Pay for Success: A New Workforce Development Program in Lowell



Mayor William Samaras praised the partnerships in the program

On March 19th, Mayor William Samaras and Senator Eileen Donoghue joined with Coalition for a Better Acre (CBA), the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA), International Institute of New England, and Jewish Vocational Service (JVS) to launch a new Pay for Success Workforce Development Program. The new ‘English for Advancement’ program will provide language training and job placement for limited English speakers in Lowell seeking to advance their careers.

“In recent years we have changed the work we do, and our new goal is to help families that live in our residences become economically self-sufficient” CBA Executive Director Yun-Ju Choi noted.

Choi also recounted how a fortuitous meeting with  JVS President Jerry Rubin helped make this program possible.  Rubin was the first executive director of the CBA and was looking to expand the ‘English for Advancement’ program into Lowell. She called it a matter of being “in the right place, at the right time.”


State Senator Eileen Donoghue


Emma Tobin, International Institute of New England (Lowell)

Senator Eileen Donoghue described the big picture importance of the effort, “the economies of both the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the City of Lowell depend on our ability to have an educated workforce that can create, innovate, and execute.”

“Lowell has a long and celebrated history of immigration” noted Emma Tobin program director for the International Institute of New England.  This year the International Institute is celebrating its 100th year of service.  “English for Advancement provides participants with critical language skills and connect them with careers, creating economic opportunities for individuals in the program and their families”


Kira Khazatsky,  JVS Chief Program Officer

Chief Program Officer Kira Khazatsky spoke on behalf of JVS. “I kept thinking of the word power.  The power of opportunity.  The power of strong leadership. and the power of partnership.”

Sovanna Pouv, the executive director of CMAA, noted that 95 percent of the clients they serve are low-income, and that this program is the exact type of initiative that will help strengthen the community.

Mayor Samaras, who has served on the boards of both CMAA and the International Institute in the past similarly praised the importance of partnerships.  “Without programs like this, Lowell could not be the city it is”


CBA Executive Director Yun-Ju Choi

JVS, one of Greater Boston’s largest community-based workforce development and adult education providers, has deep experience implementing innovative programs that assist immigrants and other second language speakers with joining and moving up in the workforce. JVS serves nearly 20,000 individuals annually, providing them the skills they need to gain employment, as well as to progress up the career and wage ladder and make sound financial choices over their lifetimes.

The project is being carried out by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, represented by the Executive Office for Administration and Finance, the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, and the Executive Office of Education, in conjunction with partners including JVS, Social Finance, the Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab (GPL), Economic Mobility Corporation, and Jobs for the Future.


Students speak about their experience

Pay for Success provides a tool for results-based government financing, leveraging private capital to fund experienced service providers and enable government to respond to identified needs. Investors are repaid based on the level of measurable success of the program. This data-intensive approach helps governments target funding towards approaches that work, while limiting risk on new policy programs.

Sovanna2For more information on the Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement Pay for Success Project, please visit:
For additional quotes from project partners, please visit:


Emma Tobin, Sovanna Pouv, Yun-Ju Choi

The CBA’s Acre News blog also has a full recap of the event: “English for Advancement Program Launched”

2 thoughts on “Pay for Success: A New Workforce Development Program in Lowell

  1. Pingback: 2018 in Review | Return to Room 50

  2. Pingback: Nominate a Lowell Leader | Return to Room 50

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