When Gonzalo Aguilar graduated from high school in 2007, he — like many other young adults — didn’t know what he wanted to do for a living.
“I graduated from an inner city school with less opportunity than others,” Aguilar said. “I knew I needed to start somewhere. I started working at a fast food restaurant, but I told myself, ‘This is not for me.’”
So when his sibling gave him a flyer about BankWork$®, a free training program that helps adults in underserved communities prepare for careers in the financial services industry, he enrolled. Eight years later, Aguilar is a service manager at a Wells Fargo branch in Los Angeles.
The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation started BankWork$ in 2006 as a partnership with JVS Los Angeles, a nonprofit dedicated to workforce development. Since then, nearly 1,200 students have graduated from the Los Angeles program, and more than 2,100 students have graduated from the program in its locations across the country. BankWork$ has placed about 1,550 graduates in jobs within the financial services industry, most of which have been in Southern California.
BankWork$ teaches students about working in a corporate environment; soft skills like active listening, customer service, and empathy; the history and basics of banking; writing a resume; and preparing for job interviews.
Aguilar said BankWork$ gave him the confidence to start his banking career and the drive to grow professionally. “Nine years ago, I honestly didn’t see myself here,” he said. “I’m really grateful for BankWork$ and the opportunities the program gave me.”