BNT Celebrates Game-Changing $1 Million Citi Foundation Grant; Announces New Youth Financial Literacy Program and Housing Strategy!

Bridgeport, CT – June 14, 2024: Dozens of real estate professionals, representatives from Bridgeport Public Schools, and representatives from the local delegation, including Mayor Joe Ganim of Bridgeport and Senator Richard Blumenthal, filled the lobby of Bridgeport non-profit Building Neighborhoods Together (BNT) for a breakfast to celebrate the agency’s recent selection as the sole Connecticut recipient of the Citi Foundation’s $1 Million Community Progress Makers award.

The Citi Foundation selected BNT as one of sixteen greater New York City nonprofits out of thousands of applications for its commitment to serving Connecticut’s low- to moderate-income communities through creating affordable housing and providing financial literacy education. 

Guests eagerly awaited the arrival of the Senator, who opened the celebration. He said, “If I had to name a place with more untapped potential, it would be Bridgeport.” He praised the mission of BNT, encouraging the staff to “keep the spirit alive when there are so many reasons to be discouraged, keep fighting for more housing and doing good by people who need a helping hand, not a handout.”

Mayor Joe Ganim said that BNT is helping make a clearer vision for Bridgeport a reality and helping people fulfill the American Dream. Affordable housing is the most significant challenge impacting Bridgeport, Connecticut, and the country. He announced that Bridgeport is committed to constructing 6,000 new homes for new and existing Bridgeport residents by the year 2030. Ganim was also excited that BNT will be helping expand financial literacy for the next generation by creating a youth financial literacy program. 

Jorge Perez, Connecticut State Commissioner of Banking, said that the state has allocated millions of dollars towards housing and is committed to funding projects to create more housing, as it is “one of the most critical needs” for residents across the state. 

Kristen Scheyder, Senior Vice President of the Citi Foundation, was ecstatic to celebrate BNT’s award, especially as the only nonprofit chosen for this year’s award from the state of Connecticut. She explained that only 30% of Americans have the savings to respond to a $500 emergency. Scheyder praised BNT’s efforts to increase financial literacy in youth by forming good habits with money and “helping a life start well, rather than trying to rebuild it.” 

Doris Latorre, CEO of BNT, excitedly announced BNT’s Strategic Plan, which will guide the agency over the next three years. The plan includes five primary goals: 

  1. Redefine affordable housing development to address the lack of and price of homes 
  2. Create a youth financial literacy program 
  3. Expand financial education and counseling
  4. Become a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI)
  5. Build partnerships with large employers, social services, and other community partners to offer financial literacy as an employee benefit. 

Lattore also made an exciting announcement about the youth financial literacy program: a partnership with Bridgeport Public Schools to bring financial literacy to high schoolers throughout the city. Last year, Governor Ned Lamont passed legislation requiring students to complete a half-credit financial literacy course to graduate from Connecticut public high schools. As part of this, BNT plans to hire a Youth Financial Literacy Coordinator to facilitate the program in the high schools. 

The celebration concluded with a toast to the success of BNT and thousands of Connecticut residents who will be positively impacted by its expanding services thanks to the grant from the Citi Foundation. 

About BNT
Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust Inc. (BNT), doing business as Building Neighborhoods Together, focuses on affordable housing and economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income families in Connecticut, primarily serving the Greater Bridgeport area. We operate two divisions: the Empowerment Resource Center (ERA), providing HUD-certified housing counseling and financial literacy, and Affordable Housing Development. In 2023, we supported 2,300 residents, helping 170 become new homeowners and many others boost their financial stability. We host “Coffee and Convo” events for real estate professionals and the “Homeward Bound” housing fair in June to promote first-time homeownership.

About Citi and the Citi Foundation
Citi is a leading global bank, the third largest in the U.S. and among the top ten globally by assets. It offers financial products and services to consumers, corporations, governments, and institutions in over 160 countries. The Citi Foundation promotes economic progress and improves lives in low-income communities worldwide through financial inclusion, job opportunities for youth, and innovative community-building efforts. The foundation’s national award announcement can be found at this link: Citi National Announcement.

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