Mayor Walsh invests over $7 million to help close the opportunity gap for Boston residents
July 1, 2014
Today Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced that the City of Boston’s Office of Jobs and Community Services (JCS) will provide over $7 million in grants in support of workforce training, education, ESOL programs, adult literacy, and social services in the new fiscal year, which begins today.
The grant awards will create positive opportunities for thousands of adults and youth across the city that might not otherwise have access to such supportive programming. Community organizations will work with 2,000 adults to reduce barriers to their employment by addressing issues such as housing instability, low literacy, domestic violence, substance abuse, and CORI problems. An additional 450 adults will be able to receive occupational skills training and job placement assistance.
The funding will also help 700 youth pursue a high school diploma or GED and engage in activities to prepare for post-secondary education and careers. The goal is to help youth explore targeted careers in industries such as health, construction, child care, marine trades, and hospitality.
With dozens of community members on hand at this morning’s announcement at the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, which will use the funding for after-school academics, Mayor Walsh commented on the impact of the work. “By leveraging these grants in a coordinated way that reaches people in the community, we hope to help close the opportunity gap that exists in Boston. We’re a city that consistently achieves at the highest of levels, but we cannot afford to be satisfied until all of our residents have a chance to create a good life for themselves and their families.”
Funding comes from a variety of local, state, and federal sources, including the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), Neighborhood Jobs Trust (NJT), Workforce Investment Act (WIA), the City’s Alternative Education Initiative (AEI), and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE).
Sixty-eight organizations throughout the City will benefit from $2.3 million in CDBG funding to support programs that help adults learn English, improve literacy skills, overcome homelessness, and connect to employment. After-school programs with a strong academic focus will also receive funding.
"Without the Walk to Work program and CDBG funding , I do not think I would have realized my dream or succeeded and accomplished most of the things I have done,” said Natasha Similien of the Fenway CDC, a grant recipient. “I strongly feel it is essential to continue funding programs that promote family stability and economic self-sufficiency through job readiness, life coaching, training, education, and help in accessing community resources such as housing, fuel assistance, childcare, food stamps and other referrals.”
“Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center and other community-based organizations have leveraged CDBG funds to serve the most vulnerable among us,” said Giles Li, Executive Director of the Center. “In Chinatown, we have invested this funding in school-age programming, to ensure they have every opportunity to embrace diversity, learn to love reading, and develop the skills they need to succeed.”
JCS, on behalf of The Neighborhood Jobs Trust (NJT), issued a Request for Proposals in June for adult job training and ESOL programs. Approximately $1.5 million will be available to fund 10 to 15 training and ESOL programs across the city.
Approximately $1.8 million in WIA and AEI funds will be used to assist 14 organizations that provide summer and year-round career exploration and education programs for young people, as well as alternative education programs.
WIA funding will go to local Career Centers and training providers for workforce training. DESE funding will be provided to 8 local programs for adult basic education services. Over $2 million is allocated for these services.