Bank of America philanthropy benefits indigenous MCC students 

$150,000 grant supports college success and university transfers

MESA, Arizona – May 7, 2021 – Indigenous Mesa Community College (MCC) students are beneficiaries of a generous $150,000 grant from Bank of America awarded through the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation as part of the bank’s overall efforts to advance economic opportunity and racial equality. The grant makes emergency funding available to MCC students for the spring and fall 2021 semesters, allows for the development of Virtual Programming to inform and interact with students online, and provides educational stipends for university transfers.

“The economic needs in tribal communities continue to be a challenge that we, as a society, need to address,” said Benito Almanza, Arizona president for Bank of America. “These challenges have been further exacerbated by the coronavirus, and there is an urgent need to invest in tribal education, as well as native-owned small businesses and health care - to help mitigate some of the enormous economic and health risks these communities currently face and open doors to greater racial equality and economic opportunity.”

Many indigenous students are still reeling from job loss in their family, death and illness of loved ones and social unrest. To help, $60,000 is dedicated to providing emergency funding to support up to 120 students ($500 each per semester). Funds may be used for necessities such as food, transportation, technology needs and textbooks.

Marina J. Notah, a Navajo tribal member, received support to complete this semester. “Upon receiving the news that I was receiving support, I was ecstatic because it meant that my internet bill would be covered for the rest of the semester. I am one step closer to becoming a marine biologist.”

Zoe Irwin, a member of the Rosebud Sioux tribe, received support to enroll in classes for the fall semester. “Thanks to the Bank of America grant I am able to continue to move forward in working towards my Speech-Language Pathology degree."

An MCC American Indian Institute Virtual Program is being developed for indigenous students with $36 thousand of the funds. The program will help students stay engaged with their studies, connect to each other and the campus community through online events and activities supporting college success.

“Bank of America’s commitment and dedication to supporting the needs of indigenous MCC students is making a direct and transformational impact on their ability to complete their educational journeys,” said Jim Larney, MCC American Indian Institute director. “We know in working with our students even prior to the pandemic, that their basic needs are often not met and that transferring to a university to earn a higher degree is often hindered because of the lack of financial resources.”

Indigenous students make up 3.4% of the MCC student body and is a segment of our population that is experiencing additional struggles to remain engaged in their education during the pandemic. This additional funding means that indigenous students completing an associate’s degree at MCC in 2021 may be eligible to receive $2,000 to continue their studies at a university.

This initiative is one of the many ways MCC is able to fulfill its strategic priorities and values of diversity, equity and inclusion. Additionally, it addresses the MCCCD strategic commitments to build a thriving community through access and student success, and to be a driving force for economic and workforce development in Arizona. “In this time of great pivots, we all are navigating through challenges with innovation and creativity,” said Christos Chronis, MCC chief development officer. “Bank of America has been an outstanding partner, investing in the lives of indigenous students so they can grow, learn, and thrive. We are truly appreciative of their support and partnership.”

To participate, students must be affiliated with an indigenous tribe, enrolled in at least three credit hours at MCC, pursuing a certificate or degree, and have a minimum of a 2.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale). Students receiving emergency funding are required to attend a minimum of three Aii-hosted workshops or become an active member in an MCC student club such as the Inter-Tribal Student Organization, or the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.

Bank of America has provided critical financial services to Native American governments and territories for more than 60 years, and is also the largest investor in Native American Community Development Financial Institutions, with more than $1.6 billion in capital. The company recently announced a $60 million fund for Black, Indigenous and People of Color affordable housing developers to help facilitate racial equality in housing.

Learn more about the American Indian Institute at MCC at

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Media contacts:
Mesa Community College – Dawn Zimmer,, 480-461-7892
Bank of America – Britney Sheehan,, 425.466.0378

Bank of America is guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. We’re delivering on this through responsible growth with a focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across our eight lines of business and reflects how we 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 we create for our employees, the responsible products and services we offer our clients, and the impact we 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 our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact. Learn more at Learn more at, and connect with us on Twitter (@BofA_News).

The Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation (MCCF), with its donors and partners, supports the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD), its students, faculty, and staff through scholarships, programs, equipment, and financial and human capital. MCCF is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization designated by MCCCD to receive and manage gifts on behalf of its 10 colleges. Visit to learn more.

Mesa Community College is nationally recognized as an Aspen Prize Top 150 U.S. Community College and is known for service learning, career and technical programs, civic engagement and innovative approaches to education. For more than 50 years, the college has served as a resource for career readiness, transfer education, workforce development and lifelong learning. Host to more than 30,000 students annually, MCC offers degree and certificate programs at its two campuses, additional locations and a combination of online formats. Through Guided Pathways with Integrated Support Services and a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, MCC is transforming how it champions student success, college completion, university transfer and career attainment and advancement. MCC is a Hispanic Serving Institution and nearly 50% of its students are the first in their families to attend college. Its American Indian Institute serves students from the 22 federally recognized tribes of Arizona as well as out-of-state tribes. MCC has the largest indigenous student population of all the Maricopa Community Colleges. The diverse student body includes more than 300 international students from 55 countries. Award-winning faculty are dedicated to student success, providing the education and training that empowers MCC students to successfully transfer to a university or compete in the workforce. Located in the East Valley of Phoenix, Arizona, on the traditional territories of the O'odham, Piipaash and Yavapai Peoples, MCC is one of 10 colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District. Visit to learn more.

MCC is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC),

The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is an EEO/AA institution and an equal opportunity employer of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or national origin. A lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and participation in the career and technical education programs of the District. MCCCD does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability or age in its programs or activities. For Title IX/504 concerns, call the following number to reach the appointed coordinator: (480) 731-8499. For additional information, as well as a listing of all coordinators within the Maricopa College system, visit

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Publication Date: 
Friday, May 7, 2021