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Turn90 receives grant from Bank of America for workforce development

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Turn90, a nonprofit that helps men find employment after prison, has been named the 2022 Bank of America Neighborhood Champion in the Columbia and Charleston markets.

As part of the program, Turn90 will receive a total of $100,000 in grant support and the chance to take part in virtual leadership training delivered by experts in the nonprofit sector, according to a news release.

Turn90’s successful pilot site in Charleston has been helping men at the highest risk of re-arrest find success after prison since 2015. The organization doubled its footprint in 2021 with the opening of a second location in Columbia.

Amy Barch, founder and executive director of Turn90, said in the release that she was extremely grateful for the grants because they come at a time when the organization is growing.

“Turn90 is at a critical inflection point in organizational growth as we expand across the state,” Barch said. “Now more than ever, we need the community to stand behind our mission of helping men succeed after prison.”

The Turn90 prison reentry program combines daily life skills classes, full-time transitional work in the program’s screen-printing business, wraparound supportive services and career placement in jobs with livable wages, benefits and opportunities for advancement.

Some of the nonprofit’s past clients have gone on to become staff members.

“The team at Turn90 really wanted to hear about my thoughts and expectations for the future, and they created a bond among all of us as we shared some of our past mistakes but also our many significant triumphs,” said Aulzue “Blue” Fields, a previous Turn90 program participant and current staff member who provides peer support.

“Bank of America remains committed to addressing barriers to economic opportunity and providing resources for skills development and workforce training,” said Kim Wilkerson, president of Bank of America South Carolina. “The impact of Turn90’s work is significant. Having received this Neighborhood Champion recognition in two separate markets with two distinct selection committees is a powerful testament to their critically important work and the high level of success they have achieved.”

Mark Munn, president of Bank of America Charleston, praised the nonprofit’s work in that city.

“It’s important that we direct not only capital but the necessary resources to help position nonprofits like Turn 90 and their leadership team for long-term success,” Munn said.

In Charleston, four nonprofits have been selected as Neighborhood Champions since 2019, with the bank investing $200,000 into these local organizations. Previous recipients include South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development, Metanoia, and Lowcountry Local First.

In Columbia, previous recipients of the grants include Columbia Urban League, Senior Resources, and Central South Carolina Habitat for Humanity.

The invitation-only Neighborhood Champions program is highly competitive, and organizations are selected by a committee comprised of community leaders and past honorees. 

Christina Lee Knauss is a contributing writer for SC Biz News.

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