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Boston STRIVE (Boston Employment Service, Inc.)

 651 Washington Street
 Dorchester, MA 02124
[P] (617) 8251800
[F] (617) 8251896
Charmane Higgins
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 04-3223871

LAST UPDATED: 05/30/2018
Organization DBA Boston STRIVE
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years Yes



Mission StatementMORE »

STRIVE’s mission is to transform the lives of at-risk populations by providing support and training that lead to livable wage employment. At Boston STRIVE, we focus on helping chronically unemployed men and women realize their potential to find and keep jobs that promise sustainable livelihoods and personal growth. We accomplish this by changing attitudes, building skills, working with employers and creating powerful partnerships.

Mission Statement

STRIVE’s mission is to transform the lives of at-risk populations by providing support and training that lead to livable wage employment. At Boston STRIVE, we focus on helping chronically unemployed men and women realize their potential to find and keep jobs that promise sustainable livelihoods and personal growth. We accomplish this by changing attitudes, building skills, working with employers and creating powerful partnerships.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2014 to Dec 31, 2014
Projected Income $775,452.00
Projected Expense $761,974.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Employment Services
  • Job Readiness and Attitudinal Development

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2011 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2010 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

STRIVE’s mission is to transform the lives of at-risk populations by providing support and training that lead to livable wage employment. At Boston STRIVE, we focus on helping chronically unemployed men and women realize their potential to find and keep jobs that promise sustainable livelihoods and personal growth. We accomplish this by changing attitudes, building skills, working with employers and creating powerful partnerships.

Background Statement

Boston Employment Service was founded in 1994 by a team of 12 that included business managers, nonprofit heads, university professors and law firm partners who enlisted the initial backing of some three dozen donors.  STRIVE’s mission is to transform the lives of at-risk populations by providing support and training that lead to livable wage employment and societal re-integration. This model has proven so successful that it has been replicated in 24 cities across the country and around the world.

From 1994 through 2013, STRIVE graduated 4,428 persons from training and placed 4,187 in jobs.  STRIVE’s workforce model includes job readiness training, financial literacy, computer literacy, GED (General Equivalency Diploma) instruction, college prep courses and opportunities to pursue college education.  It has two training centers, one in Dorchester and the other in Roxbury.  Its staff in 2014 will number nine persons and its revenues are projected at $774,814.  

Boston STRIVE enters 2014 well positioned to further promote its unique expertise in workforce development. Having increased agency capacity this past year through the launch of skills training, STRIVE Boston’s recent growth emerges as the same time that STRIVE National seeks to reshape its brand and impact. STRIVE National has recently begun planning for a stronger national footprint and a more sustainable national network. Boston STRIVE, with its long history of innovation, continues to operate at the forefront among affiliates around the country.

Impact Statement

STRIVE completed a two-year strategic plan in 2012. The central purpose was to increase the organization’s capacity to meet the needs of our clients in an evolving skills based economy. The objectives, strategies, and goals in this plan were guided by the belief that through strategic partnerships and STRIVE’s powerful model we can change lives through attitudinal development, employment, and help advance our client’s economic independence. Focusing on partnership development, two major breakthroughs helped STRIVE to achieve its strategic goals. As a workforce development agency for the hardest to employ, STRIVE was awarded two separate grants to pilot skills training initiatives for chronically unemployed adults, proven-risk young adults, and ex-offenders. These innovative initiatives bring together STRIVE’s workforce model, two new funders, eleven community partners, and culminate in three separate professional training tracts that lead to industry recognized certifications.

In the spring of 2012 STRIVE was awarded funding from the Walmart Foundation to pilot technology skills training for STRIVE graduates. In partnership with Bunker Hill Community College (BHCC), STRIVE graduates have begun evening classes that lead to certifications in Microsoft Applications, with opportunities to earn advanced certifications upon matriculating at BHCC. In December, STRIVE was awarded a multi-year sub-grant from STRIVE National to execute STRIVE for the Future, an opportunity made possible through funding from the United States Department of Labor. This initiative design provides opportunities for STRIVE graduates to earn certifications in technology, hospitality and health care through partnerships with BHCC, Community Servings and Catholic Charities’ Labouré Center.

