Local nonprofits score Bank of America grants

Pacific Symphony, South Coast Reportory, Orange County Great Park, Art-A-Fair Foundation, Festival of Arts and Sawdust Art Festival are among the local nonprofits that recently received grants from Bank of America.

A total of $465,000 was divvied up among 16 Orange County groups, all of which target community development and neighborhood revitalization.

"Pacific Symphony is grateful to the Bank of America Foundation for its investment in the artistic and educational programming of the Pacific Symphony," President John Forsyte said in an email. "During a typical season, Pacific Symphony produces over 100 performances and serves 250,000 community members of all ages. Its educational programs are nationally recognized as among the most comprehensive in the nation."

Bank of America first issued a request for proposals in April, then evaluated where its philanthropic investments would have the most effect.

According to Allen Staff, Bank of America's Orange County market president, the company gives an estimated $2 million annually to groups in the area. This year's funds are expected to aid 1.1 million individuals and have an economic impact of more than $2.1 billion, he said.

"We're excited to be working with local community partners that are dedicated to improving and preserving our neighborhoods," Staff said. "Access to affordable housing, financial education and community initiatives are an important part of our broader efforts to help improve the financial lives of our customers, clients and communities."

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation helps the financial institution distribute in excess of $200 million across the United States, while employees volunteer time and energy to worthy causes, he added.

Cynthia Fung, marketing and public relations director for Sawdust, said Bank of America has helped Laguna Beach's three art festivals by funding a portion of the city's seasonal trolley and parking fees. It has also contributed to the collaborative Passport to the Arts program, which permits unlimited admission into the creative showcases through the summer.

"Without the Bank of America grant, a large chunk of what we do to support our educational mission statement would not be possible," Fung said.

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