Category Archives: SJC Advisory Committee

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Update

On the heels of the Secure Jobs Advisory Committee’s very successful Career Services Workshop on 11/15/17, with over 70 people in attendance, the group decided it was time to take stock of how to build on that success and make best use of the Committee.
At our last meeting on December 13 (attending: Luis Arzola, CHD, Ashley Brehm, Way Finders, Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Lisa Lapierre, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Maegan Pedemonti, Way Finders), the group, also in consultation with Konrad Rogowska of FutureWorks and  Pamela Wojtkowski of BerkshireWorks, made some important decisions around the Secure Jobs Advisory Committee.
In summary, the group is changing its name to the Career Services Committee and has decided to take a broader scope in its mission beyond the Secure Jobs Initiative, which due to reduced state funding over recent years (and Way Finders’ innovative in-house ways to continue to employ people far in excess of its state contract goals), now needs to refine its purpose and mission.
Towards that end, the Network in conjunction with core committee members – each career center and Secure Jobs – will convene a focus group-style meeting with specific stakeholders to brainstorm how to best serve the region in our shared goal to increase employment for those at risk of or experiencing homelessness. This meeting will include representatives from: community colleges, literacy centers, community action agencies, family resource centers, housing and shelter providers. If you are among those listed, please stay tuned for a meeting date in late January.
We look forward to being back in touch in February with our clarified focus and next meeting date for the entire committee.

Career Centers Meet Network: Congratulations to all!

Yesterday afternoon at Holyoke Community College, 75 people attended a Network sponsored Career Services Training to learn about employment related resources available for people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Special thanks to every Career Center in our region, as well as Way Finders’ Secure Jobs Program, for providing such an excellent training, especially to: Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Lisa Lapierre, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Maegan Pedemonti, Way Finders Secure Jobs Program, Konrad Rogowski, FutureWorks, and Pamela Wojtkowski, BerkshireWorks, all of whom participated in an excellent presentation.  Stay tuned for the materials in an upcoming blog post.

And thanks to our Network partners who really brought home what it is to be a Network: from housing to health care to child care to domestic violence services to sheriffs’ offices to the Veterans Administration to multiple state agencies, almost every sector of our community across our four counties was represented in that room, all joined in the mission to make permanent housing a reality for all in Western Massachusetts.

Finally, a big thanks to Holyoke Community College for receiving a last minute call for space as a result of unanticipated overflow in numbers  for our initially reserved space.  HCC provided us the beautiful Kittredge Center space in an instant.  We are so grateful for the partnership.

Great work, everyone!

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Minutes – 7/11/17

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee
July 11, 2017

In attendance: Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Madeline Martinez, Way Finders, Johnny Miranda, Way Finders, Maegan Pedemonti, Way Finders, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Rep. Aaron Vega, Holyoke 

Progress Report:  The program met its own internal goal of 100 job placements in FY17.   Fantastic work! Congratulations!

Click here for further breakdowns.

Maegan will be updating the housing retention data for FY17 in the next few weeks.

Rep. Vega suggested breaking out the data to compare the housing outcomes for families who receive HomeBASE or shelter without Secure Jobs assistance and those who do, i.e., the difference Secure Jobs makes.  Maegan said she can pull that out in her analysis.

We also discussed the value of more closely understanding the breakdown between full and part-time employment; the numbers who began in part-time and evolved to full-time; and/ the numbers who needed to work only part-time in order to avoid the “cliff effect” (loss of other benefits with too much income).  Rep. Vega underscored how valuable it would be to collect data regarding the cliff effect and how it impacts the people the program serves.

We will check back in on this data at our next meeting.

CareerPoint Update: – Bud provided an update on various programs, including:

the Disability Employment Institute for youth ages 14 -24 years.  It is a 3 year grant, in partnership with FutureWorks, that provides a wide range of services to a wide range of individuals (it is self-attested disability).

Ticket to Work program, which is a program to assist people on SSI/SSDI to create a path to employment without risking loss of income through loss of benefits (a slow and steady path). a

Workforce Investment Opportunity Act: training funds are now available through WIOA – eligible adults include low-income and dislocated workers

Bud also reported on the increased collaboration between CareerPoint and FutureWorks, including a regional approach with businesses, the creation of a regional talent bank, and a shared triage process to determine job readiness and best matches for available positions.  This is a great development!

FY18 State Budget Update:

The Conference Committee completed its budget and unfortunately cut funding for Secure Jobs from $800,000 last year to $650,000 in FY18.  The budget now awaits the Governor’s signature or vetoes.  The budget also moved the program to DTA.  Maegan reported her understanding that DTA was likely to apportion funding equally across all 7 programs statewide as opposed to on a performance basis (less advantageous to our program since we are a very high performer).

