Workforce Development Initiative Announces Over $5 Million in Grants

November 16, 2003

Boston – The Boston Workforce Development Initiative, the single largest public/private investment in workforce development in Boston’s history, today announced the recipients of grants totaling more than $5 million over the next three to five years. Through these investments, the Initiative seeks to change the way employers hire and promote entry-level workers from Boston’s neighborhoods.

Two of the Initiative’s grants focus on the health care industry, and a third on the hospitality industry. Employing tens of thousands of workers in Boston, these industries have the potential to raise the income levels of immigrants and other low-income residents enough to significantly raise their standards of living.

In addition, the Initiative will provide up to $1.5 million over five years for a public policy advocacy effort to develop more effective links between the Commonwealth’s workers and good jobs. In no other city or state has a single foundation, let alone the Initiative’s unique coalition of funders, made such a large and coordinated commitment to advocating for systemic change in workforce development, practice, and policy.

“In the current economic climate, Boston cannot afford to pass by motivated people who want to contribute to the common wealth. So I am proud to join this unprecedented gathering of the public and private sector as we pioneer a new way of investing in Boston's most important asset—our workforce,” said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “Reinvesting city linkage funds in our citizens gives me great satisfaction. Not only will more Bostonians have the tools to climb the career ladder, but Boston will have one of the best-trained workforces in the nation.”

Grants totaling approximately $1 million over three years each will go to Partners HealthCare, a network that includes Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and other medical institutions; the International Institute of Boston in partnership with Hilton Hotels; and the Boston Health Care and Research Training Institute, a collaborative led by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation. These “Workforce Partnership” grants will support approaches that build long-lasting relationships among employers, workers, and providers of education, training, and support services in the health care and hospitality industries.

Even in a tight economy, employers in these industries need help to reduce turnover and improve workers’ skills. Through this unprecedented, multiyear effort, employers will gain a trained and capable workforce and enable thousands of disadvantaged workers to advance in jobs that offer higher wages, educational opportunities, and benefits.

“The health care industry will continue to experience both chronic and acute labor shortages,” according to Gary Gottlieb, MD, president of Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “These grants will help the city’s hospitals, health clinics, and health research institutes to build connections with neighborhood agencies to recruit and train new workers.”

The same is true of the hospitality industry. “Turnover rates in our industry are 100% and can reach 150%,” says Roger Swadish, area vice president for Hilton Corporation. “Through this program, we will help our entry-level team members prepare for and succeed in higher paying jobs. This will keep our turnover rate well below the industry standard and improve the quality of service to our guests.” Since 1997, over 5,000 hotel rooms have been built in Boston, bringing a corresponding demand for hotel employees.

Overall, the Initiative represents an investment of $14.3 million over five years. It is the product of major new investments from a coalition of funders that includes the Boston Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Paul and Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation, the Fleet Charitable Fund and the Frank W. and Carl. S. Adams Memorial managed by Fleet’s Charitable Assets Division, the Hyams Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the State Street Foundation, and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, as well as the Mayor’s Office of Jobs and Community Services and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

According to Paul Grogan, president of the Boston Foundation, “It is exciting and unprecedented for private foundations to combine their investments into a common vision and partner with the public sector to change the way we train and advance our workforce. This partnership approach is a blueprint for how cities can address the tough economic and social challenges.”

Gordon Conway, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, observed, "Our work has taught us that community organizations play an invaluable role in connecting people to jobs and employers to good workers. We know that these resources will be used to help many Bostonians gain the skills and support they need to step onto the ladder of opportunity."

The initiative will use three strategies to improve connections between workers and good jobs. In addition to creating workforce partnerships, the Initiative will advocate for policy change and to increase the effectiveness of participating organizations. Several Boston-area non-profits will manage these components. Jobs for the Future plans and manages the overall initiative and the Public Policy Advocacy component. The Boston Private Industry Council manages the Workforce Partnership Component and planning grants. Management Consulting Services manages the Strengthening Capacity component. Abt Associates and Mt. Auburn Associates will evaluate the Initiative.

