Baltimore, Md. – Bank of America today announced a $100,000 contribution to the University of Maryland School of Nursing to support its school-based health care program. The program will provide primary and mental health care services for more than 1,500 students at Kelson, Pinderhughes and Gilmor elementary schools, located in the Sandtown-Winchester community in West Baltimore.
"A significant portion of our corporate giving budget is spent on programs that enhance educational opportunities for young people," said William Couper, president, Bank of America Greater Baltimore. "This program enables us to support education and health care at the same time, which is important because access to adequate health care directly impacts student attendance and performance."
Since 1994, the University of Maryland School of Nursing has been involved in the development of school-based health centers in Sandtown-Winchester. In this community, issues such as lack of childcare and transportation have traditionally hindered the ability of parents to secure health care for their children. The goal of the school-based centers is to improve the health of these students through immediate access to primary care. The results of this effort include decreasing absenteeism and behavioral episodes in the classroom, while improving overall school performance.
Students at the three elementary schools receive care from faculty nurse practitioners from the University of Maryland School of Nursing who oversee the school-based wellness centers in Sandtown-Winchester, as well as at 11 other sites throughout the state. Services at the centers include diagnosis, treatment and management of most illnesses and chronic conditions, such as asthma, diabetes and Attention Deficit Disorder, in addition to screening, lab testing, immunizations and health education.
"Children can't learn if they are not healthy, and they can't stay healthy without accessible and affordable health care," says Dr. Barbara R. Heller, Dean, University of Maryland School of Nursing. "Financial support from Bank of America has enabled the School of Nursing to expand its services and help ensure that these students are healthier and better able to focus on learning."
Children in this West Baltimore community of 10,000 residents, 80 percent of whom live below the poverty line, perform significantly below the average on standardized tests. The dropout and absenteeism rate is alarmingly high, while the mortality rate from diseases that are largely preventable and treatable continues to climb.
"The fact is, if we don't provide medical care right here at the school, many of our children would be forced to do without it," said Joyce Hughes, principal of Kelson Elementary School. "This program is vital to our community."
The Bank of America Foundation contributes financial assistance to nonprofit institutions and organizations that enhance the quality of life and promote public interest in the areas where the company conducts its business. The foundation's primary focus is education, and other major areas of giving include health and human services, community development, and arts and culture.
In the Greater Baltimore area, Bank of America has contributed more than $5 million to hundreds of organizations over the past two years. In 1999, the Bank of America Foundation budget was $100 million, which represents the largest philanthropic budget of any financial institution in the United States.
Bank of America, with $633 billion in assets, is the largest bank in the United States. The company serves more than 30 million households and two million businesses across the country, offering customers the largest and most convenient delivery network from offices and ATMs to telephone and internet access.