Ana Melara Glenn
Partnerships are key to Opportunity Fund’s ability to expand our reach to underserved small business owners and boost our impact, so we can meet our ambitious strategic plan goals. We are fortunate to count Bank of America as a 20-year partner, supporting our vision of a truly inclusive financial system. During FY2018, Bank of America enabled Opportunity Fund to provide responsible capital to California’s diverse entrepreneurs through awards totaling $287,500, contributing to our overall lending volume of 3,000 new loans.
Leading the way in support of women entrepreneurs, the bank’s capital deployment through the Tory Burch Foundation provided Opportunity Fund with $200,000 to help women entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses, enabling us to direct specific funds for this widely underserved population. By referring this client to Opportunity Fund—further evidence of our strong relationship—Bank of America helped us provide responsible capital to clients like Suzi Zappardo, owner of Dancing Images Dance Center of Moreno Valley, through the Tory Burch Foundation.
Students and teachers at the Dancing Images Dance Center
Bank of America also awarded Opportunity Fund $77,500 in regional grants for our small business lending in Silicon Valley, the Bay Area, Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, and Los Angeles counties, as well as first time funding of Monterey and Santa Cruz counties’ underserved entrepreneurs. As a committed funder, Bank of America helps us to make responsible loans available to diverse small business owners in every corner of the state—with a focus on low- and moderate- income, minority and women entrepreneurs—who may become more vulnerable to high-cost alternative lending when conventional loans are out of reach.
Last Fall, as we launched the Founder’s Fund honoring Opportunity Fund Founder and former CEO Eric Weaver’s leadership, passion, and singular vision to build resilient and more equitable communities, Bank of America responded with a $10,000 gift, helping to close the opportunity gap for thousands more entrepreneurs who lack the resources, but not the resolve, to succeed in their business ventures.
Our partnership benefits small business owners who are left out, like Suzi who has owned Dancing Images Dance Center in Moreno Valley for nearly 22 years. Her center is a 6,000-square-foot facility comprised of four fully-equipped dance studios including raised wood floors, a state of the art sound system and observation windows for parents to view the classes. She and her part-time staff of nine offer ballet, jazz, hip hop dance and fitness classes to students from ages three to adult. When she needed working capital to invest in her dance center, Suzi reached out to Bank of America who referred her to Opportunity Fund Loan Consultant, Osbaldo Velazquez. He helped Suzi apply for a $14,000 loan, so she and her team can continue bringing the latest dance moves, discipline and rhythm to their clients throughout the Inland Valley.
Since 1998, Bank of America has awarded Opportunity Fund more than $1.5 million in grants, in addition to referring to Opportunity Fund its clients who are unable to qualify for conventional lending. We are grateful for Bank America’s support, trust and investment in our mission.