Boston offers an array of twenty eight adult basic education (ABE) programs. These programs are supported by multiple public and private funders so that residents who lack sufficient English language proficiency and residents who have not completed high school and seek a diploma can achieve their career goals and compete for family-supporting wages. Basic eligibility includes: Massachusetts resident, 16 years of age or older, lacking high school diploma. There are no income requirements; however, programs are encouraged to prioritize services to those most in need. Learn more about ABE programs
Through the Alternative Education Initiative (AEI), the City of Boston supports youth to earn their high school diploma or its equivalent. AEI provides funds to eight alternative education programs where youth also receive wrap-around services and develop workforce readiness skills. Eligible youth are Boston residents, ages 16–21.
In 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded 46 American Apprenticeship Initiative grants to public-private partnerships that expand high-quality apprenticeship opportunities in growing industries. The OWD administers this five-year grant to the Greater Boston American Apprenticeship Initiative, which consists of pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs in the construction and hospitality industries.
The Choice Neighborhood Initiative is a grant that works to revitalize part of the Grove Hall and Dudley Street neighborhoods. This includes rehabilitation of the housing units as well as social services for the residents and neighborhood improvements. The goal of the grant is to increase economic stability, connect residents to neighborhood services, and to bolster youth development. OWD is responsible for administering $3,075,000 of this money for social services. OWD contracts with community-based organizations and city agencies to provide an integrated holistic approach to service in the CHOICE neighborhood.
Boston receives Community Development Block Grant funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD, under a formula based on several factors. The funds are received by the City's Department of Neighborhood Development, DND, and are used primarily for affordable housing and economic development. HUD allows cities to use up to 15% of this money for human service programming. DND subcontracts with OWD to manage that portion of the CDBG allocation.
OWD issues competitive Requests for Proposals in order to make awards to non-profits across the city for programming to serve youth and adults. These funds are intended to be used to provide support services to enable individuals to access education or job training and, in turn, obtain the kinds of jobs capable of moving people out of poverty.
The Guide to the Neighborhood Jobs Trust is an explanation of how the Jobs Trust works and what kinds of activities it funds. Developers of commercial and institutional development over 100,000 square feet pay linkage fees to the Neighborhood Jobs Trust and the Neighborhood Housing Trust. In general, Jobs Trust funds are awarded through competitive RFPs issued when enough money has accumulated in the Trust. The current Jobs Trust linkage rate is $1.67/sf.
The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) provides federal formula funds to each state through the Department of Labor. OWD administers Boston's portion, with oversight from the Boston Private Industry Council. WIOA provides funds to twelve alternative education programs across Boston.
Boston's WIOA Title I Youth funds are distributed to alternative education, career exploration, and training programs. Youth have the opportunity to earn a high school diploma or its equivalent, gain work experience, and/or earn a recognized certificate. All WIOA youth complete academic and career assessments which then inform their individualized youth plan. Throughout the program, organizations offer a wide array of supports including: financial literacy, counseling, referrals, subsidized work experience, and mentoring. Youth then take the next step to enroll in post-secondary education, enroll in training programs, and gain employment. Eligible youth are Boston residents, ages 14–24, and face a barrier to employment.
Boston's WIOA Adult funding provides workforce development activities that increase employment, retention, and earnings of participants by increasing occupational skill attainment of participants and improve the quality of the workforce, reduce welfare dependency, and enhance the productivity and competitiveness throughout the country. WIOA encourages business to participate in the local delivery of workforce development services through workforce investment boards, chaired by private sector members of the local community. WIOA funds are distributed annually to low-income Boston residents and job seekers looking to re-enter the workforce after a layoff or plant closure. The Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development (OWD) administers the annual distribution of Individual Training Accounts (ITA) via the two Boston Career Centers. Individuals have the option to receive reemployment services and/or attend occupational skills training programs in a variety of industries and sectors, including healthcare, information technology, culinary arts, and transportation, among others. To apply to become an ITA vendor, please visit the state Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
OWD also administers National Emergency Grants (NEG). NEGs expand the service capacity of WIOA by offering reemployment services to dislocated workers who are affected by plant closings and large layoffs. Boston is presently offering employment and training services to medical and production workers laid off from Radius Specialty Hospital (Roxbury and Quincy), Coolidge House (Brookline) and Quinzani’s Bakery (South End).
Through the YouthWorks Summer Jobs grant and the YouthWorks Year-Round Jobs grant, OWD ensures that Boston youth ages 14-21 are employed year-round. OWD uses these funds to provide area non-profits to provide Boston youth with these services.