STRIVE will combine comprehensive employment services and training to increase skills and map strategies for its clients to move beyond social barriers. We envision our clients moving upward whether beginning in low-skills and moving into middle-skills, or advancing from middle-skills into high-skills with opportunities to achieve training certification in technology (Microsoft Applications), healthcare (Nursing Assistants, and Home Health Aides) and hospitality (SafeServe).

Programmatically,STRIVE placed 292 graduates into jobs in 2013, a 20% increase over the number placed in jobs in 2012. Among the 292 who attained employment, 160 graduated from the general population workshop and 132 were ex-offenders. As Massachusetts’ recidivism rate has increased 12%[2]over the past decade, providing training, education, and employment supports is critical for ex-offenders to make positive changes in their lives. STRIVE maintains strong relationships with many employers while developing placements for its clients. In 2013, 145 employers hired STRIVE graduates with an average startign salary of $11.20 per hour. 
In 2014 Boston STRIVE plans to help 300 STRIVE graduates find and keep fullt-time employment.

 Boston STRIVE is committed to using its financial and knowledge resources to meet the needs of our clients and further pursue growth plans for increased capacity.It is the intent of the agency to forge successful entry into federal grants; continue to strategically partner with affiliate STRIVE programs to scale impact; seek funds directly from state agencies involved with corrections, training, and public safety; and, continue to appeal to local private foundations.

[2]State of Recidivism. Pew Center on the States. April 2011.

Needs Statement

 As Boston STRIVE is piloting three skills training initiatives, sustainable funding is a certain need. The cost per job placement will be $3,045, calculated by dividing the number of graduates into the total expenses projected in 2014. This number compares favorably to self-sufficiency models for individuals and single parents moving along the continuum from unemploymentand public support towards economic independence[1].
1. An annual wage of $24,000 is within the 33-65% range of the Economic Independence Index set by the Crittenton Women’s Union. “Bridge to Self-Sufficiency”. Crittenton Women’s Union. 2010.

Additionally, STRIVE seeks organizational capacity support to increase its marketing and communications capabilities to reach a broader audience.


CEO Statement


Board Chair Statement


Geographic Area Served

City of Boston- North Dorchester
City of Boston- South Dorchester
City of Boston- Mattapan
City of Boston- Roxbury
City of Boston- Hyde Park
City of Boston- Citywide (Indiv. neighborhoods also listed)
STRIVE serves all residents of Boston; however, the overwhelming majority of clients reside among neighborhoods with the highest concentrations of poverty and crime in the city. In 2013 64% of STRIVE's clients resided in Dorchester, including 55% from Field's Corner & Talbot Avenue; 28% from Grove Hall; and, 11% from Upham Corner. 

Organization Categories

  1. Employment - Job Training
  2. Education - Adult Education
  3. Youth Development - Youth Development Programs

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)



Employment Services

The clients that participate in Boston STRIVE programming move along a continuum of training towards economic independence.Despite working with a challenging population that struggles to gain employment even in good economies, Boston STRIVE is demonstrating its model as one of the solutions to chronic unemployment, especially among ex-offenders. 

In 2014, STRIVE will conduct employment programs for a general population, ex-offenders, and a GED educational component. The job readiness and employment goals are presented in the following table. 











General Population
















Clients transition from phase one into job development (phase two). STRIVE’s job placement specialist meets individually to discuss employment goals and support each client’s progress. Clients are coached to lead their own employment process while receiving support from STRIVE and utilizing STRIVE’s relationships with the local business community. Graduates receive employment support/follow up service for two years to ensure employment retention and address work place issues. STRIVE commits to be a resource for its clients’ lifetimes.

STRIVE’s job retention rate averages 68% or better, measured by the number of participants continuously employed for two years following graduation. The cost per graduate in 2014 will be $3,806 calculated by dividing the number of graduates into the total expense budget. Using the same method, the total cost per job placement projects to $3,045.

