Building a bridge to better jobs for Bostonians

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A federal program that fuels grassroots solutions to community challenges is helping close the skills gap that traps millions of people in poverty, even in a growing economy.

Through a partnership with LISC, the Social Innovation Fund (SIF)—part of the federal Corporation for National and Community Service—has awarded $1.2 million to the new Bridges to Career Opportunities programs at Jewish Vocational Services(JVS) and the Roxbury Center for Financial Empowerment (CFE).

Coaches at the organizations will teach core skills like math, reading, and English as a second language in combination with “soft skills” like interviewing, teamwork and conflict resolution. At JVS, these skills will be taught in the context of two high-tech fields, Biotechnology and Compliance, and Computer Networking, while at CFE, the focus will be on the Hospitality industry.

“It’s clear that many hardworking families continue to struggle—not because there are no good jobs, and not because they aren’t willing to work. They have fallen through the cracks of our educational system and aren’t able to read, write, or manage numbers well enough to move up the economic ladder,” said Bob Van Meter, LISC Boston executive director. “Addressing the skills gap is a fundamental part of helping unemployed and underemployed workers take advantage of the good jobs that are out there.”

JVS will receive $225,000 per year for 3 years to strengthen its highly-successful Biotechnology and Compliance Pathway in partnership with Quincy College, while expanding a current focus area in Information Technology into a separate STEM pathway program in Computer Networking. CFE will receive $175,000 per year for 3 years for a Hospitality Bridge to Career Opportunities program in partnership with BEST Corp, a successful program that has close ties with the hotel workers union (Local 26), as well as with the largest hospitality employers in the city. 

These awards are part of an $11.3 million SIF grant to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), which developed the skills program and began piloting it in the last few years through Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs). There are 80 LISC FOCs across the country providing integrated services and long-term financial coaching that helps low-income families expand their income, credit, savings and job opportunities.

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