Category Archives: SJC Advisory Committee


Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes – 1/4/17

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee
January 4, 2017

 In attendance: Ashley Brehm, HAPHousing, Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Joanne LaCour, DTA, Lisa Lapierre, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Madeline Martinez, HAPHousing, Johnny Miranda, HAPHousing, Maegan Pedemonti, HAPHousing, George Ryan, Hampshire County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Maricelli Serrano, BerkshireWorks

December 2016 Progress Report: Click here.
Hampden County: 7 placements in December, average wage of $12.25 (great progress!). Success story shared (see progress report) – fantastic work!

Franklin/Hampshire County: 3 enrollments and 4 referrals in process. Referrals coming from Greenfield Family Inn (ServiceNet) – good relationship building – and within the CEIS programs. Also utilizing WIOA to pay for CNA training. Good leveraging of resources.

Berkshire County: no new enrollments. Continuing to support ongoing enrollee who is placed and happy in her employment.

Other updates:
CareerPoint and FutureWorks have been recertified under WIOA and are working on collaboration to pool resources and integrate and maximize capacity, e.g., sharing business services staff. All One Stops are working under WIOA on new focus on populations facing barriers, including the homeless population.

FutureWorks (Kevin Lynn) and HAP (Ashley Brehm) met prior to this meeting (with Pamela, too) to discuss expanding collaboration. Ashley and Kevin will follow-up around creating a point of contact at FW and other pathways to maximizing the utilization of resources.

Mayor Meetings:
We reviewed the upcoming schedule of meetings with Mayors’ offices:

Holyoke: January 10, 3:30 pm, Holyoke City Hall
with Mayor Alex Morse
Secure Jobs: Ashley, Bud, Pamela and possibly a representative from HCC

Springfield: Thursday, January 12, 10 am, 70 Tapley Street, Springfield
with Kevin Kennedy, Chief Development Officer; Gerry McCafferty, Director of Housing
Secure Jobs: Ashley, Kevin, John (STCC), Pamela

Chicopee: week of Jan. 16th (to be determined)
with Mike Vedovelli, the Director of Community and Economic Development;
Kathleen Lingenberg, head of CDBG Action Planning process.
Secure Jobs: Ashley, Bud, Pamela and possibly Stephen Huntley of VOC
Note: since our meeting, this date has been established for Friday, 1/20, 9:30 am, Chicopee City Hall

We agreed our agenda would be to introduce Secure Jobs, demonstrate the impact the program has on homelessness and economic development and launch a discussion around possible areas of collaboration. Our measures of success from this meeting are: (1) city official investment in the continued success of this program (as evidenced by willingness to collaborate) and (2) a point of contact in each city around employment opportunities.

Maegan will provide hand-out summarizing impact.

Next meeting date: Feb. 1, 11 am – 12:15, Holyoke Public Library

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Minutes – 12/7/16

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee
December 7, 2016

In attendance: Ashley Brehm, HAPHousing, Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Joanne LaCour, DTA, Lisa Lapierre, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, John Lewis, STCC, Madeline Martinez, HAPHousing, Johnny Miranda, HAPHousing, Maegan Pedemonti, HAPHousing, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Maricelli Serrano, BerkshireWorks

November Progress Report (Hampden County): Click here. 49 placements so far, well in excess of 37 placement goal for fiscal year. Great success stories (see attachment for more detail).

Franklin/Hampshire update: Lisa reported their program is working with 7 referrals as of now. Will have enrolled participants soon. Two participants are working with the CEIS program and Secure Jobs is providing important additional support.

Berkshire update: Maricelli reported that one person has been hired.

WIOA update: A statewide partners conference was held earlier this week (many of the people around this table attended). Bud shared the two-fold challenge of WIOA: respond to business’ employment needs and meet the employment needs of challenged populations. Sometimes these goals can push up against each other. But the lower employment rate overall puts a focus on finding employment for the harder-to-serve populations. CareerPoint reported a total of 212 people identified as homeless have used their services since July, 2016.

Secure Jobs State Agency Update: Ashley reported on the statewide meetings regarding the state agency shift for the program. It is almost definite that DTA will be the new state agency home for Secure Jobs in FY18. DTA and DHCD are in close conversations, developing an MOU between them to work out the details of the collaboration. We agreed this could be a very positive move with DTA’s determination to meet barriers facing participants. We also acknowledged the connecting work of Linn Torto, executive director of the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness.

Policy/advocacy focus discussion: We agreed that our educational efforts around Secure Jobs will focus first on outreach to Hampden County mayors. Pamela will reach out for separate meetings with Springfield, Holyoke and Chicopee mayors. We will include: Ashley (representing Secure Jobs), Pamela (representing the Network), Career Center serving each city, educational representative (e.g, STCC, HCC, VOC). For HCC, Pamela will reach out to Kermit Dunkleberg – assistant vp for business and education (via Jeff Hayden). Pamela will be in touch after initial contact is made.

