The Los Angeles Rams and Bank of America teamed up with LA-based nonprofits Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) and The RightWay Foundation to provide two formerly incarcerated young adults with paid fellowship experiences and second chances to build a better future.
The sixth month Rams Fellows Program provides onsite working experiences across various Rams' departments including Football Operations, Partnership Sales, Partnership Marketing, Community Impact and Rams Studios.
"Providing access and opportunity for our at-risk youth and young adults is at the core of the Rams' community efforts and we are thankful that Bank of America shares those same values," said Molly Higgins, Rams Vice President of Community Impact and Engagement. "Juan and Kenzo were outstanding additions to our team last season and inspiring reminders that when we leverage our platform in creative ways, we can help change life trajectories. After seeing their powerful stories, our hope is that other organizations will want to join the effort to provide formerly incarcerated individuals with a second chance to redefine their future."
The Rams Fellows program was created jointly by the Rams and Bank of America and is designed to support young adults from under-resourced communities by providing access to mentorship and workforce experience to develop critical job skills, a professional network and career pathways. Bank of America's funding not only provides monthly stipends to the fellows, but also covers the costs of corporate housing, subsidized transportation, and financial education coaches for each fellow. Over the past two years, both organizations have worked with Brotherhood Crusade, Anti-Recidivism Coalition and The RightWay Foundation to identify candidates for this unique opportunity.
"The partnership between Bank of America and the LA Rams not only opens doors to work experience and a paycheck, but it goes above and beyond that," said Raul A. Anaya, president of Bank of America Greater Los Angeles, and president of Business Banking. "By connecting these talented young adults with mentors and a nonprofit partner that provides important wraparound services, they can more readily overcome barriers to success at work and in life."
The new short film "Redefined," produced by Rams Studios and available on therams.com/Redefined, highlights the journeys of the most recent fellows - Juan Camacho and Kenzo Sohoue - and how they have taken steps forward to redefine their lives.
- Juan Camacho hails from Long Beach, Calif., and was separated from his mother at a young age before entering into the foster care system where he was then separated from his siblings. He lived with more than 10 different families in a span of four years and was incarcerated for more than a decade. Juan connected with ARC upon his release and explored employment opportunities including the fellowship program with the Rams.
- Kenzo Sohoue grew up in Cameroon, Africa, before coming to the United States. Once he arrived in the U.S., he battled homelessness and lived in housing shelters with his mother, who eventually left him on his own. Upon release from incarceration, Kenzo worked with ARC to enroll in college courses and discover hobbies and passions that develop transferrable skills for future work opportunities.
This program is one of the Rams' social justice programs aimed at inspiring change with a focus on providing access and opportunity and driving equity. Through various initiatives, the Rams work to address issues of poverty that disproportionately impact communities of color including education inequities, housing and food insecurities, youth mentorship and community-police relations.
As part of Bank of America's ongoing commitment to youth employment, more than 27,000 summer jobs and paid internships have been funded since 2011 for teens and young adults from disadvantaged backgrounds across the country. Programing is focused on connecting young people predominantly from communities of color to impactful jobs, skills-building, networking, and mentorship opportunities.