However, despite this cut, Way Finders is leveraging its resources internally to keep the program intact and growing.  A new employment specialist has been hired (internally) and they are now integrating RAFT, Stabilization and Secure Jobs in a way that maximizes the combination of workforce development and financial literacy skill development.

The one clear consequence of this state funding loss is the lack of capacity to expand Secure Jobs funding in the Three County region.

Also click here for the breakdown of the Conference Committee budget in relation to all Network priorities.

Homelessness Resource Fair:  The group exchanged on the success of this year’s fair and Pamela shared Holyoke Community College’s offer of space for next year.  We have set a date: Thursday, June 14, 2018, 9 am – 1 pm.  We will have the Kittredge Center’s multi-purpose room and 4 classrooms for break-out sessions.

Hampden County training/resource sharing? Rep. Vega noted his attendance at a legislative breakfast offered at Way Finders where WF walked through all of its resources.  He was very impressed and suggested that a similar sharing – with other partners – could be useful to people across the region.  We discussed further and the group agreed to plan for a training/orientation in October.  Pamela will follow-up after Maegan returns from vacation in early August and we will be prepared to talk further at our Sept. meeting and set a date for October.

Next meeting date: Wed., 9/6, 11 am, Holyoke Public Library (subject to confirmation)

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Minutes – 4/5/17

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Meeting
April 5, 2017

In attendance: Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Dawn Distefano, Square One, Madeline Martinez, Way Finders, Maegan Pedemonti, Way Finders, Pamela Schwartz, Network

Progress Report:  Click here. There were 4 additional placements last month, one with a wage of $18/hour, bringing the average wage over $13/hour.

The success story this time featured the collaboration with Aaron’s Furniture which now always seeks out Way Finders program participants when there are job openings, including putting a special link on their website specifically addressed to Way Finders participants (see:

We discussed the possibility of the Advisory Committee hosting an “employer appreciation” event to draw attention to this and other similar practices. We will discuss this further at our next meeting. We noted that we could do a smaller version of the previous SJ events at HCC, presumably for Hampden County only, but that would afford participants on all levels to pause and appreciate the impact of their efforts.

Legislative Meetings Update

Pamela reviewed the series of meetings with legislators – 10 legislators met with thus far – Senator Lesser, Rep. Vega, Rep.Gonzalez, Rep. Tosado, Rep.Williams, Rep. Velis, Rep. Mark, Rep. Farley-Bouvier, and on Friday will be meeting with Senator Rosenberg, Rep. Kulik, Rep. Kocot and Rep. Scibak. Meetings are in the works for Senator Hinds, Senator Humason and Senator Welch.

Secure Jobs has been discussed at all the meetings; Ashley has attended and presented at most and the data demonstrating impact is very well received.

At the meeting with Rep. Farley Bouvier in Pittsfield, the Representative expressed concern about the lack of SJ resources going to the Berkshires. At the meeting, we explained about the funding cuts statewide that had a direct impact on funding in our region. After this meeting, Ken Demers of BerkshireWorks and Brad Gordon of Berkshire Regional Housing Authority and Pamela had a conference call to review the Berkshires Secure Jobs program. Ken suggested that without a designated staff person it is virtually impossible to obtain the level of engagement necessary from the head of household to successfully participate in the program (especially because predominantly RAFT clients, so incentive to participate is that much less compelling); that a performance based contract does not deal with the staffing need. Ken also noted that the program has not yet had a full year of adequate staffing due to internal staffing challenges (the one successful 6 month period of case management by Pamela Wojtkowski saw 10 placements, i.e., with appropriate staffing, outcomes are meaningful). We agreed that depending on the funding outcome for next year, the committee would propose renewed discussion around the funding question for Berkshire and Franklin/Hampshire Counties.

Move to Work (MTW) and Learn to Earn:

The group discussed these two programs.

MTW is funded through HUD money. DHCD’s annual plan includes allocating significant MTW funds ($800m?) to Secure Jobs to attach housing vouchers to SJ participants. We will learn more about this.

Learn to Earn is a a new program proposed in the Governor’s budget that would be administered through the Commonwealth Corporation and would provide a very Secure Jobs-like model – case management plus flexible funds – but available to all unemployed and under-employed individuals. It will be interesting to see how this program unfolds.

Other items:

Bud noted that CareerPoint is attending many meetings with DTA to discuss their increased involvement in the workforce system. And WIOA is also requiring closer collaborations among a wide range of groups.

The group also discussed the Working Cities Grant which is addressing the Cliff Effect with the creation of a fund to provide assistance to offset any loss in benefits from employment. Part of the proposal includes hiring 2 additional DTA workers to provide intensive case management around these issues. We debated the pros and cons of having the workers based at DTA vs. in a community agency.

Next meeting date: Wed 6/7, 11 am – 12 noon