Executive Director of Foster & Banks Walk in Faith Foundation, Program Coordinator at the Pollination Project, and now Leader of the Youth Development Hub, Jamila Banks wears many hats, and is a moving force within the Los Angeles County Community. As a Motivator, Mentor, and Entrepreneur, she has a diverse background in the fields of Social Services, Education, and Mental Health, and has been an Environmental advocate, promoting awareness, responsibility, and accountability for the Earth for over 5 years.
Jamila holds a B.A. degree in in Political Science from the University of Southern California (2004), and graduated from the Marriage and Family Therapy Graduate Program with her M.S., M.F.T. from the University of LaVerne (2011). Concurrently, Jamila has certificates from numerous workshops and seminars, as she consistently work to expand her knowledge. She is also a student member of the American Psychotherapy Association, and an Alumni of the U.S.C. Passing the Mantle Program (2010).
Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, in a single parent household, Jamila is no stranger to the violence, poverty, and lack that so many black and brown people face in lower income communities. By the age of 4, she was all too familiar with the pain of witnessing domestic violence, poverty, and by 16 had lived through the Los Angeles riots, and so much strife, including the near murder of her mother. Being a strong woman of Faith, and highly educated, her mother was determined to raise Jamila and her brother to be the best versions of themselves, no matter the environment they were in, and to always believe in themselves and to trust that they could overcome all odds and obstacles and achieve any goal. Her mother’s love, guidance, and encouragement, always kept Jamila on the right path, and is what continues to fuel and drive her today to purse her dreams of giving back to others in need.
Over the years of working in different systems set up with the intentions of helping youth and families, Jamila became disheartened with the amount of children and parents that she personally worked with who were suffering. She was also concerned with the increasing number of children, adolescents, and young adults experiencing crisis as well as those with developmental and learning disabilities. Parents were concerned with the lack of funding, inappropriate levels of service and the increasingly restrictive service models seen in most US-based social service programs. In 2009, after going through a divorce and battling with depression, Jamila became even more aware of the difficulty of navigating through all the red tape and jumping through all the hoops required to really get some government assistance and help. Using her own experiences of being a single parent and struggling to make ends meet, Jamila decided that she would use every day of her life to make sure she made a tangible, positive impact in her community. In 2012, she left her job as a Regional Center Counselor, took her savings and retirement, and invested in herself, creating Foster & Banks Walk in Faith Foundation with her Co-Founder and mother Ar’Lisa Foster, Husband La-Ty Banks, and Brother Jobari Coleman-Wilson.
In 2013, Jamila was awarded her first $1,000 seed grant from The Pollination Project, for her Youth Earth Club, a key component of her GO GREEN Initiative, and has since been awarded two Impact Grants, offered her time as a Grant Advisor, and has been an official staff member for over a year now, working on many special projects. Jamila is also the mother of 3 young children, Kirsten (10), Ar’Destiny (3), and Nyaire (1) and will be celebrating 5 years of marriage in August of 2016.
To read more about Jamila’s Pollination Project Grant, click here.