Bank Of America Connects Minneapolis-St. Paul Area Youth To Workforce Success Through Virtual Summer Leadership Experience

By Bruceanne Phillips






Bank of America today announced that the four Twin Cities high school students selected as Student Leaders (#BofAStudentLeaders) are in the midst of their summer experience of leadership, civic engagement, and workforce skills-building.  Student Leaders, one of Bank of America’s signature philanthropic programs, has been part of the bank’s ongoing commitment to youth employment and economic mobility in the Twin Cities. Preparing a diverse pipeline of community-minded young people with the leadership training they need to be successful in the workforce is vital to responsible growth in Minnesota and helps to build thriving communities.

The Class of 2020 Twin Cities-based Bank of America Student Leaders are:

  • Esperanza Lee, Minneapolis, rising senior at Woodbury High School
  • Nelsy Torres, Maplewood, rising senior at North High School
  • Dawson Clifton, Anoka, rising senior at Andover High school, enrolled in PSEO at Anoka Ramsey Community College
  • Chittra Xiong, St. Paul, graduate from Como Park Senior High School

In light of the global pandemic, Student Leaders, which typically encompasses in-person internships at local nonprofits, has been adapted to a virtual format, through which students have had the opportunity to participate in sessions that exposed them to the vital role that nonprofits play in advancing community health, the importance of public private partnerships to advance social change, and a focus on building financial acumen.

The Twin Cities Student Leaders are participating in programming that leverages Bank of America’s national partnerships and expertise and have worked closely with the bank’s Minneapolis-St. Paul leadership and nonprofit partners.

“Now more than ever, as we collectively navigate the challenges we face in our communities, we remain committed to supporting youth and young adults of all backgrounds by connecting them to jobs, skills-building and leadership development,” said Katie Simpson, Minneapolis-St. Paul Market President, Bank of America. “Creating opportunities for our youth to gain skills and build a network is a powerful investment in the future of our community.”

The Student Leaders are participating in a collaborative, story-telling project on behalf of Hennepin Theatre Trust to amplify the voices of youth in our community. In addition, they are engaging in conversations focused on social justice, civil rights and how to build a more diverse and inclusive society.  They also have had the opportunity to gain a better understanding of their personal finances through Better Money Habits®, Bank of America’s financial wellness and education platform.

“In the fifth year of our partnership on the Student Leaders program with Bank of America, we’re seeing the resiliency of this next generation of leaders is more apparent than ever,” said Mark Nerenhausen, President/CEO at Hennepin Theatre Trust. “While the students are not physically interning with us this summer, their work on a story-telling project for the Trust is instrumental in sharing the power the arts have to impact peoples’ lives in the Twin Cities.”

Bringing students from across the country together in order to discuss the role of citizenship and how cross sector collaboration creates community impact is a core component of the Student Leaders program. This year, 300 students are gathering virtually for the Young Democracy at Home program, delivered by the Close Up Foundation, which includes discussions around finding one’s voice in order to effect change, and pressing policy issues such as the economy, healthcare, the environment and immigration.

In the wake of significant job losses nationwide, the ability to earn a paycheck will be essential to many young people whether they are helping to support their families or planning for the future. As part of their Student Leader experience, each student will receive a $5,000 stipend to recognize them for their community achievements.

Bank of America
Bank of America is guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. They’re delivering on this through responsible growth with a focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across their eight lines of business and reflects how they help fuel the global economy, build trust and credibility, and represent a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It’s demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace they create for their employees, the responsible products and services they offer their clients, and the impact they make around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organizations, to bring together their collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact. Learn more at, and connect with them on Twitter (@BofA_News).

Hennepin Theatre Trust drives cultural and economic vitality in Minnesota through leadership of the dynamic Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis and educational programming that reaches every area of the state. It’s historic theatres – Orpheum, State and Pantages – and new event center at 900 Hennepin light up Hennepin Avenue with top-tier entertainment, including the best of Broadway and a wide variety of arts programming. Hennepin Theatre Trust is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Learn more at

Esperanza Lee, Nelsy Torres, Dawson Clifton, Chittra Xiong