Future Chefs prepares urban youth in Greater Boston for opportunities in the culinary field and supports them as they transition into the working world.

Access to Opportunity Initiative

 The Access to Opportunity Initiative built on the experiences of the Empowerment Initiative, a strategy through which the Foundation made grants in several areas including youth development, adult education and domestic violence from 2006 through 2011. These grants were focused on empowering individuals to make positive changes in their lives. The Access to Opportunity Initiative continued this work but with a sharper focus on education and pre-vocational training, which we view as essential preparation for achieving economic security.

This Initiative had two distinct funding strategies:

  1. Increasing Access to and Persistence in Education for Adult Learners
  2. Promoting Post-Secondary Success for Youth

In the adult education area, the Foundation aimed to increase access to education for adult English language learners and college completion for adults transitioning from GED, ESOL or from having interrupted their educations. In addition, the Foundation funded programs that focused on quality preparation of all adult students for post-secondary education and training, assistance in applying to colleges or certificate programs, and support for students through to completion.

Towards post-secondary success for youth, the Foundation supported programs that demonstrate best practices for college preparation, transition to college and college support once enrolled. In the pre-vocational training area, the Foundation supported programs that incorporated skill building, opportunities for apprenticeships, career mentoring and other work experiences.

In both the adult education and youth development areas, the Foundation also funded projects that worked on a systemic level to achieve the goals of the Initiative, for example, through research, training, pilot projects, interagency collaboration, and public policy work.

Since the inception of the Initiative, 134 grants totaling about $3.7 million have been made, benefitting 42 organizations.

Access to Opportunity Initiative - Selected Past Grants:

  • Asian American Civic Association
    $20,000 for the Next Step Transitional English Program (Next STEP), a program designed to improve students’ English levels and successfully transition them to post-secondary education, skills training and employment.
    visit ESOL programs on the Asian American Civic Association website 
  • Boston Debate League
    $25,000 for the After School Debate League, an effort that seeks to go deep in member schools, building large debate teams and supporting hundreds of teachers as they use debate to transform the academic atmosphere and expectations in their classrooms.
    visit the Boston Debate League website 
  • Boston Scholar Athletes
    $25,000 for their College Readiness Initiative, an after-school program which aims to increase SAT test scores for Boston public high school juniors, to increase their rates of college acceptance and attendance, and to increase the number of students graduating with successful post-secondary plans.
    visit the Boston Scholar Athletes website 
  • Bottom Line
    $30,000 for its Boston  programs, which provide one-on-one support throughout the college application  process and for up to six years in college to  Boston high school students who are low-income, first generation college-goers.   
    visit The Bottom Line website
  • BUILD Greater Boston
    $25,000 in general purposes support for this organization that uses entrepreneurship and experiential learning to ignite the potential of under-resourced youth.
    visit the BUILD Greater Boston website
  • English for New Bostonians
    $40,000 for operating support of this organization that works across all sectors to increase access to high-quality English language learning opportunities for Boston’s adult immigrants.
    visit the English for New Bostonians website
  • Future Chefs
    $25,000 for operating support of this organization which prepares Greater Boston youth for quality early employment and post-secondary education opportunities in the culinary arts and supports them  in developing a broad base of transferable skills as they transition to the working world.
    visit the Future Chefs website
  • Hyde Square Task Force
    $30,000 for  the Paths to Careers and College Program which provides training in leadership and college and career success skills, mentoring, and ongoing post-secondary support for   100 scholastically low-performing neighborhood youth  annually.  
    visit College and Careers on the Hyde Square Task Force website
  • Jewish Vocational Service
    $35,000 for the Bridges to College Network, an effort that promotes and supports adult learners to follow a pathway to post-secondary education that will culminate with a certificate or degree that has immediate value in today’s labor market.
    visit Bridges to College on the Jewish Vocational Service website
  • MathPOWER
    $15,000 for their Out-of-School Time Programming, which aims to transform the lives of urban youth by developing proficiency in advanced mathematics and personal resiliency.
    visit the MathPOWER website 
  • More Than Words
    $30,000 for operating support for this organization which empowers foster care, court-involved, homeless, or out of school youth to take charge of their lives by learning personal and business management skills through  the operation of  a café and online and  retail bookstore. 
    visit the More Than Words website
  • Northeastern University
    $30,000 for the Foundation Year program,  an intensive, 12-month freshman program established to assist underserved Boston Public high school graduates and GED completers who have aspirations of entering college, but do not have the academic preparation and financial resources to attend and succeed.
    visit the Foundation Year website
  • The Possible Project
    $10,000 for their Youth Entrepreneurship Program, which teaches high school students to start and run their own businesses in order to help them graduate from high school, complete post-secondary education or training and enter a career that will allow them to be self-sufficient.  
    visit The Possible Project website
  • ROCA
    $30,000 for the Alternative Education and Workforce Development Program which provides a spectrum of educational classes and academic support along with pre-vocational and vocational training, apprenticeships transitional employment and  job placement to young men ages 17-24 involved in the criminal justice system.
    visit the ROCA website
  • Summer Search
    $25,000 to support mentors who work with public high school students starting in their sophomore years to build the confidence, character and skills needed to graduate from high school and college. 
    visit the Summer Search website
  • World Education, Inc. 
    $25,000 for the Adult College Engagement Program, which aims to pilot and refine a replicable, system-wide model for peer-mentoring of adult learners as they transition to post-secondary education and training.
    visit the National College Transition Network website
  • X-Cel, Inc.
    $25,000 for  the GED- to- College Initiative providing individualized education plans and support to GED program participants pursuing higher education.
    visit the X-Cel website 
  • Year Up
    $25,000 for their Boston operation  which provides a year-long education and skills training program,  including a six-month corporate internship, to  18- to- 24 year old high school graduates and GED completers who  are neither employed nor enrolled in post-secondary education.
    visit the Year Up website

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