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Opinion: Bank of America Student Leaders program leads to long-term success

Over eight weeks this summer, as participants in the Bank of America Student Leaders program, we were given the opportunity to work with nonprofit organizations in our respective cities. Through our work with the Youth Volunteer Corps in Kansas City and the United Way of Greater St. Louis, we grew as individuals and learned so much invaluable information. We were able to work on projects and participate in activities both in-person and virtually. One focus area was witnessing discussions and engagement with staff to see how nonprofit organizations map regional data buckets pertaining to organizations. Another focus area was contributing to organizational activities such as devising a questionnaire to help feature board members in the monthly newsletter and stuffing backpacks with school supplies for families in need of support. Special highlights included participating in a day of service at the Jewish Community Center and being engaged in agency virtual site visits with the Center for Women in Transition, which provides comprehensive services for women reentering the community from prison.

With the United Way of Greater St. Louis, Alexia worked alongside mentors that shared the organization’s efforts to help create a strong safety net of nonprofits to meet the vast needs of the community, so neighbors always have a place to turn to for help. With the Youth Volunteer Corp of Kansas City, Emmanuel helped engage youth in team-based service experiences that build life and work skills while inspiring a lifetime ethic of service to the community.​​

One of the best parts of the Student Leaders program was learning how to adapt to problems and learn new skills such as communication and leadership, all while being a rising senior or recent graduate of high school. Through this internship, we acquired new learnings which will lead us to long-term success, such as receiving training in certain areas that coincide with tasks we’ll be assigned in future careers, developing our skills to a higher level, and being trusted to complete important projects that benefit the goals of United Way of Greater St. Louis and the Youth Volunteer Corps of Kansas City. 

The Student Leaders program has brought so much value to our array of skills. Communication, teamwork, and networking were all things we knew are important, but really understanding how meaningful they are is what brings success to former Bank of America Student Leaders. Working as a team versus as individuals brought us together and ensured that each Student Leader from Kansas City and St. Louis were confident in the work we did.  

Working with nonprofit organizations in our respective cities has given us a sense of what it takes to build a positive society and how our roles ultimately contribute to the larger impact in the community. As high school students and recent graduates, we are entering the next chapters of our lives with beneficial skills we know will translate to the workforce. 

In addition to the skills developed at the nonprofits, we were also involved in a week-long virtual leadership summit. Through the summit, business and nonprofit leaders on the national stage encouraged and inspired us to increase our civic participation. We engaged in a simulation of possibilities for poverty alleviation and took part in a debate on the societal impact of social media through the Deliberative Democracy Lab at Stanford University. To close out the week, we experienced a virtual ‘Capitol Hill Day’ where we met with senators and representatives to discuss what a day in the life is like for congressional members, as well as get a broader perspective on the daily lives of their constituents. 

The ability to have a paid summer internship while at the same time gaining valuable life skills was a rewarding experience in so many ways. We encourage St. Louis and Kansas City area high school juniors and seniors to consider exploring this great opportunity by applying to become a Bank of America Student Leader in 2023.