12.11.2012

Quincy not settling for their County’s B+ on the “Opportunity Index”

What does it take for a formerly homeless single mother to pursue a dream to hold a master’s degree as a social worker? The South Shore YMCA/Germantown Neighborhood Center in Quincy, Massachusetts – and its many partners – has been a source of opportunity for one hard-working, determined woman to finish her GED and go on to EMT training and Quincy College as she continues to strive to reach her full potential.

Another great story of opportunity in Quincy comes in the form of an industry. Quincy College was awarded a $2.9 million dollar federal grant this past September for a BioTech and Compliance program. Graduates of this two-year program have the potential for starting salaries of $43,000 with opportunity for advancement. This program –  in combination with an effort from Quincy Mayor Koch to attract the BioTech industry to Quincy with a $100,000 marketing initiative this year and biotech lab and office space planned as a component of developer Street Works’ blueprint for a $1.6-billion redevelopment of downtown Quincy – certainly sounds like a win for job-creation.

Many opportunities are provided in our community for youth to find their direction to the “economic ladder,” however, we still have work to do. Although below the national average of 14.7%, 9.2% of youth in Norfolk County ages 16-24 are not in school and not working – representing a wealth of untapped talent. These statistics were prepared by Measure of America and presented by Opportunity Nation in the “Opportunity Index.” The index presents data sets of health, economic, and education indicators at state and county levels and ranked them by letter grade. Norfolk County received a B+.

On December 5th, over 75 local leaders convened at Quincy College to discuss Opportunity Nation’s Shared Plan – to build the necessary education and job training pipelines that convert the potential of young adults today to the job market of today and tomorrow – and how it can be used as a tool in our community to increase effectiveness of programs and services already in place.  Actions include but are not limited to: engaging employers as part of the solution; pairing college planning support for low-income students with asset development; boosting mentoring; and driving community collaboration to reconnect youth.  Alicia LeClaire – panelist for the workshop and Director of Strategic Initiatives for the South Shore Workforce Investment Board – referred to the effort as “more paddles in the water moving in the same direction.”

The high-energy workshop was a success with a goal to connect and engage more agencies in planning together as a community and as individual organizations how to improve opportunity outcomes in Quincy and surrounding communities. The workshop, in partnership with Opportunity Nation, was coordinated by Quincy’s Department of Planning and Community Development and made possible with funding from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The CDBG program allocates grants to develop decent housing, a suitable living environment, and opportunities to expand economic development, principally for low-and-moderate income persons.

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