DESE Funding Allocated for Education and Workforce Development Programs in South Boston

BOSTON – Two South Boston nonprofits were recently awarded substantial grants from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for workforce development, adult basic education, and English language education programming. Julie’s Family Learning Program and the Laboure Center were the two recipients, after securing the competitive grants following continued advocacy from State Senator Nick Collins and State Representative David Biele. The funds allocated were part of the annual appropriations the Legislature approved in the FY20 Budget for DESE. 

“These programs have a proven impact on families and residents in South Boston and beyond. I was proud to be able to work with Rep. Biele and DESE official to keep these critical resources in the community,” said State Senator Nick Collins. “This is a great example of how the Legislative and Executive branches can work together with community based programs to better serve those in need.” The announcement comes in the aftermath of the abrupt closure of the Notre Dame Ed Center.

Each nonprofit will receive about $600,000 to serve a total of nearly 400 students in family literacy programs, English proficiency classes, and general workforce development education curriculum. Historically allocated as a larger, single grant, Senator Collins and Representative Biele were able to collaborate with DESE to split the funding into two segments to ensure South Boston nonprofit organizations would be eligible. 

“These grants will make an immediate impact among our most vulnerable populations and help put them on the path to future success,” said State Representative David Biele. “I was proud to work with Sen. Collins to advocate for these grants and investments in our community.” 

“We are grateful to Senator Collins, Representative Biele, and all of the elected officials who worked tirelessly to ensure that these services remained in this neighborhood,” said Jake Bombard, Director of Catholic Charities Laboure Center. “Our programs in South Boston serve clients for whom English language proficiency is critical in helping them move from minimum wage to a living wage,” he added.  

“Being awarded this grant provides Julie’s with an opportunity to deeply broaden our affirmative impact upon a population so desperately lacking in help from an outstretched hand,” said Sharon Asiaf of Julie’s. “The DESE Grant gives Julie’s the ability to continue servicing disadvantaged ABE students participating in the former NDEC programing. At the same time, Julie’s is now able to continue providing needed services amongst our current enrollees thereby widening our outreach which is surrounded by support & promise. The end result shall be recognized by how this DESE Grant shall foster family legacies to be based upon encouragement and assurance as opposed to abandonment and timidity.”

This round of grant funding was announced last week. Five proposals were submitted for the competitive grant program, and these two were selected after making the most compelling case for community impact of the funds.