The Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development (OWD) has awarded $113,094 in technical assistance grants to four Boston organizations for the integration of workforce preparedness with adult basic education. The OWD issued the grants after seeking input from the Boston Adult Literacy Initiative (ALI), a consortium of 29 adult literacy programs throughout the city, on how best to assist programs in meeting the mandates of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

The grants awarded to the four recipient organizations – Boston Public Schools (BPS), International Institute of New England, Jewish Vocational Service, and Notre Dame Education Center – will support a variety of workforce integration projects. These include staff training, computer literacy programming, curriculum development, and strategies to track students’ workforce outcomes. The populations served range from recent immigrants and English language learners to adults who have returned to school to complete their high school credentials.

The OWD awarded the grants through a request for proposals (RFP) to member organizations of the ALI. The RFP grew out of a year-long effort to identify existing needs for integrating workforce development with adult basic education. These activities were funded by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Adult and Community Learning Services division.

As part of this effort, OWD engaged consulting firm Strategy Matters to analyze the relevant literature, conduct surveys, and interview adult basic education staff among ALI programs. The RFP gave grant applicants the option of fulfilling the Strategy Matters recommendations, which included workplace-specific curriculum development and better assessment tools, or making a case for other needs and solutions. The four grant-funded adult basic education programs will share the results of their projects with their fellow ALI member organizations, so that other local practitioners can learn from their efforts.

The push for classroom integration of job readiness skills has been prompted by the newest Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act legislation. This act, which includes most of the federal funding for adult basic education, mandates greater connections with work-focused career centers and documentation of participants’ job placement and retention.

The funded projects are as follows:

Organization Funding Project
International Institute of New England (IINE) $35,000 Development of a standardized job tracking system across ESOL and workforce development programs
Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) $34,377 Staff training in job development and placement for the Hyde Park ESOL program
Boston Public Schools (BPS) Adult Education $18,717 Revision of the Adult Diploma Pathway curriculum
Notre Dame Education Center $25,000 ESOL-appropriate computer literacy program and an initiative to track students' career outcomes