Bank of America says it remains committed to strengthening the communities it serves and one way the financial institution does that is through supporting local workforce development and education initiatives.
With $150,000 in grant funding from Bank of America, The Lazarus Rite can now expand efforts to meet workforce needs in the region through job readiness and skill certification, providing stable employment for formerly incarcerated individuals and helping to reduce recidivism.
“The funding will help The Lazarus Rite expand its Commercial Driver License (CDL) training capacity, repairing its first bus and adding a second bus to the fleet, and aid in acquiring equipment to begin heavy equipment training,” Janet Currie, president at Bank of America Greater Maryland, wrote in an email.
Currie added that the bank had awarded more than $2 million in grant dollars to 57 organizations in Maryland last year.
Those funds helped increase economic opportunity and long-term financial stability in the state.
“The Lazarus Rite’s unique work in Baltimore City addresses workforce development opportunities for individuals who have previously been incarcerated, which aligns with our efforts to help individuals overcome barriers to employment,” Currie noted. “At a time when the supply chain and logistics industry is facing increased strain and is understaffed, the organization is helping to create a pipeline of workers from Baltimore City, while also giving individuals an opportunity to change their trajectory in life.”
Additionally, Currie said Ervin’s leadership helped the bank’s decision to fund the grant.
“Chris focuses on creating peer-to-peer connections that build a supportive community among participants and graduates. He is also building employment partnerships to ensure that employment is waiting for graduates,” Currie continued. “We believe his vision and holistic approach has led to increased workplace opportunities for the individuals Lazarus Rite serves, as well as a stronger Baltimore City.”
Ervin recalled his initial reaction to the generous grant.
“Thankful but hopeful,” Ervin said. “I truly believe that Bank of America sees the real-time, right now impact, but also the long-term growth effects and a result of the investment. To be able to plant the seeds now but cultivate exponential growth in the future,” he remarked.
The Lazarus Rite, Inc. was created by the life experiences of Ervin, who attended Christian-based schools.
Ervin remembered the story of Lazarus but said he left school and returned to an inner-city community “where I saw people who did not receive second Chances or support.”
“So little access or opportunities afforded to so many who needed exactly that. And then I faced incarceration myself,” Ervin said. “While I had the acumen and ability to overcome the stigma, I also saw so many who needed the structured guidance that an intentionally created program could provide. And so that pathway became The Lazarus Rite, Inc.”
Ervin said repairing the nonprofit’s first bus is necessary for safety reasons and for continuing operating and being sentimental toward the program’s values of rejuvenation and worth.
“The bus has what it takes to be of continued value and service and just needs the attention of repair and reconstitution,” Ervin said. “Much like the people who will benefit from it. To be able to add a second will obviously double our output but also us to begin to explore our offerings for high school-aged participants,” he said.
Ervin concluded that The Lazarus Rite, Inc. has only scratched the surface of what they intend to offer.
“We fully intend to grow to become the first full-service reentry academy in the country. Unfortunately, too many in need have the best intentions and effort but are lost in the cracks as they are sent all over cities and towns for signatures and appearances that can be localized to a single location,” Ervin said. “In creating this single location, we will also be expanding our offering beyond CDL B to CDL A and heavy equipment operation. Fields that go hand in hand in the working world that is recession and pandemic proof. Regarding the grant, we are incredibly grateful for the trust that we have a viable effort worth believing in.”
For more information about The Lazarus Rite, visit: www.thelazarusrite.org or call 410-844-9300.