News & Updates

Mayor's Office of Workforce Development annual report highlights crucial services delivered to workers during the pandemic

Apr 27, 2022

In the first year of the pandemic, the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development (OWD) channeled nearly $17 million to more than 120 local organizations that provided job training, education, career coaching, English instruction, youth programming, and other essential services, according to the newly released Fiscal Year 2021 OWD Annual Report. More than 15,000 Boston residents benefited from these investments.
"This year’s report is a testament to the incredible commitment of City staff and partners, and the resilience of Boston’s workforce in the face of the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic,” said Segun Idowu, Chief of Economic Opportunity and Inclusion. “Together, we have created more tangible pathways to economic advancement, and together under Mayor Wu’s leadership, we can continue to expand access to wealth-building opportunities for marginalized workers.”
“In many ways, the pandemic has exacerbated the inequities that burden our communities of color,” said OWD Director Trinh Nguyen. “But the work of our office and our partners shows that even in times of crisis – especially in times of crisis – advancing economic justice is both actionable and necessary. We will continue to build on that work to forge a more equitable workforce for our city.” 
The report, Bold Action for an Equitable Recovery, which covers the period July 2020 - June 2021, features the many ways that OWD-funded programs improvised adaptations to their service delivery, met and surmounted technological obstacles, and succeeded in providing crucial services to Boston residents in a time of crisis.
The Boston Tax Help Coalition, for example, adapted its free tax services to a hybrid model to ensure that its IRS-trained volunteers could continue to prepare returns for eligible taxpayers – including those without internet access. As a result, the Coalition prepared taxes for nearly 10,000 low and middle-income taxpayers, returning $16.8 million in refunds to their pockets.
Another program featured in the report, Youth Options Unlimited (YOU) Boston, managed a similar transition with the goal of providing educational and employment opportunities to at-risk youth. In partnership with the nonprofit Tech Goes Home, YOU Boston distributed nearly 100 laptops and 40 hotspots to participants, as well as hands-on materials they could use at home to learn the basics of baking and pastry arts, barista and customer service, graphic design, and media arts. Despite the challenges, YOU placed 328 young people in employment opportunities and helped another 32 on the road to earning their high school credential or enrolling in post-secondary education.
In addition to programs, the annual report also highlights the Boston residents who strove to improve their lives during the pandemic. Roslindale resident Jailen Hamilton completed an Associate Degree in Electrical Technology with the help of the City’s Tuition-Free Community College Plan, which pays for tuition and mandatory fees at six local colleges. His degree helped him move out of crisis mode and into a promising electrical career.
“It feels good to not have to worry,” Hamilton said. “I’m doing more things for myself now, getting my own money and not just getting by.”
OWD is an affiliate of the Boston Planning & Development Agency.
The Mayor's Office of Workforce Development (OWD) is an innovative agency within the Boston Planning & Development Agency that seeks to ensure the full participation of all Boston residents in the city's economic vitality and future. OWD funds and oversees programs that promote workforce development through education, jobs training, apprenticeships, financial coaching, career pathways, literacy initiatives, and the like. Please visit to learn more about OWD's work.

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