Fifth Third Foundation Invests $1 Million into National Urban League Workforce Development Program

Collaborative effort to assist individuals in eight cities earn livable wage

CINCINNATI—The Fifth Third Foundation and the National Urban League today announced a new workforce development program that will provide career advancement opportunities through providing upskilling and re-skilling services to under-employed participants over the course of the next two years. This $1 million investment from the Fifth Third Foundation will help individuals across eight selected affiliate Urban League organizations gain meaningful employment and earn a livable wage.

“We are pleased to deepen our relationship with the National Urban League by establishing an initiative that provides a foundation for individuals to develop and refine their skills,” said Kala Gibson, Fifth Third’s head of business banking and chief enterprise corporate responsibility officer who also serves as a National Urban League board member. “Programs that address career readiness are fundamental to leveling the playing field and giving marginalized individuals a better chance to succeed.”

Studies show that, before COVID-19’s devastating impact on the economy, occupations and industries such as retail, hospitality and food services were vulnerable to workplace changes such as increased automation. Those same studies also showed that these jobs offered no pathway to career advancement and were overrepresented by low-wage workers of color.

“Low-wage workers, already struggling before COVID-19, were made even more vulnerable by the pandemic. With strategic intervention from opportunities such as the Workforce Development Program, these individuals can find a pathway to economic stability,” said Marc H. Morial, National Urban League President and CEO. “Fifth Third Foundation’s funding of this program along with Fifth Third Bank’s collaboration with the National Urban League will create brighter financial outcomes for those most in need as we move into a post-pandemic world.”

The program will be offered in Charlotte, North Carolina; Chicago; Cincinnati, Cleveland and Dayton, Ohio; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Indianapolis; Louisville, Kentucky, and Nashville, Tennessee. The affiliate cities were selected as a result of their experience and the strength of their career advancement employment-opportunity programs, the number of local underemployed and unemployed workers, and strong community partnerships.

The program will provide career counseling services and connect participants to career advancement credentialing and certification opportunities. It also will provide training through the following existing offerings:

  • The Urban Apprenticeship Jobs Program, which creates employment opportunities in communities with historically high numbers of underemployed and underutilized workers through registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. This program focuses on those in the wireless infrastructure, construction, telecommunications, information technology, manufacturing, transportation and health care industries.
  • The Urban Reentry Program, which provides formerly incarcerated adults with the necessary skills and training to successfully reenter the job market with positions that pay a living wage and that can potentially lead to a career.
  • Urban Tech Jobs Program, which trains unemployed individuals for middle-skill occupations in the Information Technology (IT) sector. By placing unemployed participants into entry-level IT positions and coupling the work with training, participants can progress to higher-wage occupations. This program offers assessments, job readiness and resiliency curriculum, enrollment into tech training courses and certification examination fee coverage.
  • The Urban Youth Program, an evidence-based program with a focus on education and employment for youths aged 16 to 24 who have either experienced the criminal justice system or who are disadvantaged. This program involves career readiness and occupational skills training, educational interventions, case management, paid internships and mentorships.

Nila Kennedy-Young, a 17-year-old participant in the Urban Youth Empowerment program in Cincinnati, said the job readiness and professional development training that she has experienced are preparing her for the future. “I’ve learned interviewing skills and how to budget my finances. I will use what I’ve learned as I prepare to go to college, enter the workforce and manage money.” She said the Urban League staff and coaches were helpful. “Some people don’t have a support system but the entire workforce team was so supportive and encouraging. They were easy to talk to and understanding. They would tell us, “once an Urban Leaguer, always an Urban Leaguer” and we knew they cared about us.”

“Providing dollars to initiatives like the workforce development program shows the continued dedication of the Fifth Third Foundation to provide solutions for social issues such as unemployment and underemployment,” said Heidi Jark, senior vice president and managing director, Foundation Office at Fifth Third Bank.

Fifth Third Foundation’s investment is part of the Fifth Third’s $2.8 billion Accelerating Racial Equality, Equity and Inclusion initiative that was introduced in 2020 with a specific focus on Black employees, customers and communities. The workforce development program directly aligns with the community workstream of the AREEI strategy and demonstrates Fifth Third’s commitment to social justice and advocacy work that provides greater access to jobs and skills for minority and low-wage workers.

To learn more about the National Urban League’s Workforce Development Program, please visit: To learn more about Fifth Third’s Accelerating Racial Equality, Equity and Inclusion initiative, please visit:

About the Fifth Third Foundation
Established in 1948, the Fifth Third Foundation was one of the first charitable foundations created by a financial institution. The Fifth Third Foundation supports worthy causes in the areas of health and human services, education, community development and the arts in the states where Fifth Third Bank operates.

About the National Urban League
The National Urban League is a historic civil rights organization dedicated to economic empowerment in order to elevate the standard of living in historically underserved urban communities. The National Urban League spearheads the efforts of its 90 local affiliates through the development of programs, public policy research and advocacy, providing direct services that impact and improve the lives of more than 2 million people annually nationwide. Visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @NatUrbanLeague.

About Fifth Third
Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the indirect parent company of Fifth Third Bank, National Association, a federally chartered institution. As of June 30, 2021, the Company had $205 billion in assets and operates 1,096 full-service Banking Centers, and 2,369 Fifth Third branded ATMs in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. In total, Fifth Third provides its customers with access to approximately 53,000 fee-free ATMs across the United States. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Commercial Banking, Branch Banking, Consumer Lending, and Wealth & Asset Management. Fifth Third is among the largest money managers in the Midwest and, as of June 30, 2021, had $483 billion in assets under care, of which it managed $61 billion for individuals, corporations and not-for-profit organizations through its Trust and Registered Investment Advisory businesses. Investor information and press releases can be viewed at Fifth Third’s common stock is traded on the NASDAQ® Global Select Market under the symbol “FITB.