By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Two Philadelphia nonprofits got some deserved recognition today — and a big financial boost — from the charitable arm of a huge banking conglomerate.

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The Bank of America Charitable Foundation gave two of  its “Neighborhood Builders” awards, each accompanied by a $200,000 check, to Tech Impact and the People’s Emergency Center.

Tech Impact provides information technology support for nonprofits, as well as free, immersive IT training to underserved young adults.

“It’s a sixteen-week program and they go through training for the first eleven weeks and after that we actually work to get them in a work environment,” explains Patrick Calihan of Tech Impact.   He says the $200,000 grant they received today will mean more free training through its “IT Works” program.

And more training means higher-paying jobs for many whose only previous option would have been working in retail or fast food.

“Having that opportunity to work with different equipment like Cisco and stuff was an awesome opportunity,” says William Kendima, who attended the program and is now at a high-profile IT firm.   “It really helped me regain the passion I had for technology.”

The $200,000 grants are unrestricted,  which means awardees can use the money however they wish.

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Today’s other honoree, the People’s Emergency Center, will use the money to get the word out that they’re more than just a shelter, according to executive director Farah Jimenez (at lectern in top photo), “so when people come to us  they understand they will be able to take advantage of a full range of services.”

PEC has worked to revitalize more than 140 blighted properties in West Philadelphia and provides transitional housing and numerous life skills educational programs to the families they serve, as well as to the broader community.  Included in its programs is “pop-up” technology centers that provide community access to laptops and tablets.

(Residents of PEC's Rowan House, in West Philadelphia, use a pop-up tech lab during today's award ceremonies.  Photo by Cherri Gregg)

(Residents of PEC’s Rowan House, in West Philadelphia, use a pop-up tech lab during today’s award ceremonies. Photo by Cherri Gregg)


“I am thrilled with what this means for PEC,” said Jimenez.

Over the past ten years Bank of America has awarded more than $160 million in Neighborhood Builders Awards.

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