“At a time when the national economy is still suffering from its worst slowdown in decades, placing Boston back on sound economic footing will require more than creating modest numbers of new jobs,” says Marlene Seltzer, president of Jobs for the Future, which is managing the initiative for the funding collaborative. “We need to develop effective job training and job promotion opportunities that help companies in key sectors develop the workforce they need to grow and thrive.”

The Initiative is also investing $100,000 in planning grants to seed the development of new workforce partnerships that build career advancement opportunities in two other critical industries: auto repair service and building maintenance.

A planning grant to the Asian American Civic Association, in partnership with La Alianza Hispana, and the Urban League, will support collaboration with the Massachusetts State Auto Dealers Association and Sullivan Tire. This effort will increase access to training and better-paying jobs in the automotive repair industry.

The second planning grant goes to the Voice and Future Fund, the training arm of Service Employees International Union 615. The Fund has built a partnership with Harvard University, MIT, and several janitorial services companies to develop career development opportunities and increase access to specialized training in a wide range of building maintenance skills.

The Public Policy Advocacy grant supports a partnership led by the Women’s Union, the Organizing and Training Leadership Center, and the Massachusetts Workforce Board Association. The Massachusetts AFL-CIO, the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, the National Network of Sector Partnerships, and the Strategy Group are also part of this partnership.

“This Initiative allows extraordinarily diverse stakeholders to act on a shared goal of building the Commonwealth's competitive advantage by strengthening our skilled workforce,” according to Mary Lassen, president of the Women’s Union.

This year’s awards are the second for the Initiative. Previously, six community-based organizations received Strengthening Capacity grants totaling over $700,000. These grants, together with the Workforce Partnerships and Public Policy Advocacy grants, total $5.3 million. Four of the previously funded groups have been selected to implement or plan Workforce Partnerships: the Asian American Civic Association, the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, La Alianza Hispana, and the Vietnamese American Civic Association. The early investments strengthened the grantees’ ability to build strong partnerships with employers and other service providers in order to better meet the needs of their communities.


Boston Workforce Development Initiative

Grantees, November 2003

Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation
The Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation will receive an implementation grant to expand its existing career ladders program. It will add new programs, trainings, and services; extend the career ladder to the surrounding communities of the Fenway, Jamaica Plain, and Mission Hill; and establish a permanent Institute providing opportunities for advancement and career development for Boston’s residents and employees in health care and research institutions.

Partners:   Fenway CDC, WorkSource Staffing Partnership, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Children’s Hospital-Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School and School of Dental Medicine, New England Baptist Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Joslin Diabetes Center, Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, Martha Eliot Health Center, Fenway Community Health Center, Bunker Hill Community College, Mass Bay Community College, Jewish Vocational Service, Roxbury Community College, Hyde Square Task Force, Jamaica Plain Community Centers, Bromley-Heath Tenants Association, Jamaica Plain Head Start, Mission Main Resident Services Corporation, Sociedad Latina, Parker Hill Fenway ABCD, Roxbury Tenants of Harvard, and Wentworth Institute of Technology.

“The Boston Health Care and Research Training Institute is providing opportunity for Boston residents and for employers and employees in health care and research. We are very pleased to work with the Boston Workforce Development Initiative, with our partnering employers, and with our partner organizations to expand our work to provide more comprehensive career ladder services and to build a ladder that begins in the neighboring communities and ends in high-skilled and high-paying jobs in the health care and research institutions. Together, we are making a difference in health care.”
—Richard Thal, Executive Director, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation

Partners HealthCare
Partners HealthCare will receive an implementation grant to “reframe the mission of a teaching hospital” by developing new programs and coordinating a number of independent programs aimed at providing employment opportunities for neighborhood residents and satisfying the business’ need to fill jobs. Each of the programs offers education, career counseling, case management, and skill training both at the company and at a community college. The grant will supplement these with training for managers on how to encourage workers’ career development, a specialized ESOL class for workers with credentials from foreign countries who are working in unskilled jobs due to their limited mastery of English, and a 20-week, on-site, pre-college course that integrates math, reading, writing, science concepts, study skills, and an introduction to college application process.

