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KeyBank Supports YWCA To Provide Digital Literacy and Internet Access to Low-Income Women

Originally published at 3blmedia.com. KeyBank ranked No. 18 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2022.

 

The YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester and KeyBank announce a community partnership to provide life-changing digital skills training and resources to low-income women currently residing the YWCA’s Women’s Residence in White Plains, as well as to women residing throughout Westchester County. Through a $200,000 KeyBank Foundation grant ($100,00 per year for two years), the YWCA will scale its YW Strive program to provide at least 100 women (with an emphasis on women of color and low-income women) with essential digital and workforce support to improve their vocational opportunities.

Piloted in 2021, the YW Strive program is designed to connect women to free internet access and devices as well as the training to utilize them. The ultimate goal of the program is to not only support women in their efforts to gain employment, but to empower them to take a step towards breaking free from poverty and its devastating effects. KeyBank’s funding will enable the YWCA to hire a full time YW Strive program director and provide at least sixteen cohorts of 12 women each over a two-year period with the Strive training program and free internet hotspots and/or computing devices.

“KeyBank Foundation is committed to partnering with community organizations whose mission it is to improve the lives of disadvantaged populations in our neighborhoods through education, workforce development and community investment,” said John Manginelli, KeyBank Market President and Northeast Regional Executive for KeyBank Real Estate Capital. “One of the effects we’ve seen from the pandemic is the disproportionate impact it has had on women and women of color experiencing acute employment disparities due to system disadvantages. Our partnership with the YWCA is aimed at helping to alleviate those disadvantages by directly addressing the lack of basic digital skills and internet access that many unemployed and underemployed women in our community face, preventing them from seeking higher paying jobs and a path out of poverty.”

The poverty levels of women in our local community are much higher than those of men — the poverty rate in Westchester County is 8.2% overall, but 18.8% for single women with children under 18 and 40.3% for women with children under 5. This may be a result of women having more childcare and eldercare responsibilities that make job seeking more difficult. The unemployment rate of Westchester women who live in poverty is 25.2% — 58% higher than men (U.S. Census, National Women’s Law Center). The situation is more dire for women of color. COVID-19 has also created unprecedented unemployment for women (Economic Policy Institute).

“KeyBank is a visionary partner to the YWCA, sharing our determination to empower all women, especially those who are most vulnerable, by providing free digital literacy training and internet access. The YWCA Residence is more than a safe and stable home for women; our broad services open doors to life-changing opportunities,” said Isabella Malouf, Director of Residence and Clinical Services. “Programs like YW Strive give women at the residence and throughout Westchester County the tools they need to confidently enter and advance in the working world. Today, KeyBank and the YWCA are breaking down a barrier that perpetuates poverty for too many women in our county.”

The YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester operates safe, affordable, permanent supportive housing for 193 low-income women in its Residence, making the YWCA the largest provider of supportive housing for low-income women in New York State and the only one in Westchester. In addition to affordable housing, residents receive on-site social services that help them live more stable, productive lives including help accessing government benefits (e.g., healthcare, behavioral health care, SNAP), substance abuse treatment, legal services, job training, life skills training and more. The Residence also operates a free food pantry and free clothing boutique on the premises. In addition to program support and training, KeyBank’s grant will enable the Residence building, which is not fully wired for internet accessibility, the ability to provide internet hotspots for accessibility at no cost to residents and other low-income women in the community.

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