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Educational Support and Workforce Development

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Through it's Department of Human Services programs (DHSP), the City offers a range of educational and workforce development programs for all sectors of the community, including the Birth to 3rd Grade Partnership, Inclusion Initiative, and Cambridge STEAM Initiative for families, and the Mayor's Summer Youth Employment, College Success Initiative, career exploration, and transitional jobs programs for Cambridge teens and young adults. The Community Learning Center empowers a diverse community of adult learners to transform their lives and realize their potential through education, skills development, and community participation. Below are some highlights from the past fiscal year:

The Birth to 3rd Grade Partnership (B3),
continued low-income families, adding two new programs to its menu of preschool options, and also increased its number of children accessing B3 scholarships by 13%. B3 expanded its partnership with CAAS Head Start, providing funding so that Head Start could offer its programs to participants for a full day year-round at both of its Cambridge sites. B3 redesigned its Continuous Quality Improvement Program (CQIP) to align with state quality efforts and ensure full participation by all scholarship sites. B3 continued to expand free professional development workshops and college courses for teachers in Cambridge early learning centers, offering five college course this year. B3 engaged in a strategic planning process for Universal Pre-K (UPK) in Cambridge in preparation for coordinating the early childhood educator ecosystem to implement UPK.

The Inclusion Initiative, based out of DHSP, supported individuals with disabilities and their families to participate in out-of-school time programs including Community Schools, Youth Programs, Childcare, and King Open Extended Day.

The Agenda for Children Out-of-School Time (AFCOST), a joint initiative of the Department of Human Services, Cambridge Public Schools, and Nonprofit Out-of-School- Time (OST) organizations, supported 205 OST professionals from 54 OST programs with opportunities for professional development, healing, and growth to provide children, youth, and families with equitable access to quality out of school time programs. This included their 9th annual OST Symposium with keynote speaker Dr. Shawn Ginwright.

The Office of Workforce Development (OWD), based out of the Department of Human Service Programs, partnered with Innovators for Purpose to pay students to work in a social justice-oriented design and innovation studio. OWD also collaborated with Cambridge STEAM Initiative to support high school students in a Science Research Mentoring Program at the Harvard and Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and MIT. OWD continued to operate the Youth Employment Center at  CRLS, helping teens find and apply for afterschool jobs and internships, and to convene the Reaching All Youth Committee, a group of service providers who meet to share resources and best practices for teens.

Cambridge Works, the City’s transitional jobs program for adults aged 18 to 35, returned to fully in-person programming and offered participants paid internships as well as intensive case management, soft skills development, and job search assistance.

Next Up, the Office of Workforce Development’s career exploration program for young adults, aged 18-24, who have graduated from high school but don’t have a clear plan for what’s next, also returned to in-person workshops and internships.

The Cambridge Employment Program (CEP), which provides free job search assistance to adults, continued to offer virtual resumes services, while welcoming back job seekers who preferred to meet face to face.

The Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program (MSYEP) placed hundreds of teens in summer jobs throughout the city, providing teens with a valuable educational and paid employment experience.

The Cambridge STEAM Initiative collaborated with the Birth to Third Grade Partnership to organize a workshop series for Preschool/JK/K Out-of-School Time staff focused on environments and activities that foster curiosity. Staff have engaged local STEAMers to deliver workshops, promoting shared learning and connection. The STEAM Initiative is partnering with Science Club for Girls, Broad Institute, Cambridge School Volunteers, Lemelson MIT, MIT Museum to develop a Spaces of Belonging training system for industry and community volunteers to ensure that all adults who mentor Cambridge’s diverse young people engage through an anti-racist lens to create spaces of belonging. Teen focus groups were organized to assess the impact and efficacy of the training and its resonance. The STEAM Initiative also ran a successful outdoor STEAM It Up! event in North Cambridge in Fall 2021, attracting hundreds of Cambridge families.

The STEAM Initiative continues to support the work of math-focused, youth-serving organizations, including the Young People’s Project, MathTalk, and Tutoring Plus, to advance the Math Matters for Equity project, which empowers residents in the most under-resourced neighborhoods to cultivate a community of math learners and advocates for Black and Brown students who are most impacted by the inequities of the education system. In spring 2022, installations began on the Bob Moses MathTrail in The Port neighborhood, introducing playful math activities that connect to young people’s everyday lives.

The Cambridge STEAM Initiative collaborated with the City’s IT Department to launch a new website in April 2022 that provides a one-stop shop for residents and educators to easily access information, including: the Library’s take-home K-12 STEAM@Home activity kits for families; online resources that align with the STEAM@ Home activities; curriculum resources for educators; information about adult training programs, and more. Visit Cambridgema.gov/STEAM.

Hive Makerspace and STEAM Academy. As part of the City’s commitment to STEAM, the state-of-the-art Hive makerspace opened at Cambridge Public Library (CPL) in July 2021. As of March 2022, 881 members of the public have taken their first class and CPL has hosted community partners in the space, including Innovators for Purpose (IfP), Moore Youth Center, and RAUC. CPL collaborated with IfP on another year of partnership with the STEAM Academy for 77 students who will learn design, math, technology, and presentation skills through real-world design work. Students continued to explore robotics, programming, game design, graphic design, augmented reality design experiences, podcasting, writing, editing and book publishing, and strategic planning with business and City leaders.

The Community Learning Center (CLC) celebrated its 50th anniversary, recognizing students, staff, and volunteers through a robust communications and social media campaign. CLC continued to offer English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes; Adult Basic Education classes for adults who need a high school diploma; civics education; the Bridge to College program, and the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Training Program for English Language Learners. It also launched a new CNA Training Program, in partnership with Laboure College of Health of Healthcare, targeted toward Cambridge residents who are fluent English speakers. Additionally, CLC continued to offer individualized education and career advising to students. Learn more at Cambridgema.gov/CLC.

The College Success Initiative (CSI) continued to support students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds in higher education complete post-secondary degrees within 6 years. CSI coaches offered supports to incoming students both in-person and virtually, to complete enrollment, financial aid verification, and other tasks. In spring 2022, CSI Coaches held drop-in sessions at CRLS to meet with students interested in attending Bunker Hill Community College or UMass Boston. CSI also hosted a celebration of first-generation college graduates from across the city to celebrate their accomplishments. Learn more at Cambridgema.gov/collegesuccess.

Just A Start Youth Build, working in collaboration with City Housing staff, provided building rehab training opportunities to 38 at-risk youth.

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