Partners: Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, Spaulding Rehabilitative Hospital, Whittier Street Health Center, WorkSource Staffing Partnership, Jewish Vocational Services, Project Hope, Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, Bunker Hill Community College, Mass Bay Community College, Roxbury Community College, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Massachusetts Board of Higher Education

“Partners HealthCare is extremely grateful to the Initiative. This grant will enable us to address a serious labor shortage in nursing, radiology technology, surgical technology, and other skilled health care professions, and at the same time enable our entry-level and incumbent workers to receive the education and training they need to move into professional careers in health care. Through education and training, job coaching, and other support services, Partners HealthCare looks forward to working with our community partners to expand economic opportunity for Boston residents and build a skilled, dedicated, and diverse health care labor force for the future.”
—Dr. James J. Mongan, President and CEO Partners HealthCare.

International Institute of Boston
International Institute of Boston will receive an implementation grant to expand its pre-employment training to additional program participants and to offer skill upgrade training, case management and career counseling to incumbent workers of Hilton Hotels and to graduates of the pre-employment training.

Partners: The Hilton Corporation, Vietnamese American Civic Association

"The Family of Hilton Hotels of Boston is proud of the diversity of our Team Members and is especially pleased to support our foreign-born Team Members as they pursue growth opportunities in our profession."
—Roger Swadish , Area Vice President, Hilton Hotels Corporation

Asian American Civic Association
The Asian American Civic Association will receive a planning grant toward developing a customized training curriculum and to recruit and train minorities for automotive repair positions with career ladder opportunities.

Partners:   La Alianza Hispana, Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, Sullivan Tire, Massachusetts State Auto Dealers Association, Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, Madison Park Vocational-Technical School

“We are excited, ready, prepared, and committed to begin the planning of the automotive service and repair program. The development of this sectoral training initiative and sectoral-based career pathways in growth industries, such as the automotive field, holds enormous potential for our low-income clients and for our organizations.”
—Chau-ming Lee, Executive Director, Asian American Civic Association

Voice and Future Fund (SEIU 615)
The Voice and Future Fund (SEIU 615) will receive a planning grant toward creating career ladders in full-time, benefited custodial positions. Through labor-management collaboration, the goal is also to create a fund to support the development of a permanent training center in the next collective bargaining agreement.

Partners: SEIU Local 615, ABM Janitorial Services, ACME Pioneer Building Services, AM/PM Cleaning Corporation, American Cleaning, Centennial One, Inc., Harvard University, Bridge to Learning and Literacy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jewish Vocational Services, Massachusetts Worker Education Roundtable

“We are very excited about beginning this planning process. We believe that this partnership can and will provide the opportunity for countless low-wage, part-time janitors with no health benefits to move into jobs that will support themselves and their families.”
—Rocio Saenz, President, Voice and Future Fund and SEIU Local 615

Workforce Solutions Group
The Workforce Solutions Group will implement a statewide policy and advocacy campaign to build public support for investment in workforce development and achieve long-term, sustainable improvements in the workforce development system to help low-skill/low-income individuals achieve family-supporting incomes.

Partners: The Workforce Solutions Group is a partnership of the Women’s Union, the Organizing and Training Leadership Center, and the Massachusetts Workforce Board Association, working with the AFL CIO, Center for Labor Market Studies, National Network of Sector Partners, and The Strategy Group.

"The Workforce Solutions Group is tremendously excited to lead the advocacy effort. The partners appreciate the funders' decision to invest in this critical change-oriented work."
—Mary Lassen, President, The Women’s Union