A partnership of seven organizations, led by Horace Mann Educational Associates (HMEA), was recently awarded a $25,000 program design grant through the Commonwealth’s Learn to Earn (LTE) Initiative. Working with HMEA, Sodexo USA, Cumberland Farms, Worcester Public Schools, Work Without Limits, MassHire Central Workforce Board, and MassHire Central Career Center, a team from the Riverside Employment Collaboratives – Stephanie Marks, Rupali Potnis, Charles Powderly, and David Beccia – will design a training curriculum for positions in food services and hospitality.
The training will be designed specifically for young adults ages 17 to 30 with diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), mental illness, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and/or physical disabilities. Candidates will learn job skills for positions such as chef, kitchen assistant, prep cook, grill cook, and baker/pastry artist and will also learn skills related to catering, merchandising, and product purchasing.
The LTE Initiative “seeks to support individuals who are receiving assistance from public benefit programs in gaining and retaining employment in occupations for which employers have persistent demand,” according to a press release from the Commonwealth. The pilot program will be funded through the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund (WCTF), which is administered by Commonwealth Corporation on behalf of the Workforce Skills Cabinet and the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD).
In the press release, Governor Charlie Baker stated, “These programs lower the barriers that young adults face in seeking employment, while ensuring they continue to receive the support they need. In addition to empowering participants and their families, this initiative also supports Massachusetts businesses who need skilled workers to continue to grow.”
Over the next three months, the partnership team will develop the training plan and related programmatic services for this project. Once the curriculum has been completed, they hope to receive an implementation grant of an additional $300,000 so that training may begin. Congratulations to all of the partners on this new initiative!