The focus of the meeting will be educating the city leaders about the program and to engage in dialogue about possible partnerships.

Next meeting: Jan 4, 11 – 12:15, Holyoke Public Library (subject to confirmation)

Secure Jobs Statewide Update – Western MA success!

The Paul and Phyllis Fireman Charitable Foundation, in conjunction with DHCD, just released this report on the impact of the Secure Jobs program statewide thus far this fiscal year.

Click here to see how our Western MA program, through the leadership of HAPHousing, is leading the way on job placements.  Congratulations to the fantastic collaboration!

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Meeting Minutes – 10/5/16

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Meeting
October 5, 2016

In attendance: Ashley Brehm, HAP, Bud Delphin, Dawn DiStefano, Square One, CareerPoint, George Kohout, STCC, Representative Peter Kocot, Joanne LaCour, DTA, Lisa Lapierre, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Madeline Martinez, HAP, Maegan Pedemonti, HAP, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Maricelli Serrano, BerkshireWorks, Chris Skerritt, HAP, Representative Aaron Vega

Secure Jobs Progress Report – September 2016
Click here for report.
32 placements thus far this fiscal year (total goal for year – 37 – will far exceed!)
413 placements over all years
$12.61 average wage for September
$11.98 for the year thus far – making steady progress on increasing hourly wage

Housing retention data newly available and the numbers show:
41 families in job placements through Secure Jobs have moved from HomeBase subsidies to private market apartments
56 families living in shelter have been placed (and are in process of moving to housing)
4 families have moved from shelter to HomeBase to private housing

Representative Kocot inquired about the families being served in Franklin, Hampshire and Berkshire Counties. Ashley noted that HAP is entering into performance based contracts with Franklin/Hampshire Career Center and BerkshireWorks; families will have access to same support on an as needed basis.

Representative Kocot was interested to know the numbers of families who would qualify for Secure Jobs services in the 3 county region (i.e., what is the need). Pamela will follow-up with Representative Kocot to provide some additional data on the population.

Update on DHCD/DTA discussion re: future agency home for Secure Jobs
Pamela and Ashley reported on last week’s statewide “Learning Lab” at DHCD where the agenda focused on the question of whether Secure Jobs will move to DTA for its agency home. Linn Torto, Executive Director of the MA ICHH, is spearheading conversation among all the relevant state agencies on this question, and both ICHH and DHCD are committed to program participation in this discussion and decision. We learned that DTA is interested in this possibility and it may provide greater leveraging of resources and greater advocacy benefiting the families Secure Jobs serves. At the same time, there is concern that not all families served by SJ are “DTA families” (i.e., eligible for their benefits, TAFDC or SNAP), that the criteria for eligibility is based on DHCD’s EA eligibility. There was also discussion about having DHCD and DTA enter MOU’s to ensure a shared understanding of the terms of cooperation and collaboration. Linn is scheduling a meeting with the DTA commissioner and there will be representatives from each of the SJ programs invited to attend. We will keep the group posted on the discussion as it unfolds.

Both Representative Kocot and Representative Vega noted that they are not concerned about where the program lives per se but how best to break down silos and serve all families in need.

Policy Discussion:

We discussed the most pressing policy issues impacting Secure Jobs’ success: child care, public transportation, language barriers (demand for more ESL courses), and housing resources.

In terms of Secure Jobs’ viability, it is key to maintain flexibility around use of resources that will best meet families’ barriers to housing (e.g., from paying back rent to fixing a car).

On child care, the low rate of reimbursement by EEC is such that centers are closing across the state (including in our region); they simply can’t afford to stay open with such a low rate and with a policy that only pays for children if they attend on a given day (so missed days go unpaid; extremely difficult to run a center on that basis).

The need for greater public transportation to serve workers on later shifts and in rural areas everywhere poses an immense barrier.

On language learning, there is not enough capacity in the ESL programs to meet the need. At the same time, WIOA is demanding a move away from language support, instead focusing on the “job ready,” those dislocated, laid off workers.

Lisa Lapierre – public transportation – the problems related to public transportation and the impact on job accessibility are well-documented.

Rep. Kocot and Rep. Vega shared their wish that the region could come together and prioritize how to best serve this population so there would be less competition every budget season. We acknowledged that the Network attempts to do precisely that but at the same time while there is generalized sign-on of priorities, each organization also maintains its own priorities. With limited resources and pressing need, this tension is almost impossible to avoid. But we will take their feedback and continue the dialogue on how best to coordinate our asks. We will continue the conversation at our next meeting (11/2, 11:12:30); will explore Holyoke Computer Center as alternative meeting location.