Budget  $761,300.00
Category  Employment, General/Other Job Search & Placement
Population Served Unemployed, Underemployed, Dislocated Offenders/Ex-Offenders
Program Short-Term Success 
Complete more than 500 intakes applications in order to achieve 350 individuals at orientation in order for 300 clients to formally start a program cycle, with anticipated completion rates of approx. 65%; formally launch Microsoft skills training first cohort; Place 480 graduates into fulltime employment (averaging 20 placements per month for 24 months); Maintain job retention rate of 68% (one year rate) and recidivism rate below 20% (one year rate).
Program Long-Term Success 
Economic independence
Lower recidivism rates
Program Success Monitored By 
See Previous Program
Examples of Program Success 
Kimberly tried college for one year. That was the year she decided it was more profitable to sell drugs. While awaiting arraignment on nine drug charges, Kimberly went on the run. She was not alone. She was eight months pregnant. In 2003 Kimberly turned herself in. Eventually her parole is retired. She dreams somehow to work. It feels impossible.She has an open CORI showing nine drug charges. “STRIVE made me comfortable with the uncomfortable and dealing with my past. They forced me to look at what was on my table,” she says.
In her 4thweek at STRIVE, she interviews for a job. She is asked about specific experience. She answers that no, she does not have experience but she’ll work for free so she can be trained. She credits STRIVE for her renewal of confidence, for skillfully navigating a tough job interview. She is hired. Her boss is a STRIVE graduate. This city is rich with men and women who have turned their lives around. STRIVE is part of Boston’s biography.

Job Readiness and Attitudinal Development

 In 2014, STRIVE will conduct employment programs for a general population, ex-offenders, and a GED educational component. Boston STRIVE serves chronically unemployed older youth and adults as well as ex-offenders who have struggled to find any traction in the labor economy. Many have been sporadically employed but lack the professional skills to maintain employment. Others have given up and no longer believe opportunity exists. As graduates transition from phase 1 (job readiness) to phase 2 (job development) they are literally breaking through their own glass ceiling that had previously prevented them from succeeding.

The STRIVE Model is based on a five week, full-time workshop that simulates the rigors of a full-time job and does for five (5) weeks what an employer will do for ninety 90 days. If a participant cannot get through five weeks of STRIVE it is doubtful that he/she will last through a probation period upon employment. Clients focus on punctuality, assertiveness, time management, positive mental attitude, and workplace etiquette.

The ultimate goal is to better prepare all Boston STRIVE participants for today’s professional workplace and enable them to advance to middle or upper income levels as they progress in their careers. Clients learn the value of timeliness, professional dress, accepting and applying constructive feedback, team work, and managing professional relationships. Clients learn to navigate the Internet and use basic computer skills; they learn to create a resume and practice over and over interviewing techniques. They learn about themselves and grow as individuals. The hallmark of the STRIVE Model is that it allows its clients to address emotional scars, begin healing, and take small critical steps towards a stable and employed life.



Budget  $761,300.00
Category  Employment, General/Other Job Training & Employment
Population Served Unemployed, Underemployed, Dislocated Offenders/Ex-Offenders
Program Short-Term Success 
Each training workshop lasts five weeks in duration (200 hours); upon completion graduates transition to phase 2, which is job development. The STRIVE model is intensive. Nearly 40% will not complete the five weeks. It is our belief that moving clients through who continue to exhibit characteristics not up to STRIVE's standards will not succeed on thier own in a competitive labor market.  
Program Long-Term Success 
Long term success for Boston STRIVE will mean that unemployment is no longer a problem, that adults in the community are employed at jobs that pay liveable wages, thereby increasing the amount of tax revenue contributed and disposable income at hand.
Program Success Monitored By  STRIVE began implementing Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) software in 2012 to track staff efforts, performance indicators, outcomes, and synthesize data into knowledge.STRIVE’s outcomes are measurable and verifiable.Its job program benchmarks are the number of persons:attending orientation, starting training, graduating from training, obtaining jobs and still working two years after graduation.Also measured are educational outcomes including the number of graduates:entering GED courses, gaining GED certification, completing college prep classes, enrolling in a community college, and earning a college degree or certificate.STRIVE evaluates its performance against the goals set in its business plan at the beginning of each year (written by management and approved by the board).Progress against plan and year-end results are published in regular quarterly reports and a year-end operations report mailed to contributors and others.The plans also cover budgets, staffing, facilities and programs.
Examples of Program Success 

