In Council News, Darrell L. Clarke, Derek Green, News, W. Wilson Goode by PHL Council

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City Council, Philadelphia OIC Announce Partnership to Prepare Disadvantaged People for Jobs in the Banking Industry

           Philadelphia, June 8, 2017 – City officials on Thursday joined Philadelphia Opportunities Industrialization Center, Inc. (OIC) to announce the arrival of BankWork$, a free eight-week program that prepares economically disadvantaged young people for banking careers. Philadelphia is the first market BankWork$ will serve in the Northeast and the 10th to be served nationwide.

BankWork$ was founded in 2006 by The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation to provide training and mentorship to unemployed, underemployed, and disadvantaged young adults who are interested in establishing careers in the banking industry. In 2016, Council President Darrell L. Clarke (5th District) enlisted the help of regional Wells Fargo representatives to successfully advocate for BankWork$ to expand its program to Philadelphia, which now joins host cities including Los Angeles, Phoenix, Houston, and Chicago.

“When I first learned about BankWork$ in July of last year, I knew immediately that this program would address a critical need for professional development in our most underserved communities,” Council President Clarke said. “I want to thank the team at Wells Fargo for appreciating the urgency for bringing BankWork$ to Philadelphia. The fastest cure for every social ill, from gun violence to poverty, is a good-paying job. I am excited for BankWork$ to begin preparing our young people for banking careers that will allow them to achieve financial stability and give the next generation a strong start.”

Following consultation with Council President Clarke and the Commerce Department, BankWork$ selected Philadelphia OIC to be the training provider here. Thursday’s formal announcement of the partnership at Philadelphia OIC headquarters followed an informational presentation about BankWork$ to regional banks, human resource leaders, and community development professionals.

“BankWork$ has more than 1,500 graduates placed in jobs nationwide,” said BankWork$ Executive Director Colleen Anderson. “That’s more than 1,500 success stories, and we know that that number will continue to grow when you combine Philadelphia’s OIC reach and commitment to the community with BankWork$’s proven success.”

 “Philadelphia OIC has a longstanding history of moving people from welfare to work; and our partnership with BankWork$ allows us to expand our capabilities to help more people,” said Dr. Kevin R. Johnson, President & CEO of Philadelphia OIC.

“The BankWork$ program is aligned with OIC’s mission to create diverse pathways to employment, and assist all people to achieve financial empowerment and self-sufficiency. We will prepare graduates for fulfilling careers in the banking and financial sector; and in many cases, assist people with zero income make a life-sustaining salary of $35,000 and up.”

Also joining city officials at Philadelphia OIC’s headquarters for the announcement were Les Biller, co-founder of the Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation and founder of BankWork$; Greg Redden, Wells Fargo Regional President, who presented a $25,000 check contribution to the Philadelphia program; and Michael Cooper, Senior Vice President & Regional Director of Public Affairs at Citizens Bank.

The free eight-week BankWork$ course trains students on the skills needed to succeed in a career in banking. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, financial activities added 19,000 jobs in April 2017, and so far this year, employment growth in the banking industry has remained in line with its 2016 average increase of 15,000 per month. Overall, employment in banking occupations is projected to grow 8 percent from 2014 to 2024, adding about 632,400 in new jobs.

“The Department of Commerce is proud to serve as a collaborative partner, along with Wells Fargo and OIC, as the BankWork$ program comes to Philadelphia,” said Senior Deputy Commerce Director for Business Development Duane Bumb. “This partnership with BankWork$ is one of many ways we hope to connect residents with resources that will place them on a road to self-sufficiency with family-sustaining wages.”

Councilman Derek S. Green (At-Large), who early in his career worked as a community bank loan officer, added: “Neighborhood banks are integral to communities, where they feature in people’s important milestones such as home purchases and sending kids off to college. Banks offer family-sustaining jobs that people can be proud of. This innovative partnership with BankWork$ will offer disadvantaged Philadelphians a chance to begin careers that will put them on a solid path and afford opportunities to make positive contributions to their communities.”

“BankWork$ provides a solution to two critical needs — it provides individuals with training to qualify for rewarding careers in financial services and it provides companies with a pool of qualified candidates to fill critical positions at the local level,” said Greg Redden of Wells Fargo, which had already committed $1 million to The Biller Family Foundation for BankWork$ before the $25,000 contribution to the Philadelphia program.  “Wells Fargo is proud to collaborate with Philadelphia OIC, BankWork$ and the Office of City Council President Clarke to bring this initiative to the City of Philadelphia.”

The BankWork$ program launched in Los Angeles in 2006, and has since grown to offer classes in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle. In each city, BankWork$ partners with a local nonprofit to offer the free program. The eight-week BankWork$ program, which has a 75% job placement rate following completion, works to equip its graduates with the skills needed to earn in-demand jobs as bank tellers, customer service representatives and personal bankers. Through a series of seminars and lessons taught by banking professionals, program participants will learn about the industry itself, as well as the soft and hard skills that will allow them to earn long-lasting, sustainable careers in the banking industry.

Bank of America, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and the Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation have each pledged their support for a national rollout that will bring the BankWork$ program to 12 to 15 markets by 2019.

The Philadelphia program is set to start in Fall 2017. Those interested in participating can visit the Philadelphia OIC website to learn more.

About BankWork$®

BankWork$ was started in 2006 in Los Angeles by The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation in partnership with regional workforce development leader JVS Los Angeles. As part of a five-year, $4-million national expansion in partnership with Bank of America, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, the program will expand to Atlanta, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Dallas in 2017 and to 15 markets by 2019. For more information, see


About Philadelphia OIC

Philadelphia Opportunities Industrialization Center, Inc. (OIC) is dedicated to the elimination of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy to ensure a meaningful quality of life for families and individuals within Philadelphia. Founded in 1964, on the principles of “helping people to help themselves,” OIC serves as a catalyst, enabling its clients to establish and maintain critical job and life skills through professional development. OIC serves more than 1,300 unduplicated individuals annually. It operates an award-winning hospitality training institute, which trains 200 adults annually and places more than 80 percent of them into employment upon completion. OIC has provided more than 16,000 client visitors basic training in computer and Internet technology since 2011, and operates a one-of-a-kind technology boot camp at two Philadelphia school district high schools, preparing students for STEM careers or college study.

For more information on Philadelphia OIC, visit

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