Bank of America Donates $50,000 to JVS at BankWork$™ Graduation

October 17, 2012 -- A new group of skilled and job-ready bank tellers met a roomful of recruiters Wednesday as JVS recognized the latest graduates of its award-winning BankWork$™, the program’s largest graduating class to date.

The 34 graduates of the eight-week training program included the first graduating class to train at BankWork$™ new San Fernando Valley base at Los Angeles Ort College in Van Nuys as well as 23 students who trained at BankWork$™ long-established base at The Expo Center in downtown Los Angeles. 

Established in 2006, the eight-week BankWork$™ program trains individuals, ages 18 years old and older, for positions as bank tellers as a first step on the career ladder in the financial services industry. In addition to training, the program includes job placement assistance and ongoing coaching for career advancement.

Graduates of BankWork$™ classes #29 and #30 included individuals who have confronted homelessness and successfully emerged from the foster care system as well as immigrants from Mexico and Hong Kong. Several of the graduates are bilingual and many of them have sales and/or cash handling experience with companies ranging from McDonald’s to Nordstrom, from T Mobile to Chase Bank. 

Many of them have overcome personal or financial struggles including broken homes and, in several cases, multiple layoffs as a result of the recession.

All of the BankWork$™ graduates, program administrators insisted, will be assets to whatever banks or financial institutions are savvy enough to hire them.

“You are going to be our stars of the future,” JVS COO Claudia Finkel told the graduates, noting that JVS graduates enjoy an 81% placement rate and an 86% retention rate after six months on the job. “We know you’re going to stick around and succeed.”

Finkel’s remarks were echoed by Les Biller, BankWork$™ founder and benefactor who has since launched a satellite program in Seattle and hopes to eventually expand the teller training program across the country.

“Somebody opened a door for me that I could walk through and prove that I could do the job,” said Biller, former COO of Wells Fargo. “BankWork$™ is opening that door for you. Walk through that door and make the most of that opportunity, then turn around and do the same for someone else.”

Getting through the program is no small achievement. Program administrators Lisa Meadows, Alese Pedro and Maria Zuniga hold trainees to rigorous standards of attendance, professionalism and preparation.

Jim Harmer, who graduated the program in 2011 following a career in sales, compared the training session to a new employee’s 90-day probation period. In his year on the job as a teller at Bank of America, Harmer has been recognized several times for exceptional service.

“Be there every day, be on time, dress and act professionally,” Harmer told the new graduates.  “You have shown you have the dedication and determination. You have all the skills you need.”

After receiving their certificates of completion, the 34 graduates interviewed with recruiters from BankWork$™ partnering financial institutions including Bank of America, Citibank, City National Bank, Continental Currency, Pacific Western Bank, US Bank, Union Bank, Wells Fargo, First Entertainment Credit Union, Cathay Bank and One West Bank.

At the event, JVS received a $50,000 check for the program from Bank of America, part of the financial institution’s ongoing commitment both to BankWork$™ and to funding programs and nonprofits within the community. Bank of America has hired more than 100 BankWork$™ graduates since the program’s inception.

“You guys really have the keys not just to your own future but the future of America,” said Adelena Lopez, Senior Vice President, Consumer Market Manager for Bank of America, addressing the graduates. “No matter who you choose or who chooses you, you should know that the opportunities are endless.”

 “It’s no surprise that Bank of America fully supports JVS,” added Malgy Blue, Senior Vice President, Sales & Service Manager for Bank of America. “That’s because JVS knows talent. JVS engineers talent.”

JVS is currently recruiting for trainees for its upcoming BankWork$™ training sessions both at The Expo Center near downtown LA and in the San Fernando Valley. The program is free, but applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, speak and write English, have basic computer skills and have no adult felony convictions.

To request an application or for more information, contact Lisa Meadows at (310) 273-6633, ext. 241 or visit

  • Evan Henerson, Media Relations Manager

    6505 Wilshire Blvd. 
    Los Angeles, CA 90048 
    Phone: (323)761-8888 x8866


  • Lisa Meadows, BankWork$ Associate Director

    Multiple locations
    Los Angeles, CA 90048 
    Phone: (310) 273-6633, ext. 5420