As a new, innovative center, CONNECT colocates and integrates resources to address the financial, educational, employment, and housing needs of the residents of Chelsea, Massachusetts and surrounding communities. The six partners seek to create a welcoming, supportive environment that participants utilize to establish financial and career goals and engage in multiple center activities to reach those goals. CONNECT staff helps each participant to identify their needs and put together an appropriate set of services, while also facilitating the “Success Teams.”
Service providers work with center staff as part of a core services team to coordinate services so they are integrated into a package of effective services leading each participant toward his/her defined goals. For needs that extend beyond CONNECT’s services, CONNECT maintains connections with social, health, and other service providers so participants can access their services.
- Housing services: Access to affordable housing vouchers, tenant education, apartment search assistance, outreach to households eligible for participation in the federal Family Self-Sufficiency Program, and other services leading to stable affordable housing;
- Financial education and services: financial coaching, financial education, banking, tax preparation, and benefits access;
- Skill development and employment: career coaching, English for Speakers of Other Languages, Pre-GED, job search assistance, job search workshops, computer literacy, introduction to college workshops, and college application assistance; and
- Asset development: banking services, asset preservation workshops for homeowners, and small business ownership workshops and support.
- Bunker Hill Community College is based in Charlestown with a satellite Chelsea facility;
- CareerSource Center is part of the state of Massachusetts’ One-Stop Career Center system;
- Centro Latino is a respected multi-service workforce development agency;
- The Metro Credit Union is headquartered in Chelsea and provides financial services;
- The Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership assists 600 homeless and low-income households in Chelsea and thousands regionally with housing stabilization services; and
- The Neighborhood Developers is a community development corporation engaged in benefits screening, financial education and asset development programming.
Learn more about CONNECT and our grantees, The Neighborhood Developers and Centro Latino.
Mujeres Unidas Avanzando
The mission of Mujeres Unidas Avanzando (MUA) is to meet the educational needs of low-income Latina women in Greater Boston by helping them build skills for full, self-sufficient lives, and they have been doing so for nearly three decades. MUA provides free classes and social services to these women with limited education or English language skills to affect social, political, and liberating changes in their families, community, and society. The classes provided are Native Language Literacy, Computer, and ESOL classes, and the social services are comprised of required health workshops and trainings, career and education workshops, career and educational counseling, help with college and job applications, individual counseling, and field trips to community colleges, the State House, public libraries, the Freedom Trail, etc. Free on-site child-care is available to mothers during class hours and activity.
Learn more about our grantee, Mujeres Unidas Avanzando.
Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic
The Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic (NCLC) offers pro bono legal representation and preventative law education to low income inner-city and immigrant families, and they do so via nine intake sites located throughout the greater Indianapolis area. NCLC only accepts clients whose income is at or below 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. NCLC’s Immigrants in Crisis project helps support a just and equitable society by addressing the legal needs of immigrant and refugee populations and assisting them to successfully integrate into American society.
Learn more about our grantee, Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic.
Indy Reads’ mission is to improve the literacy skills of adults in Central Indiana who read or write at or below the sixth grade level. Their goal is to "Make Indianapolis 100% Literate." Indy Reads has a new source of revenue – Indy Reads Books, an independent bookstore located in downtown Indianapolis. Here is why customers are purchasing books:
- Books are marked at greatly discounted prices;
- Their money is going to a good cause in the Indianapolis community;
- They have the option to “read and return” their books to IRB; and
- The profits of IRB go straight to reducing illiteracy in the community.
Indy Reads Books invites local authors to hold book signings and events in their space. This brings exposure to the authors and the new Indy Reads Books.
Learn more about our grantee, Indy Reads.
African Community International, Inc.
In the past ten years, Indianapolis and its surrounding communities have experienced a significant increase in the number of African immigrants and by the year 2008, it is estimated that the overall population of native Africans in Central Indiana will grow to more than 22,800. These newcomers are from more than 34 African countries and arrive to face a multitude of barriers and challenges as they prepare for a new life in a new country.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has determined that many Africans who arrive in this country organize themselves around self-help in order to assist their own members in fostering long-term community growth and securing employment and other social services. To that end, African Community International, Inc. helps African immigrants with a variety of needs including, but not limited to English as a Second Language (ESL); classes ranging from citizenship and social norms to basic computer training and workforce preparation; as well as job search assistance, translation, and referrals to other service providers.
