BOSTON – Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development (OWD) today announced a $1.2 million investment in alternative education, career exploration, and career training programs that will open doors to economic opportunity for Boston’s young people. The funds, which come to the City through the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), will support eight local nonprofit organizations that serve young people ages 14-24 with an emphasis on those who have experienced challenges such as homelessness, poverty, court involvement, or physical or mental disability.
“Boston’s young people represent Boston’s talent and future, and creating more opportunities for them is one of the most worthwhile investments we can make,” said Mayor Walsh. “Our City is fortunate to have key community organizations with on-the-ground expertise to guide our young people along to ensure they receive every opportunity possible. They are crucial partners in our work to ensure that every resident, of every age, can pursue their full potential.”
“Under Mayor Walsh’s leadership, the City has made major investments in the transition from youth to adulthood and financial independence for the young people of our neighborhoods. It is so important to provide opportunities for such a broad spectrum of youth and young adults,” said Michael O’Neill, Chair of the Youth Council of Boston’s MassHire Workforce Board, which approves WIOA spending, and a member of the Boston Public School Committee.
The funded programs, which are expected to serve more than 170 young people from July 2019-June 2020, represent a diversity of neighborhoods and program models. College Bound Dorchester, for example, engages court-involved youth in skills-based apprenticeships at a Seaport boat shop. Another recipient, More Than Words, teaches career readiness within the context of a youth-run bookselling business in the South End.
Work experiences such as these can have a profound impact on a variety of life outcomes. A recent report commissioned by OWD found that youth participating in Boston’s summer jobs program showed a 35 percent decrease in violent crime arraignments and a 57 percent decrease in property crime arraignments relative to a control group. These participants also had fewer unexcused absences at school.
All of the funded programs will help youth advance along defined pathways toward individualized goals. For example, a young person might progress from a first-time work experience to a higher-paying job, or from a completed high school degree to an industry certificate or higher education. Along the way, youth will also receive support with personal challenges that have hindered their success in the past.
Yiovani Castillo, 21, of Brighton is one of many young people who have benefited from this life-changing support. When Castillo came to X-Cel Education to finish his high school education, he was earning minimum wage at a grocery store and caring for his five siblings.
“It’s hard to be a brother and a father at the same time, plus trying to work and finish up school. Here [at X-Cel] I had people to support me educationally, emotionally, mentally – even with things going on outside the program,” said Castillo.
Through the program Castillo not only earned his high school credentials, but also completed two internships. He is now training to become a certified wastewater operator with a national construction engineering company.
Recipient organizations were selected through an open and competitive Request for Proposals (RFP) process overseen by OWD and the Boston Private Industry Council. A review committee evaluated the proposals based on applicants’ ability to produce long-term outcomes in career readiness.
In addition to the eight nonprofits, funds will be allocated for skills assessment testing, and, new this year, the creation of an online directory that organizations can use to locate additional support services – ranging from financial literacy to housing assistance – for the youth they serve.
Action for Boston Community Development
University High School $433,893 Students who struggled in traditional schools work toward their Boston Public School diploma
Action for Boston Community Development
Youth train in culinary arts, early childhood education, health care
Asian American Civic Association
Hire Values Youth Center $72,702 Out-of-school youth train in medical office support, building maintenance, retail banking & finance
El Centro del Cardenal
Youth Education Program $91,651 Latinx youth receive bilingual instruction to prepare for the high school equivalency exam
College Board Dorchester
College Connections Marine Apprenticeship Pathway $101,634 Court-involved youth complete HiSET while working in a marine setting
East Boston Neighborhood Health Center
Health Career Pathways & Nursing Assistant Training $76,376 Youth learn about healthcare careers in preparation for personal care assistant training
EDCO Youth Alternative
Alternative High School Program $204,849 Youth work toward their high school diploma
More Than Words
Boston Special Enterprise $112,555 Youth gain job skills by running a book-selling business
Pathways to Careers Initiative $83,847 Youth prepare for the high school equivalency exam
Boston Youth Services Directory & CASAS testing $25,475 Programs connect other youth services, get pre- and post-program assessment tools