Students from six Valley cities graduate from BANKWORK$

Graduates at the March BankWork$ ceremony. (Photo by Steve Carr/Special to the Independent)

Thirteen students from six Valley communities focused on building careers in the financial industry graduated June 7 from the BankWork$ program, pushing the total number of graduates to more than 90.

Many graduates chose the eight-week, 168-hour program, funded by financial institutions throughout the Valley and founders The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, “to transition out of lower-paying jobs with little or no upward potential to find a career path that provides long-term financial security for their families,” said BankWork$ Program Coordinator Laura Fisher.

“The impact and reach of the program is growing significantly with more than 350 applications already submitted for consideration in a very competitive process for the next class” which begins July 10.

Of 79 previous graduates so far, 59 have been hired at either post-graduation job fairs or subsequent interviews. Graduation ceremonies were held June 7 at the Emmett McLoughlin Community Training and Education Center, 1150 N. 7th Ave. in Phoenix.

Graduates are Alejandro Castillo, Phoenix; Cynthia Cortez, Phoenix; Virginia Curry, Tempe; Jasmeen Davis, Phoenix; Patricia Dorssom, Phoenix; Natali Flores, Phoenix; Yunes Jaff, Phoenix; Flor Marquez, Buckeye; Ziada Numbe, Glendale; Andrea Olivas, Buckeye; Christina Ramos, Mesa; Virginia Ramos Robles, Goodyear; and LaQuia Roberts, Phoenix.

Arizona Women’s Education and Employment launched the program in 2015 in partnership with BankWork$ and local financial institution partners to deepen its long-time work with adults from low-income and minority communities and those with barriers to employment.

Applications for the next class are now being accepted. Deadline for submission is Friday, June 30.  Classes will be held Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in Central Phoenix and Mesa.  For information and to apply, call 602-223-4349 or visit

BankWork$ classes are free for participants.

The eight-week class provides training in the skills needed for jobs as tellers, customer service representatives and personal bankers. BankWork$ also offers resume building, job interview practice, job placement assistance and ongoing coaching and mentoring to help with career advancement.

Participants must be 18 years or older, have a high school diploma or GED, be fluent in written and spoken English, have basic computer skills and no adult felony convictions.

BankWork$ launched in 2006 in Los Angeles and, by 2019 will be operating in 15 or more cities nationwide. Its $4-million national expansion is funded by Bank of America, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo, which have each pledged $1 million over five years to support the rollout, and by The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation, which founded the program and has also pledged $1 million.

Since its launch, more than 800 BankWork$ graduates have been hired by banks and other financial institutions.

BankWork$ achieves a graduation rate of approximately 75 percent and is placing approximately 70 percent of graduates with partner banks each year. BankWork$ graduates also stay employed in their jobs: retention rates for 2012 BankWork$ graduates showed that 86 percent were employed six months after their hire date and 72 percent one year from their hire date.

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