[Thistle Farms — Press Release] The Bank of America Charitable Foundation has recognized Thistle Farms, a social enterprise for women who have survived prostitution, trafficking and addiction, as part of its Neighborhood Builder® program. The recognition awards high-performing nonprofits that have made a significant impact in the community working in the bank’s priority funding areas of housing, jobs and hunger relief. The Neighborhood Builder program is a strategic investment that pairs leadership training with a $200,000 unrestricted grant over two years so leaders gain valuable skills while applying funding where it is most needed.
“Nonprofits provide much needed services in Nashville but too often lack the opportunity to invest in their own long-term growth and development,” said John Stein, Tennessee president, Bank of America. “By recognizing Thistle Farms as a Neighborhood Builder we know they are poised to make an even greater impact in our community, moving more women from streets and jail to jobs and financial independence.”
Based in Nashville, Thistle Farms is a social enterprise of women who have survived prostitution, trafficking, addiction and life on the streets. By hand the women make body care products with proceeds used to train and permanently employ women at Thistle Farms and its residential program, Magdalene. For two years residents of Magdalene are offered free housing, food, medical and dental treatment, therapy, education and job training. Neither Thistle Farms nor Magdalene utilizes state or federal funding. Seventy percent of residents are leading healthy and sober lives two and a half years after beginning the program.
“Thistle Farms’ model of long-term housing with meaningful employment has drawn more than a hundred cities to Nashville for education and training in the past year,” said Becca Stevens, Executive Director of Thistle Farms. “Becoming a Neighborhood Builder means we can continue to provide workshops to communities throughout the nation committed to healing women. It also provides needed resources to complete the vision of Thistle Farms, including the Thistle Stop Café and a sewing studio. These new departments will employ eight women and be a gathering space for the Nashville community. We are thrilled and grateful.”
According to the Bridgespan Group, Neighborhood Builders is the largest investment in nonprofit leadership development: 2.5 times the next largest program (in spending) and the third largest in number of leaders served. Since 2004, Bank of America has invested more than $165 million through the program, recognized over 730 nonprofits and trained nearly 1,500 nonprofit leaders. The Neighborhood Builders program is a capstone initiative building on the bank’s broader philanthropic commitment to addressing core issues that are critical to the economic vitality of local economies, with a particular focus on low and moderate income communities.
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