Unidos in Finance
The LAA program Unidos in Finance exists to help participants jumpstart a career in the banking industry. With its robust curriculum, Unidos in Finance provides the initial tools needed to get a job in this dynamic field. Participants attend exclusive trainings and connect with well-known banks like Bank of America, Truist, Regions, and others to help secure a job after completing the program. Once participants graduate, they are qualified to fill personally and professionally rewarding banking industry roles. From bank teller to client service representative to relationship banker, numerous positions are accessible to participants with the training of Unidos in Finance combined with their own life experiences.
80% of enrolled participants graduate from the program
48% of Unidos in Finance graduates receive job improvements such as promotions, salary increases and benefits.
Bank of America has hired over 110 people from the program
Program participants go through 10 mock interviews
Unidos in Finance arrived at the LAA through a partnership with UnidosUS in the spring of 2019. They were looking to expand Latinos in Finance, their nation-wide program supported by Bank of America, to the economic capital of the southeast, Atlanta. With LAA’s commitment to connecting the local Latino community with opportunities for economic and professional success, partnering with UnidosUS benefited everyone involved. In the words of Leanne Ryder and Roger Figueroa, Senior Program Managers at UnidosUS, the LAA is a “bridge between folks that have super relevant home country experience but are not connected to the U.S. banking community and then banks that are looking for bilingual talent.”
Bank of America x UnidosUS x LAA, creating impact that goes beyond the program
Directly involved with laying the groundwork for this partnership has been Johanna Velasquez, Vice President and Private Client Manager with Bank of America Private Bank. Her director presented her with the opportunity to partner with the LAA to help grow the Unidos in Finance program right from the start. In Johanna’s eyes, this partnership seemed like the perfect marriage. “Finding an organization like the LAA who is truly dedicated to the betterment of the Latino community and our bank who really wanted to support that.”
The relationship between the LAA and UnidosUS has since expanded to several programs including the computer career certificate program, LatinX in Tech. UnidosUS “recognizes that the LAA is a hub for Latinos and immigrants from other communities in and around Atlanta. And it’s important for us to support the growth of the LAA’s program so that even more community members have access to digital literacy programming, industry-specific job training and small business supports. LAA staff invest back into UNIDOS through their willingness to share program experiences and expertise with other affiliates in the network, whether formally through presentations at conferences or events.”
These programs have an impact that goes beyond just their graduates. After hearing about the Unidos in Finance success, several participants hired by Bank of America have recommended the program as well as other resources offered by the LAA to their friends and family which has continued our mission of offering opportunity for all.
Johanna Velasquez – One person makes a difference
Johanna is a Venezuelan immigrant who started her journey with Bank of America 18 years ago. Now she is the first Latina to work in Bank of America’s Private Bank sector here in Georgia. As an immigrant who put herself through college, she saw the need to help educate the Latino community about finances and break traditional banking stereotypes. It was this combination of life experiences and education that led her to her path at Bank of America.
Bank of America values mirroring the communities that they serve. Johanna, a team of dedicated leaders at Bank of America and it’s Academy have taken that value to heart. This includes her colleagues Anthony Brual and Yolanda Centeno who have been instrumental in strengthening the partnership. They have been dedicated to not only making Unidos in Finance successful but making intentional hires out of the graduate that will go on to support the needs of the community. Bank of America in turn has received clear proof of how the program provides economic stability to entire families through giving graduates the opportunity to work in the banking industry.
To Johanna, the success of the program is extremely meaningful and it’s all about the participants and what they get out of the program. She says:
“Any time we get an opportunity to uplift that Latino/Hispanic community is a win for all of us. And we’ve gotten amazing talent out of the program. We think of the time and effort we’ve invested in these individuals. But we’ve got great talent – people who are now going to serve the community.”
Pictured above: Johanna Velazquez, Ana M Skelton, Yolanda Centeno and Jose Valer during the March 18th Unidos in Finance graduation
Jose Delcid – From bartending to a career in banking
Jose Delcid arrived to the U.S. at the age of 14 with his parents. After high school, he worked for PF Chang’s for 16 years in multiple positions. Once he turned 40, he was still working as a bartender at PF Chang’s but wanted to turn his career around to have more work/life balance. One day, he came to the LAA looking for volunteer opportunities and stumbled upon a Unidos in Finance orientation session. Although he hadn’t come to the LAA for that specifically, joining the program changed his life forever.
“That’s the beauty of the LAA and why it’s such an important organization for us to have. I went there to volunteer and ended up finding help for myself because graduating from Unidos in Finance was one of the best changes I made in my life. From bartending to a career in banking.”
Once he graduated from Unidos in Finance, he was offered multiple job offers at different partner banks but ultimately decided to join the Bank of America team. He currently serves as a Senior Personal Banker, where he is responsible for assisting current customers at the bank with their financial needs. Jose is still very close with his graduating class and has come back as a Unidos in Finance volunteer to help with the mock interview process and classes.
For more success stories, please read our other UnidosUS blog post: Banking on Success in Atlanta
To learn more about The LAA’s Unidos in Finance course or to apply to the next cohort, click here.