October 2019
A message from the Executive Director

In his first newsletter, Carl Nagy-Koechlin discusses his first two months as Just-A-Start's new Executive Director
When I was offered and accepted the Executive Director position at Just-A-Start in the spring, I knew I would be leading an organization with an impressive history and track record for solving problems in and around Cambridge and assisting residents to live and thrive here. I also knew that I would be just the third executive director in the organization's 51-year history!
My two-month immersion here at JAS has confirmed the organization's strength and also highlighted the tremendous potential in front of us to increase our impact, raise our profile, and expand our reach - all while making sure that JAS is a great place for people of all backgrounds to work, contribute and grow professionally.
I have just completed one-on-one meetings with each of our 43 employees. These meetings have reinforced that we are blessed with a talented, committed and accomplished group of employees that are dedicated to the participants we all serve.
I have also met with approximately 25 external partners, including elected representatives, city officials, funders, lenders, employer partners and civic leaders. It's clear from these interactions that JAS has been and will continue to be a problem-solver, innovator, convener and reliable partner alongside many fellow organizations working in partnership for social change.
One final encouraging take-away from these two months is just how many opportunities and initiatives are in front of us. These include our Rindge Commons project, which will provide a state-of-the-art home for our education and job training programs, and our Community Benefits-funded economic mobility initiative (see below for more information). Many exciting projects have the potential to substantially increase JAS's impact, strengthen and better integrate the organization, and expand and deepen our partnerships.
In short, the state of JAS is strong, with opportunities to deepen our work and expand our reach. I'm humbled and excited to continue meeting and working with all of JAS's partners, donors, and friends.

Carl Nagy-Koechlin
New Director of Education & Training   

Just-A-Start recently welcomed a new Director of Education & Training! Miriam Ortiz, formerly JAS's Director of Workforce Development, transitioned into her new role within the organization last month. Prior to joining Just-A-Start, Miriam was Chief of Staff at Italian Home for Children and Associate Director and Youth and Families Program Manager at Centro Latino. Beyond these positions, Miriam is also one of the founders and Chair of the Board of Directors for the Student Immigrant Movement, a statewide youth-led organization, which empowers undocumented students to become civically active.
Miriam holds a B.A. from Bryn Mawr College, a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice, and a Master of Public Policy as a Neighborhood Fellow at Tufts' Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning Department. Originally from Mexico, Miriam has a personal commitment to working with people in her community with a strengths-based approach to remove barriers to educational, social and economic mobility. Please join us in congratulating Miriam!
Graduation, Graduation, Graduation! 

Just-A-Start recently celebrated graduations for the Class of 2019 from the Biomedical, IT, and YouthBuild programs! In total, 52 participants marked the end of one phase of their education and moved on to the next, with graduates entering new jobs, beginning college, and enrolling in other post-secondary education programs.
"I haven't felt so proud of myself until I was a student at YouthBuild because they showed me how. They showed me that I can be better and bigger than the girl that struggled with school all her life and that eventually dropped out but now I see myself as the girl who overcame her obstacles and challenges to be more than what she was before YouthBuild. There is definitely something that I now see after going to YouthBuild and that is potential." - Katharine Baena, YouthBuild student speaker 2019
Connecting Our Talent with Local Employers

Just-A-Start recently held a Talent Connector Job Fair to connect qualified, diverse, and work-ready candidates from JAS's Biomedical and IT Careers Programs with local employers including Indigo, Harvard University, and Takeda. 

"Transitioning from a background in print and online media I have found that I have many skills that I bring with me to help with my passion for technology, such as being able to adapt quickly and listen to the challenges of customers. I view the last 9 months investing in my education at Just-A-Start as planting a seed. I received nutrients such as soil and water through classes and knowledge, and the support needed from the gardeners, the teachers and staff. I hope to find a job applying what I have learned in order to fully blossom. In the future I am looking to integrate my media background with my IT education." - Santosh Rimal, IT Careers Program Graduate
In Case You Missed It - Annual Report 2018

Did you get a chance to catch up with Just-A-Start's 2018 Annual Report? Explore the report for stories about the organization's impact in the past year, recent successes, and plans for the future.

Program News Stories

Cambridge Chronicle - 50 York Street Residents Welcomed Home 
Two years after a devastating fire destroyed JAS's 16-unit building at 50 York Street, residents returned home to their new apartments. "It has been a long journey for all of us but we are here today stronger than ever," said Carmen Fajardo, a longtime 50  York Street resident. 
New Community Benefits Fund Project
Just-A-Start was selected to receive one of four $30,000 planning grants from the City of Cambridge's Community Benefits fund to develop a program in response to the needs of Cambridge families with low incomes. As the Lead Organization, JAS is working alongside partners Cambridge Family & Children Service, Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge Housing Authority, and Institute for Health and Recovery to create a coaching-based, economic and mobility program.