As part of its work to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builders: Racial Equality Award recognizes individuals who’ve made extraordinary contributions to break down systemic racial barriers and create economic opportunities for Black, Hispanic-Latino, Asian American, and Native American people nationwide.
The Racial Equality Award is an extension of Bank of America’s signature philanthropic program, Neighborhood Builders. Through this recognition, each awardee will direct $200,000 in flexible funding to a nonprofit of their choice and the selected organizations are invited to participate in the company’s year-long Neighborhood Builders Leadership Program, which provides strategic growth and development trainings, setting the organizations up for long-term success.
The 2022 inaugural awardees include Manjusha (Manju) P. Kulkarni of Los Angeles, who is the only recipient from California.
Kulkarni has dedicated her life to fighting for equity. She currently serves as executive director of the Los Angeles-based AAPI Equity Alliance, a coalition of 40+ community-based organizations advocating for 1.5 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in Los Angeles County with a particular focus on low-income, immigrant, refugee, and other disadvantaged sectors of the population. She also serves as a lecturer in the Asian American Studies Department at UCLA.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kulkarni co-founded Stop AAPI Hate, the leading aggregator of coronavirus-related hate incidents against AAPIs in the nation. The data and stories compiled by Stop AAPI Hate helped drive national action among community members to stand up and speak out against anti-Asian discrimination. Due to their activism, Kulkarni and her fellow Stop AAPI Hate co-founders were named to the Time Magazine “Most Influential People of 2021” list.
In 2014, Kulkarni received the White House Champions of Change award from President Barack Obama, which recognized her dedication to improving health care access for Asian American communities. In March 2021, she testified before the House Judiciary Committee on anti-Asian hate. Kulkarni will direct Bank of America’s funding to the South Asian Network.
“I am incredibly honored to receive the Neighborhood Builders: Racial Equality Award from Bank of America and delighted to be able to support South Asian Network, an organization dedicated to addressing racial, social and economic disparities experienced by South Asian Americans and ensuring equity for all marginalized communities in Southern California,” said Kulkarn.
The other awardees are:
Edgar Villanueva of New York City, founder and principal of Decolonizing Wealth Project;
John Rice of Bethesda, Md., founder and CEO of Management Leadership for Tomorrow;
Luz Corcuera of Sarasota, Fla., executive director of UnidosNow;
Nathaniel Smith of Atlanta, founder and chief equity officer of Partnership for Southern Equity.