WorkSMART enrollee Leslie Oller Baez, age 19, of Roslindale, with children at Village Preschool where she works 15 hours a week.
ABCD’s new WorkSMART program surrounds inner-city teens with the support systems to stay in school and graduate while providing work experience that motivates them to pursue higher education and careers. A partnership with the Boston Public Schools, WorkSMART offers year-round, supervised, paid work experience with comprehensive case management and tutoring support to BPS students from low-income homes. Youth must stay in school to qualify. Parents and teachers are heavily involved in the program, and outreach includes connections with clergy, law enforcement, courts and community organizations . WorkSMART teens work 15 hours a week for 14 weeks in supervised internships subsidized by ABCD at community organizations, early care centers, health clinics, colleges and hospitals. ABCD is committed to seeing WorkSMART students through to high school graduation and beyond and setting up a college fund for them. Liberty Mutual awarded $25,000 to WorkSMART this year. “I’ve been at this a long time and I’ve never seen youth hurting so badly,” said ABCD President/CEO John J. Drew. “This year 10 percent of teens in our SummerWorks program were homeless. We have to give them the tools to stay in school, graduate and move on to careers.”