Bank of America and West London Zone – a shared vision and an innovative approach to philanthropy

Thanks to a trailblazing approach to private commissioning, Bank of America’s commitment of $1m supports the delivery of the West London Zone programme to 1,000 children, enabling us to continue providing the right support, to the right children, at the right time

  • We recently attended the Bank of America UK Philanthropy Partner event to familiarise employees with our work and the impact Bank of America is having on the West London Zone programme
  • In 2019, Bank of America became the UK’s first private commissioner of education outcomes, with a $1m commitment to fund delivery of our programme to 1,000 children over three years
  • The opportunities we have been afforded and impact we have seen as part of our work together are testament to an innovative funding model and the strength of collaboration

LEGO and Play-Doh – objects you would not typically find at a philanthropy event. However, they recently brought the West London Zone and Bank of America teams together, as a way for us to raise awareness of the vital work that is being delivered through Bank of America’s pioneering role as a private commissioner. 

Bank of America’s UK Philanthropy Partner event

In September, we were given the opportunity to engage with the wider Bank of America community through attendance at their UK Philanthropy Partner event, where employees could find out more about all the organisations that have a philanthropic relationship with the bank. We wanted visitors to the West London Zone stand to leave feeling informed and inspired about the work that the bank is doing with us.

We spoke to Bank of America employees about the communities in which we work and how the bank is supporting our work

As if a $1 million commitment to support our programme of positive social impact on young people wasn't enough, their involvement has also included; senior Bank of America members volunteering their time to share their data analysis skills to support our data collection efforts; donating tickets and visits that are enjoyed by young people on our programme during our holiday activities; and providing staff training and general organisational support opportunities. 

But what did Play-Doh have to do with it?

Integral to the work we do – supporting young people to build their confidence, develop new skills, and get on track to thrive – are our schools-based Link Workers. Not only do they act as mentors to these young people, but they tailor the programme to their specific needs. This involves coordinating specialist support from our delivery partners – ranging from maths tuition to circus training – but also delivering their own sessions, which sometimes include LEGO therapy and Play-Doh modelling to develop communication, dexterity, and team-building skills.

LEGO and Play-Doh models of London landmarks on a map of London

Link Workers sessions sometimes involve Play-Doh and LEGO to develop communication, dexterity and team building skills

It isn’t all fun and games

These were, we felt, the perfect tools to introduce Bank of America employees to our programme, as well as to the impact of our wider relationship and collective vision. Bank of America’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) programme drives economic and social progress by building communities that thrive. Together, we provide pioneering, early intervention support for children and families, identified through data, knowledge, and insights, to ensure all children in our community can get access to the opportunities they need to thrive.

Bonding over our Social Impact Bond

In 2018, Bank of America awarded a grant to financially support the development of our Social Impact Bond (SIB) model. SIBs are an outcome-based contract with the public sector or governing authority which ultimately improves social outcomes for vulnerable groups. These create partnerships between the public, private and voluntary sectors to help solve intersectional challenges that can’t be addressed through conventional means.

The SIB allows us to plan ahead and commit to delivering two-year plans for every child. It also means that approximately £1 in philanthropy unlocks £1 in public sector funding -- at a time when education, SEN (Special Educational Needs), health, crime and council budgets have never been tighter, we are committed to making our income go further. Furthermore, our data driven and evidence-led model drives collaboration and ensures accountability for who we work with, as well as transparency on what we deliver and how the children progress.

Year 2 child receiving maths support from his Link Worker, who not only acts as a mentor but creates a two-year programme of support

In 2019, Bank of America became the UK’s first private commissioner of education outcomes, through a commitment of $1 million to fund the delivery of the West London Zone programme to 1,000 children, through our outcomes-based SIB.

The support for outcomes-based investment 

We are only able to access these funds from the DCMS Life Chances Fund through the social outcomes commissioning partnership we have with Bank of America.

From Spring 2022, Bank of America grant funding began to include specific alignment with Early Years students. Since piloting and developing our Early Years programme, which aims to target at-risk children even earlier in their journeys, we are now able to incorporate this formally into our business model. This work is now funded through the SIB, supported by both philanthropic and public sources that pay predominantly on the achievement of specific milestones. Significantly, of the seven school nurseries we worked with in 2020/2021, six are now paying for the service. This is an excellent endorsement given they have not been charged for the service previously.

Our Early Years programme has been incorporated into our wider model, meaning we can support young people even earlier 

Acknowledging a milestone moment

As our teams work hard to identify and begin the support of young people this Autumn term, it is important to take a minute to recognise the meeting of a momentous milestone.

As of September 2022, there are 1,675 children, young people, and their families within the West London Zone system of support, meaning we have worked with over 3,300 young people since our pilot in 2015. We have successfully reached our wider strategic delivery goals.

Of this, the 2022/23 academic year has confirmed 192 new sign-ups directly supported by Bank of America, bringing the total number of young people directly supported by the bank to 1,000 – a significant milestone as outlined by their $1m commitment to our programme. These new young people will finish their personalised two-year programme in Summer 2024.

We are excited to continue to share the results of the amazing work our partnership with Bank of America is achieving. Sign up to the newsletter to stay updated on the latest.

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together, every child and young person can flourish.