students enrolled in BankWork$, a program to help men and women improve their career opportunities by preparing for jobs in the financial industry.
Opie, a Class 5 graduate, surprised her daughter, Julie Moreta, also a Mesa resident and recent graduate, with her speech during graduation.
The students – representing more than a dozen communities, including Mesa – recently completed the eight-week, 160-hour program of Arizona Women’s Education & Employment (AWEE). It’s funded by financial institutions throughout the Valley and founders, The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation.
The largest class, 118 men and women, graduated from the program. These students “made a decision to find a career path that moves them out of lower-paying jobs with little or no upward potential,” said AWEE BankWork$ Supervisor Laura Fisher.
Applications for the next series of classes, which begin Sept. 18, are now being accepted by calling 602-601-7218 or visiting awee.org/bankworks. The application deadline is tomorrow, Sept. 8. Graduation is scheduled on Nov. 9. The program is free to participants and classes meet Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Of 92 previous graduates, 63 have been hired at either post-graduation job fairs or subsequent interviews.
Graduates from the Mesa classes, and their hometowns, are: Farhana Ahmed, Gilbert; Katelyn Andrich, Chandler; Hope Carson, Phoenix; Irma Jimenez, Casa Grande; Nikita Khadgi, Scottsdale; Julie Moretti, Mesa; Lanefertiti Perkins, Phoenix; and Diana Mata, Chandler.
AWEE launched the program in 2015 in partnership with BankWork$ and local financial institution partners to deepen its long-time work with adults from low-income and minority communities and those with barriers to employment.
The eight-week class provides training in the skills needed for jobs as tellers, customer service representatives and personal bankers.
BankWork$ also offers resume building, job interview practice, job placement assistance and ongoing coaching and mentoring to help with career advancement. Participants must be 18 years or older, have a high school diploma or GED, be fluent in written and spoken English, have basic computer skills and no adult felony convictions.
BankWork$ launched in 2006 in Los Angeles and, by 2019 will be operating in 15 or more cities nationwide. Its $4-million national expansion is funded by Bank of America, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, which have each pledged $1 million over five years to support the rollout, and by The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, which founded the program and has also pledged $1 million.
Since its launch, more than 1,600 BankWork$ graduates have been hired by banks and other financial institutions. BankWork$ is placing approximately 71 percent of graduates with partner banks each year.
– Kelly Mixer is managing editor of MyNewsMesa.com. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.