Secure Jobs Meeting Minutes of 9/6/16

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee
September 6, 2016

In attendance: Ashley Brehm, HAPHousing, C. Diluzio, Veterans Inc., Dawn DiStefano, Square One, Madeline Martinez, HAPHousing, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, Maegan Pedemonit, HAPHousing, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Maricelli Serrano, BerkshireWorks, Chris Skerritt, HAPHousing, Pamela Wotjkowski, BerkshireWorks

Review of Progress Report for July/August FY17: Click here
July signaled start of new contract year. DHCD award to Western region (via HAP as lead agency) is for $120,000 (about half as much as previous year due to budget cuts, although a portion of funding was performance-based and HAP received maximum amount due to the program’s outstanding performance). Placement goal for the year is 37 but the program has already placed 22 individuals in employment in the first 2 months alone. Congratulations to all.

Welcome to Chris Skerritt, HAP’s new employment specialist. They have developed a cohort curriculum that is working very well (they have convened 2 cohorts thus far).

Support for Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire Counties:
HAP is in the process of getting clear on nature of support to Berkshire County (via BerkshireWorks) and Franklin/Hampshire counties (via FH Career Center). Likely on case-by-case basis, when someone fits SJ criteria, limited resources will be available to support specific needs such as training dollars or client allowance. The allocation for discretionary support was substantially cut due to overall budget cuts so very few dollars available overall. May also incorporate limited performance-based contract (i.e., some reimbursement based on placements). This will be clarified over the next month.

Additional fundraising efforts:
Ashley shared that she is focusing this year on expanding financial base of support for the program so not reliant exclusively on yearly state funding. One key exploration is reimbursement by the SNAP program (45% reimbursement for a range of employment and training services once budget is approved). Must be exclusively a SNAP recipient without additional benefits (e.g., no TAFDC recipient would qualify). This will be a test year to ascertain potential leverage with this resource.

BerkshireWorks update:
Most referrals for Secure Jobs come from Berkshire Housing (HomeBASE or RAFT recipients). Clients are incorporated in the ongoing work readiness program (CEIS).

 Berkshire Community College Update:
Bill Mulholland updated the group on the Working Cities Grant – $500,000 over 3 years – that in Berkshire County will focus on the Bridges program, an effort to bring in non-profits and other entities to develop greater access to job opportunities. Huge challenges exist in transportation, language barriers and above all creating an environment of inclusion and awareness of opportunity for all. This is an exciting opportunity.   A specific big challenge in Berkshire County is also the aging population and the number of anticipated retirements in the years ahead. Berkshire Health Systems is especially concerned and would like to focus on the necessary train ing and language learning opportunities to ensure a work force that meets the community needs.

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee focus this year:
The group discussed the mission of our Advisory Committee for the coming year. There was consensus that the Committee’s most useful function is to serve as a vehicle for advocacy around policy changes that would improve outcomes for Secure Jobs (and related employment efforts). We agreed we should further consider moving to quarterly meetings and using these meetings to bring together legislators to hear our successes, challenges and recommendations for reform. Towards this end, we agreed we would use our next October meeting to invite Rep. Kocot and Rep. Vega, our 2 Committee legislators, to brainstorm this concept and help move it forward.

Initial brainstorm on policy concerns included:

  • child care
  • public transportation
  • ESL
  • Housing for hard-to-house families

We agreed we would pose 2 possible dates to the legislators: Wed., Oct. 5 at 11 am (our usual meeting time) or Friday, Oct. 7 in the morning (since Fridays are frequently easier for legislators). Pamela will report back to the group as soon as she hears back.

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Meeting – 7/5/16

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee
July 5, 2016

In attendance: Ashley Brehm, HAPHousing, Bud Delphin, CareerPoint, Ken Demers, BerkshireWorks, Dave Gadaire, CareerPoint, Allie Haber, Network, Lisa Lapierre, Franklin Hampshire Career Center, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, Maegan Pedemonit, HAPHousing, George Ryan, Hampden County REB, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Maricelli Serrano, BerkshireWorks, Representative Aaron Vega, Pamela Wojtkowski, BerkshireWorks

Celebrating Secure Jobs Success:

In FY16, the program placed 120 heads of households into jobs, well over double the contract goal of 54 (and the best in the State!). The program also experienced a 93% retention rate. Click here for the progress report. FANTASTIC WORK. We celebrated with cake and a toast to the extraordinary effort with extraordinary results!

In terms of data analysis, Brandeis University will be retained by the Fireman Foundation for the first 6 months of this new fiscal year to finalize a data report.