The Language Laboratory and Literacy Project (LLLP)
To assess the most pressing needs facing African immigrants, The African Center conducts annual interviews with recently arrived adults and youth. Information collected from these interviews confirmed that the ability to communicate was central to a meaningful and successful transition to life in the United States. Therefore, in April 2004, African Community International initiated a project that would be executed in phases over a period of three years. This project established an in-house Language Multimedia Laboratory and Literacy Unit that serves all African immigrants and refugees in the community. Participants can attend various classes at the facility and increase their language and computer literacy. When participants complete a level or stage of the program, they are rewarded for their hard work with items of their choice including clothes, food, books, or even a donated and restored computer. The project has been extremely successful in serving as a gateway to other resources for the participants. In addition, the participation of young adults has motivated parents or older generations to become more actively involved with The African Center.
James Dean Le Blac (left) is just one of five recent graduates of the Second Helpings Culinary Job Training Partner Program. The program helps train disadvantaged adults with culinary skills. In the graduation program, James noted the following:
“As you can see from my name, I was a rebel before I could be a rebel. James Dean lived his life to the fullest—full + fast. I was born in a small town in western Illinois, fifteen minutes from Ronald Reagan’s hometown. So, being multicultural and a democrat, the cards were stacked against me. But my grandmother said, ‘If you can believe in one person in life, believe in yourself, and others are sure to follow.’ Thank you Chef Brown, for not only being my instructor, but taking it to a personal level also. I am homeless. I have mental health issues. I also have prior substance abuse issues. Because of Second Helpings program, I not only believe in myself and what I can accomplish — but that there are others who believe in me and what I can accomplish one hundred and ten percent.”
James is currently employed as a prep cook at Smokey Bones located downtown Indianapolis. This is a brand new location, and James had the opportunity to help the manager prepare for the grand opening which was a great learning experience! “He’s come a long way, and we are very proud of him!” said Jill Shelton, Director of Development.
About Job-Training at Second Helpings
Many adults lack the skills to find employment at a living wage. For this reason, they and their families must live below the poverty line. At the same time, the food service industry often struggles for lack of skilled employees.
Second Helping's ten week professional culinary job-training program is designed to provide the skills necessary to start a career in the food service industry. They have successfully placed over 70% of their graduates in positions upon completion of their program and 72% remain employed after six months. Their own full-time culinary instructor, Sam Brown, teaches the classes. Guest chefs incorporate hands-on kitchen work, lectures, videos, classroom activities and field trips. Graduates are also eligible to receive 3 credits from the culinary program at Ivy Tech.
Students come from diverse backgrounds. Many students come to Second Helpings through the recommendation of caseworkers or job counselors. The program offers an excellent opportunity for adults who are motivated but lack job-skills.
According to the National Restaurant Association and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment opportunities in the restaurant industry will increase by two million job openings in the next seven years - a projected growth of 1.7%, exceeding all other industries nationwide. By completing the Second Helpings job training program, trainees develop skills and professionalism that are in high demand in the food service industry. The average starting wage for a Second Helpings graduate is $8.75 an hour.
Second Helpings, Inc., a non-profit food rescue and job-training program serving greater Indianapolis, safely utilizes rescued food to educate and train adults for positions in the culinary field and to distribute nutritious meals to shelters for the disadvantaged. Click here to visit their website.
Local Initiatives Support Corporation
As the managing entity for the local Center for Working Families (CWF) network sites, LISC Indianapolis helps to: standardize the adoption of standards, criteria and evaluation; strengthen strategic and funding partnerships; and foster a community of practice. CWF sites offer a full range of employment services, income supports and financial literacy in one convenient neighborhood-based location.
Key components for the model's success are:
- Systematic "bundling" of services (clients often start with one service and are led to access other supports.)
- One-on-one financial coaching
- Long-term and intense engagement
- Performance management and data tracking
Indianapolis CWF sites include:
Read more about the CWF network in Indianapolis.
Learn more about our grantee, LISC Indianapolis.
The Immigrant Worker Initiative builds the power of immigrants and workers of color to mobilize for safe and healthy work conditions by:
- Educating workers about their rights;
- Encouraging and supporting collective action by workers from the same industry or workplace; and
- Connecting workers with unions and community groups to address gaps in government protections for immigrants and low-wage workers.
In 2010, MassCOSH built a cadre of 100 immigrant worker leaders who engage in participatory action research to identify and document workplace violations, encourage involvement by co-workers, and serve as outreach volunteers. Over 15,000 additional individuals were reached through public awareness activities. Examples of workers' successes include eliminating the use of toxic chemicals and reducing by half the backbreaking workload of hotel housekeepers, garnering wages of $85,000 cumulatively owed to construction and restaurant workers and a commitment to comply with labor laws and obtaining urgent medical and wage benefits through workers compensation for landscaping, factory, construction and hotel workers. Immigrant leaders also played a leadership role in advancing stronger safety and other labor protection policies including support for a Temp Worker Right to Know Bill and against a budget amendment that would have impeded the rights of immigrants.
Visit the website of MassCOSH to learn more about its mission and programs.