It’s been a busy year at Commonwealth Corporation! Here’s a look back at some of our accomplishments in 2019:
DYS Art Showcase Raises $7,800 for Youth Artists
More than 400 youth, community leaders and families gathered to celebrate and view art created by youth in Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) programs at the 7th Annual DYS “Share Your Art, Share Your Voice!” event on Tuesday, May 14. Held at WGBH Studios in Brighton, this year’s statewide event featured 260 art pieces for sale created by 100 young artists. All the creativity showcased was developed by youth in the care of DYS (youth in residential programs, in the community, and Y.E.S. youth). Young people submitted artwork for the showcase, were paid for their participation, and could sell their work.
SSYI Expand to Serve Young Women, New Cities
Starting in FY20, proven risk young women will be added to the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI) service population. SSYI also added two new cities this year: Haverhill and most recently North Adams. The initiative began in 11 cities and with the two additions now serves 14 cities.
Beyond School Hours Conference
In February, Charline Alexandre (left) represented CommCorp at the Beyond School Hours national education conference in Atlanta. Charline explained the programs CommCorp offers and how we engage young adults in developing transferable skills useful for seeking employment!
CommCorp and MassHire Collaborate on Addiction and Recovery Training
This year, frontline MassHire Career Center staff received training on addiction recovery and trauma-informed approach to mental health to better understand the barriers that some customers are facing as they look for jobs in a tight labor market. CommCorp partnered with the MassHire Department of Career Services to coordinate and deliver the training this past spring and fall. Both trainings were held across the state in five locations.
Learn to Earn Launches Pilots for People with Disabilities
In the FY19 state budget appropriated additional funding to Learn to Earn line The steering committee asked Comm Corp to support program design and implementation for two new pilots that have an explicit focus on serving people with disabilities who receive public assistance supports. The LTE Steering Committee and CC received eight proposals and awarded $50,000 in Program Design grant awards to two partnerships. After engaging in approximately three months of planning and partnership building activities throughout the late Spring and summer, each partnership was awarded an Implementation grant of up to 2 years for an additional total of ~$600,000.
First-Ever YouthWorks Professional Convenings Held
CommCorp held its first-ever YouthWorks Professional Convenings during August in Worcester and Quincy. These events brought together more than 200 young people who participated in the YouthWorks Summer Jobs program and 70 employers and partners for two days of learning and networking.
YouthWorks Evolves Program Model, RFP
YouthWorks is changing to an innovative program model with a tiered approach that is age, stage and path appropriate, building off two decades of commitment to youth. Also, this year YouthWorks released its first single RFP for year round funding, a change from previous practice of release separate summer and year-round RFPs.
Community Service Day
CommCorp spent one April morning helping sort and packing donations at Cradles to Crayons. Between CommCorp and teams from New Balance, Learning Prep and Abington Schools, 433 kids were helped in a few hours.
CommCorp Wins Competitive Governors Association Grant
On behalf of the state, Commonwealth Corporation won a $150,000 grant and consulting support in the National Governors Association’s “Educate for Opportunity” grant competition. This funding will help advance our work to better understand the market of adult learners in Massachusetts, and advance ideas for how state and federal financial aid resources could be better utilized to support adult learners.
Reinventing Work Initiative Presents Phase I Findings, Begins Phase II Design
The Reinventing Work Initiative hosted an event on Oct. 16 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to present its Phase I findings, and on Dec. 10 hosted its first Phase II design session. CommCorp and EOLWD are partnering with the Boston Fed on this initiative to better understand the challenges and opportunities that exist to redesign jobs for lower-income or entry-level workers.
Lifelong Learning RFQ Released
On June 12, CommCorp released an RFQ for creating digitally enabled, competency-based training for entry-level health care workers. It’s the first step taken to implement the recommendations of Gov. Charlie Baker’s Commission on Digital Innovation and Lifelong Learning. Funded by a Strada Education Network grant and the Senator Kenneth J. Donnelly Workforce Success Grants, CommCorp will award three $200,000 grants to partnerships of employers and higher education institutions/training organizations.
First Sen. Donnelly Grants Awarded through WCTF
Local and state officials joined Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta, CommCorp staff, MassHire partners and First Student Inc. workers at First Student Inc. in Marlborough on Thursday, Sept. 26 for the announcement of the first-ever round of Senator Kenneth J. Donnelly Workforce Success Grants for FY19 through the Workforce Competitive Trust Fund (WCTF).
STEM Research Brief Released at Boston Foundation Event
Hands-on learning, employer partnerships & building skill pathways are among the most important actions the state can take to address the diversity gap in STEM occupations, panelists said at a STEM Week event on Oct. 24 hosted by The Boston Foundation. Secretary Acosta opened the event with an overview of the workforce data in Commonwealth Corporation’s “See Yourself in STEM” research brief, compiled by Evaluation Director Gene White.
BOG is Now L.E.A.D.
The Bridging the Opportunity Gap (BOG) Initiative is now L.E.A.D.: Leadership, Employment, and Advocacy Development. DYS-involved youth are learning to L.E.A.D. as they transition back to their community and attain the skills required to find a job. Through real-work experiences with L.E.A.D. grantees, these youth can practice self-advocacy and self-awareness skills, build relationships with supportive adults and peers, and gain leadership, employability and life skills.