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Department of External Affairs
Free Library of Philadelphia
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Philadelphia, PA 19103-1189
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Contact: Sandra Horrocks
Bank of America Charitable Foundation Donates $200,000 to Project H.O.M.E. to Create Public Internet Café
Facility at Free Library of Philadelphia to provide job training and employment opportunities for formerly homeless individuals
PHILADELPHIA- The Bank of America Charitable Foundation today announced that it will donate $200,000 to Project H.O.M.E., a nonprofit organization committed to ending homelessness in Philadelphia, to support the construction of a wireless Internet café at the Central Library on the Parkway. The café will provide formerly homeless individuals and at-risk teenagers the opportunity to gain useful job skills and ease their transition into the workforce.
Recent statistics show there are an estimated 25,000 homeless people in Philadelphia. Over 60 percent of Philadelphia's homeless are families, and it is estimated there are approximately 3,500 to 3,900 homeless families in Philadelphia. This initiative is an innovative way to help homeless individuals and families break the cycle by helping them find jobs and gain work experience that will enable them to support themselves.
"Homelessness is a complex issue that we will not be able to resolve without the cooperative work of our entire community," said Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, president, Bank of America Pennsylvania. "Project H.O.M.E. has committed itself to breaking the cycle of homelessness. Without marketable job skills - like those they'll gain at this Internet café - these individuals will have a very difficult time earning a living wage. Bank of America is proud to work with Project H.O.M.E., the Free Library and a host of other community partners with the hope of ending homelessness in our great city."
The grant is part of Bank of America's corporate giving program and is being announced shortly after the company unveiled Bank of Opportunity, the theme for its new brand positioning. The new branding reflects Bank of America's unique role in helping individuals, businesses and communities around the world realize opportunities to achieve their goals.
The Bank of America Charitable Foundation's grant to Project H.O.M.E. is one of several significant philanthropic donations that have been announced in recent weeks. Each grant will address critical needs of communities throughout the U.S. in which the bank operates.
Project H.O.M.E., Metropolitan Bakery and the Free Library of Philadelphia, have created a partnership to operate the Internet Café off the lobby of the Central Library located at 1901 Vine Street. Metropolitan Bakery will provide wholesale baked goods, coffee and will act as a business and training consultant.
"We are delighted that Bank of America is continuing to support our efforts to address the needs of homeless and low-income people in our region," said Sister Mary Scullion, co-founder and executive director, Project H.O.M.E. "Providing meaningful opportunities for all of Philadelphia's residents is at the core of Project H.O.M.E.'s mission. Bank of America has been a strong supporter of our organization for years and today's announcement only solidifies their commitment to helping one of the most vulnerable populations in our city."
Project H.O.M.E. will provide staffing for the café through its Occupational Services Program (OSP). The OSP is a vital component of Project H.O.M.E.'s Continuum of Care, which assists residents in overcoming homelessness and poverty by providing employment and educational opportunities.
"The Free Library of Philadelphia is extraordinarily grateful to Bank of America and Project H.O.M.E. for making this Internet café a reality," said Linda E. Johnson, CEO, Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation. "As we embark on a major renovation and expansion of the Central Library, this is a major step in becoming 'The New Central Now.' Free internet access for all is one of the cornerstone services of the Free Library. We look forward to an active Internet café opening this summer."
Additionally, the Internet Café will provide valuable opportunities and training to members of the Harold A. Honickman Entrepreneurship Program at Project H.O.M.E., which assists and mentors students through the start-up of a business. The at-risk students participating in this program will be given the opportunity to lead operations at the café on Saturdays in the winter and spring seasons, thereby increasing their business skills and improving their self-esteem.
For the past 17 years, Project H.O.M.E. has operated the Back Home Café - located at 1515 Fairmount Avenue - a restaurant that provides prepared sandwiches and beverages for Project H.O.M.E. staff as well as pedestrian traffic.
About Bank of America Corporate Philanthropy
Bank of America has embarked on an unprecedented 10-year goal to give $1.5 billion to nonprofit organizations engaged in improving the quality and vitality of their neighborhoods. The bank will give more than $200 million in 2007, making it one of the most generous corporate donors in the world. Bank of America approaches giving through a national strategy called "neighborhood excellence" under which it works with local leaders to identify and meet the most pressing needs of individual communities. Through Team Bank of America, bank associate volunteers contribute more than 500,000 hours each year to improve the quality of life in their communities nationwide. For more information about Bank of America Corporate Philanthropy, please visit www.bankofamerica.com/foundation .
About Project H.O.M.E.
Since 1989, Project H.O.M.E. has helped more than 7,000 people break the cycle of homelessness and poverty by providing a continuum of care that includes street outreach, supportive housing and comprehensive services that focus on health care, education and employment. We also work to prevent homelessness and poverty through comprehensive neighborhood revitalization in North Philadelphia. These efforts include the renovation of vacant or deteriorated houses which are then sold to first-time homebuyers, economic reinvestment along the Ridge Avenue Corridor, greening of vacant lots, adult and youth education and enrichment programs at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs and community-based health care services.
About the Free Library
The Central Library is a technology-driven information resource located at the gateway to the city's cultural corridor - the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. With over seven million books, periodicals, CDs, DVDs, as well as daily seminars, workshops, and other events, Central is a hub of community life and activity. Roughly 700,000 people use the Library for internet access-to look for jobs, check email, and surf the web. Small businesses have been started at the Central Library, immigrants read newspapers in their native language, children love story hours, and the popular author series is regularly oversubscribed.
The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than six million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely-used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.