Rep. Vega inquired about the data reflecting the relationship between these job placements and housing stability. The group agreed that this is a vital indicator of the program’s success. Ashley said Brandeis will be looking at this statewide; also HAP has just established its own database to be able to better track this data (among other indicators) internally. We should see reports from this database in the coming months.

FY17 State Budget Update:

We reviewed the final result of this year’s state budget that funded Secure Jobs statewide at $800,000. This is less than half of what is necessary to keep the program whole. Each program will experience significant cuts although the exact amount is unclear based on the number of programs that are able to continue under the current funding. Fortunately, HAP is able to allocate funds internally to keep their staff in place. The current unknown is the amount of flexible funds that will be available (which everyone acknowledged are critical to the program’s success). Also, HAP will no longer be sub-contracting with CareerPoint as a partner in the program.

Bud and Dave at CareerPoint pointed out that while the new WIOA law notes that attention should be given to several targeted groups, including homeless job-seekers, there are no special funds allocated for those services.  As always, homeless individuals will be welcome to access resources, workshops and other services provided by CareerPoint and the other career centers, but to be enrolled in WIOA, homeless participants must meet a number of eligibility requirements and must compete with other job seekers who  want to access very limited training funds or intensive career counseling services. At CareerPoint, homeless participants  will be provided as much support as is possible, but unfortunately they cannot receive the in-depth SJ services provided during the past several years.

Ashley also shared that HAP is pursuing SNAP matching dollars to support the program. They just submitted an application and are waiting to hear back.

Lisa of Franklin/Hampshire Career Center noted the value of serving families in Franklin/Hampshire County and asked HAP to consider that possibility again. We agreed that from a Network perspective the cross-regional support has tremendous value; we also noted that the issue is outcomes in the face of reduced funding for the program as a whole. HAP and FHCC will keep talking.

Ken of Berkshire Works noted that they are in the middle of conversations with HAP about HAP’s continued support of the Berkshire program. Berkshire Works has just hired Maricella Serrano to serve as the Secure Jobs staff person and Pamela Wojtkowski is in the process of training her.

Next meeting: Tuesday, September 6, 11 am – 12:15 pm, HCC, Frost Building 309.

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee Minutes – 5/3/16

Secure Jobs Advisory Committee
May 3, 2016

In attendance: Ashley Brehm, HAPHousing, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, Ken Demers, BerkshireWorks, Sean Hemingway, CHD, Joanne LaCour, DTA, John Leva, VA, Madeline Martinez, HAPHousing, Bill Mulholland, Berkshire Community College, Maegan Pedemonit, HAPHousing, George Ryan, Hampden County Regional Employment Board, Pamela Schwartz, Network, Representative Aaron Vega

April Progress Report:  Click here

Ashely reported on 91 placements to date – almost TWICE the FY16 goal (54). Congratulations to the team on such amazing work!

We reviewed the keys to success: fantastic collaborations with employers – C&S Wholesalers chief among them – great team work, great partnership with CareerPoint.

As an example of the creative collaborations: a number of SJ enrollees are in the process of becoming certified as home day care providers which will provide day care for children of SJ participants who require hard-to-find child care for late shifts (from employment at C&S). A form of social enterprise at work!

Berkshire County update: Ken reported a new case manager/job placement hire starting next week. The group is working exclusively with current enrollments (about 7), so their total goal for their grant is adjusted to be about 13 (currently placed 6).

FY17 Budget Update:
Secure Jobs received $500K in the House budget, down from $750K in the Governor’s budget (and $2 million needed to keep the program whole statewide).

Rep. Vega offered his insight on the process, suggesting that the statewide push on this from other areas of the state was not unified or strong; that it is overwhelming when advocacy groups present 20 priorities, making it difficult to “own” any one of them or focus. Must have very targeted attention on this item for it to rise to the top. Suggested we meet with local senators to zero in on Secure Jobs in advance of debate process. It was agreed that Pamela will reach out to Hampden County senators to ask for a meeting. Ken and Bill will reach out to Senator Downing.

Next year after our big progress report event we need to make sure we follow-up with one-on-one meetings with legislators to discuss our priorities.

Debrief on John Rio training on sustainability:

Some people found it re-energizing to stop and focus on alternative funding sources. Others found it lacking in specificity and new ideas. We agreed that pursuing social enterprise ideas is a great direction.

Expanding Secure Jobs Advisory Membership:

Ashley proposed looking at some of our current employment collaborations and expanding membership to include them. All agreed! Rep. Vega also suggested reaching out to the Holyoke and Springfield Chambers of Commerce. We agreed to pursue new members who could fuel our partnerships in the community.

Next meeting: Tuesday, June 14, 11 am – 12 noon, location to be determined