GSN NEWS STAFF

Two Gilbert teens are among five students Valleywide who have been have been selected as Student Leaders by Bank of America to build their workforce and leadership skills through a paid summer internship at a local nonprofit.

Emily Allen and Melanie Furman will be working at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley.

Emily, a senior at Campo Verde High School, “decided in junior high she wanted to put herself out there, get involved and be a leader,” a Bank of America spokeswoman said.

At Campo Verde, she started the environmental club on campus to increase recycling efforts, reduce waste and clean the community.

“She has led the group in conducting recycling drives and awareness campaigns, plant drives and park cleaning projects,” the spokeswoman said.

Emily also is the marketing director for Campo Verde’s student council. She said she’s inspired by her father, who earned his college degree in his late 20s, with a wife, two children and a full-time job and said he worked “hard to improve his career and creating opportunities for himself and his family.”

Melanie, who just graduated from Corona del Sol High School, too, also was praised by Bank of America for showing “her determination to lead.”

After talking to a specialist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, she started her own service project called Knot Just Blankets, where she leads National Junior Honor Society students in making no-sew fleece blankets and writing positive notes for patients in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

She also has what the spokeswoman called “a passion for driving civic engagement among youth” and belonged to the Arizona Governor’s Youth Commission to work with teens from across the state to find solutions to community problems. Melanie also was editor of her high school newspaper.

The bank’s Student Leaders program is designed to help young people not just develop their leadership skills but to also “better money habits by working with bank volunteers to increase their financial management skills, from building a budget to creating a savings plan.”

“We recognize that building workforce skills early can help prepare a young person for long-term success,” said Bank of America Arizona President Benito Almanza. “Investing in youth and young adults is part of our broader commitment to connect people to the training and jobs needed for success, ultimately strengthening our community.”

The partnership between the bank and the Boys & Girls Clubs is in its 15th year.

Marcia Mintz, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix, said the teens get a “hands-on education in what it takes to run a large nonprofit.

“We also look forward to learning from the Student Leaders, who bring such enthusiasm and fresh perspective to our clubs each summer,” she added.

Bank of America also hosts the Student Leaders at a national conference in Washingon, D.C., in July, where they further develop their leadership skills and have a chance to develop a nationwide network with people like them.

In addition to discussing civil rights and the value of cross-sector partnerships, they will also meet with members of Congress and participate in a service learning project at the American Red Cross.

A bank spokeswoman said the entire program is part of its effort to form “strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organizations, to bring together our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact.”