A Rare Chance: JVS/BCAE merger looking at two options for Bay Village facility

Following the announcement of the merger between the Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) and Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE), JVS said this week it is looking at two options for how to use the former BCAE facility on Arlington Street in Bay Village.

JVS Chief Operating Office Kira Khazatsky said the BCAE sought them out for a merger, and in initial talks they realized they have a lot in common – one focusing on job training skills and the other in focusing on self-improvement skills for adults. Once they worked out the details, the BCAE was happy to merge into JVS – with the name still to be worked out at the Arlington Street building.

A key piece of the new organization, and for the Bay Village neighborhood, is just how the new building will be used. At the JVS headquarters downtown on Federal Street, Khazatsky said they house two different, but critical, pathway programs and they’d like to move one of them to the Bay Village educational building that housed BCAE.

Both plans would fulfill a major hole in the educational network for adults in Boston, and Khazatsky said to be a world-class city, there has to be programs to help adults get into the working world and improve themselves in the working world.

“For many adults trying to get into these jobs we train for, there isn’t one place to go,” she said. “With this, either plan, Boston can point to this on the map and say, ‘We have that.’ Having that speaks to having a world-class city and not having something like that to point at is disappointing and I think we have an opportunity to turn that around right here.”

The first option is to expand on their simulation lab training program that exists on Federal Street. Those programs allow for specific skills training in the classroom, and in a hands on setting for careers in Certified Nursing Assistant (CAN), Pharmacy Technician, Bank Teller/Retail, Culinary Arts, and hospitality. Right now, Khazatsky said they have a mock-CVS store built out at their downtown facility that helps job-seekers train for retail and management in a real environment.

One option for JVS is to build out more simulation labs at the Arlington Street building.

“What we have always dreamed of being able to build out is a state-of-the-art series of simulation labs,” she said. “While many of the jobs we train for require classroom time, many of those jobs also require you to do a lot of practice – physical work and practice in moving a patient to the bathroom, training in a kitchen, or interacting with customers. We’re not leaving 75 Federal St., but what we would do is building that idea into the skills training program we have. So it would become a state-of-the-art job training center with a mock hospital, a mock bank, a mock restaurant kitchen, and a mock hotel. That’s one way we are thinking about utilizing that building.”

The second choice is their academic training program that includes English as a Second Language and a Boston Public Schools diploma program for adults. The program takes everyone from those just arriving in the U.S. and not speaking the language, to those who are looking for pre-college training and job placement. It’s a program that can take an individual from basic literacy, to high school diploma, to college and to job resources.

“There is not a place on the Boston map where you could get from A to B in this process,” she said. “That would be the place on the map where such a place would be.”

Khazatsky said each pathway has about 500 particpants each and that all of their services are free of charge to those in them. They pay for their programming by having businesses invest in the training, or by raising money. She said in a world focused on equity right now, either proposal moves the needle in the right direction.

“Our mission is about access,” she said. “We believe in equal access. There are lots of Ivy League schools with significant lab training facilities. A lot of our aren’t ever going to set foot into an $80,000 lab. We are about finding those resources, building it out and making it available to these folks to get in or move up in the job market.”

JVS expects to make their programming decision in the next couple of months, and build out the space within one year’s time.

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