Two Boston nonprofits merging

Jewish Vocational Service absorbing Boston Center for Adult Education

TWO HISTORIC BOSTON nonprofits – the Jewish Vocational Service and the Boston Center for Adult Education – are merging to increase workplace and educational opportunities for unemployed and underemployed adults.

Jerry Rubin, the president of Jewish Vocational Service, said the Boston Center will become a “subsidiary” of his organization and that combining the two entities was planned before the coronavirus epidemic.

He said the combined organization will use the Boston Center’s Arlington Street headquarters as a training facility with potential simulations for future nursing assistants, pharmacy technicians, and others.

“This beautiful educational facility has great potential to serve as the home of new technology, innovative labs, and programming that reflects the growing industries and occupations in Boston that need to be opened up to a more diverse and economically challenged workforce,” Rubin said.

JVS already has a presence in the Longwood Medical Area with a training facility used in partnership with area hospitals, and has programming in Revere, East Boston, Hyde Park, and Lawrence, among other places.

The Boston Center’s board members will join the JVS board, and the center’s cash assets of $3 million will go into a fund to use for future programming and growth.

The 86-year-old Boston Center for Adult Education has been shuttered for classes since December, after two former top executives and another employee were accused of stealing about $2 million over eight years from the organization. Their cases are pending. The organization lost its tax-exempt status after the alleged thefts.

Most of the staff at the Boston Center left after classes halted, and none will be rejoining the combined entity.

Both institutions have been active in Boston since the 1930s. Jewish Vocational Service launched in 1938 to help Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution in Germany join the local workforce. It now provides career development for individuals and employers seeking training for their workers.

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Sarah Betancourt

Reporter, CommonWealth

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

About Sarah Betancourt

Sarah Betancourt is a bilingual journalist reporting across New England. Prior to joining Commonwealth, Sarah was a reporter for The Associated Press in Boston, and a correspondent with The Boston Globe and The Guardian. She has written about immigration, social justice, and health policy for outlets like NBC, The Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, and the New York Law Journal. Sarah has reported stories such as a national look at teacher shortages, how databases are used by police departments to procure information on immigrants, and uncovered the spread of an infectious disease in children at a family detention center. She has covered the State House, local and national politics, crime and general assignment.

Sarah received a 2018 Investigative Reporters and Editors Award for her role in the ProPublica/NPR story, “They Got Hurt at Work and Then They Got Deported,” which explored how Florida employers and insurance companies were getting out of paying workers compensation benefits by using a state law to ensure injured undocumented workers were arrested or deported. Sarah attended Emerson College for a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Communication, and Columbia University for a fellowship and Master’s degree with the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism.

The vocational service has actually seen an influx of enrollment during the pandemic, something Rubin attributes to the higher unemployment rate and people hoping to sharpen skills for future jobs. As the semester ended, over 2,000 students were taking over 40 remote classes, led by 80 instructors and 40 job coaches.

The center was beginning distance learning pre-COVID on Google Classroom, and had a three-year plan for investing in technology to do so. When the pandemic hit, a technology officer was hired immediately, and that long-term goal was initiated in less than three months. “Our students and instructors adjusted much more quickly and better than I would have imagined. I’m really knocked over by it,” said Rubin. The organization has even launched a computer lending library, he said, and students have said distance learning is more convenient for them because they don’t have to go downtown.