TAMPA — Aidza Antonio thought she was attending a roundtable about affordable housing with other community leaders.
But when the executive director of the Tampa-based Solita's House arrived at Bank of America's Century Park offices last week, she got a $30,000 check to help her organization continue its work of assisting people secure and maintain home ownership.
Every penny will go toward hiring more employees, Antonio said.
"I feel like it's the sweepstakes," she said.
Solita's House was one of 12 nonprofit organizations in the Tampa Bay area to receive a portion of $300,000 in grant monies given by the bank.
The nonprofits were invited under the guise of a discussion about affordable housing and community development, a ruse that held up just for a few minutes before they were surprised with award letters.
The organizations — which focus on affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization, or economic development — work to help people and families overcome economic barriers, said Bill Goede, president of Bank of America's Tampa Bay market.
"You are all tackling that," he said. "You are all great partners in doing that."
Jose Garcia, executive director of Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay, Inc., said his nonprofit will use the $30,000 it received to boost a program to develop a dozen new single-family homes and rehabilitate another 40 – just in time for peak hurricane season.
"This helps us keep a positive cash flow to continue serving people," he said.
Bank of America surprised the following organizations with $300,000 in grants: Boley Centers; CDC of Tampa; Habitat for Humanity; Habitat For Humanity of Pinellas County; Housing and Education Alliance; Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay; Solita's House; Neighborhood Home Solutions; Tampa Bay CDC; Tampa Bay Wave; University Area CDC; YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg.
Contact Kenya Woodard at firstname.lastname@example.org.