JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon chats with Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer Thursday at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage. | Photo by Boris Ladwig

Louisville nonprofits will receive $3 million over three years from JPMorgan Chase to help low-income residents, primarily to gain skills for IT jobs.

Local officials and JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon announced the gift, part of the company’s five-year, $500 million AdvancingCities Challenge, Thursday morning at the Kentucky Center for African American History.

“The real focus of this initiative (is) to try to meet the skills demand that we have as a community,” said Theresa Reno-Weber, CEO of Metro United Way, which prepared Louisville’s proposal.

Theresa Reno-Weber

JPMorgan chose Louisville and four other communities — Chicago, Miami, San Diego and Syracuse, N.Y. — from more than 250 entries from 143 communities in 45 states and territories

Dimon said businesses have to do a better job of getting involved in improving communities, from education to infrastructure and creating opportunities. “We are unabashed about being all-in,” he said.

Dimon used to serve on the board of Louisville-based Yum Brands and said the community remains important to him. He told Insider that he would be meeting with the bank’s local management team but planned to travel back to New York City Thursday.

Dimon referred questions about reasons for JPMorgan’s investments in community building to his chairman’s letter, in which he wrote that the AdvancingCities effort would allow the financial institution, which reported profit of $32 billion last year, to combine its “business and philanthropic resources and expertise to expand opportunity for those being left behind in today’s economy.”

“While we know a fundamental disconnect still remains between business and the average citizen,” Dimon wrote, “we also believe that the only solution is to remain relentless in our efforts to earn trust from every customer in every community.”

MetroUnited Way will use to JPMorgan dollars together with six partners, including Goodwill Industries of Kentucky, AMPED and KentuckianaWorks.

While AMPED is primarily a free youth music program, it also has been providing tech training to place local adults in high-paying jobs, and that aspect of its programming will increase as a result of the JPMorgan grant.

Dave Christopher

Many low-income residents don’t just lack computers, but they might even fear technology, which makes accessing tech training difficult, even disregarding the cost to acquire such skills, said AMPED Founder and CEO Dave Christopher.

The organization, which has helped 25 families a year through the program, funded by a National Center for Families Learning Grant, will expand its outreach to 300 people over the next three years, providing free training and connecting low-income residents with local technology companies to land good jobs.

“With all the other wraparound services that this grant will provide … it’s going to be difficult for a person not to succeed that really wants to succeed,” Christopher said. “And I think it’ll make a huge difference.”

Reno-Weber said that for the city to be named among five winners in a national competition with more than 250 entries also indicates that national experts are recognizing that Louisville has answers to problems that communities are seeing all over the country.

“For me, it is a chance to continue to raise the profile of Louisville as a city where partners come together to really transform lives and overcome the challenges that might be holding traditionally disadvantaged neighborhoods or individuals back,” she said.

Boris Ladwig

Boris Ladwig

Boris Ladwig is a reporter with more than 20 years of experience and has won awards from multiple journalism organizations in Indiana and Kentucky for feature series, news, First Amendment/community affairs, nondeadline news, criminal justice, business and investigative reporting. As part of The (Columbus, Indiana) Republic’s staff, he also won the Kent Cooper award, the top honor given by the Associated Press Managing Editors for the best overall news writing in the state. A graduate of Indiana State University, he is a soccer aficionado (Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln), singer and travel enthusiast who has visited countries on five continents. He speaks fluent German, rudimentary French and bits of Spanish, Italian, Khmer and Mandarin.