As Frank neared his prison release he had little clue to what he would do next. He had never held a job in his life, had no training, and no useful network to utilize. “Then I met a guy in prison. He told me about STRIVE. I then met Ben Thompson (then STRIVE executive director) and figured this might be a good place to start.” Frank was released from prison on a Monday morning in 2003. That very day he walked into STRIVE.

At STRIVE Frank put his heart into the five weeks. He learned important things like making a resume and how to plan and execute a job search. If he showed a hint of veering Ben drew him back to his larger purpose. Most importantly, he gained the confidence to promote himself, to explain his past but to also articulate his potential.
After completing STRIVE Frank was hired by Valvoline. Frank was promoted steadily from entry level technician to senior technician to assistant manager to manager.


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Ms. Charmane Higgins
CEO Term Start Dec 2005
CEO Email
CEO Experience Charmane Higgins was named Deputy Executive Director of STRIVE in December 2005 and Executive Director on August 1, 2008. Prior to joining STRIVE, Charmane was Director, Cultural Health Initiatives at the American Heart Association, Framingham, Massachusetts. From 1999 to 2003, she served, first, as Career Services Manager and, then, as Assistant Director of Operations for Boston Private Industry Council. Before this, she held positions at Cellular One in Boston and at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. Charmane holds a BA degree from Wellesley College and an MA degree from University of Texas. In 2003, she earned an MBA degree from Simmons School of Management, Boston, MA.
Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Mr. Kevin Davis Director of Operations Alan Spencer signed on with Boston Employment Service as a Placement Specialist in January 2002 after he completed STRIVE Academy, a five day staff training course conducted by “STRIVE National” in New York City. In the past decade Alan has been promoted from Trainer (2002) to Director of Ex-Offender Programs (2004) to Director of Programs (2008) and most recently in 2012, Director of Operations. Alan’s professional experience includes social work with Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance and Massachusetts Department of Social Services.
Ms. Crissilla Paris Senior Trainer Crissilla Parris joined STRIVE as Adminstrative Assistant in February 2002 upon graduating from STRIVE training. She was appointed Placement Specialist in 2002; Trainer in 2004 and Senior Trainer in January 2009. Prior to her work at STRIVE, she served as an administrative assistant for eleven years at Simmons College and as a customer service representative at three firms. Crissilla graduated from Hyde Park High School in 1982, holds a diploma from Bethel Bible Institute, and is an alumna of the Institute for Nonprofit Management and Leadership at Boston University School of Management.
Mr. Rupert Saunders Senior Job Placement Specialist Rupert Saunders was appointed Placement Specialist in March 2002, after serving 14 years of a 20 year sentence at federal penitentiaries in Lewisburg, Pennsylivania and Otisville, New York. While in prison, Rupert obtained a BS degree in Science and Behavoiral Health from University of New York as well as an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts from Mercy College of New York City. At Lewisburg, he co-founded an attitudinal program, “Doing Time with the Right Mind,” for young inmates. Prior to incarceration, he served as a youth crisis counselor at Vera Institute of Justice and as a youth counselor at Covenant House in New York City. In January 2009, he became Senior Placement Specialist.


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


STRIVE National’s selection of Boston STRIVE as a sub grantee in STRIVE for the Future (SFF), a US Department of Labor Reintergration for Ex-Offenders initiative, led STRIVE to organize a collaboration of 11 local, state and non-profit agencies. Through SFF, STRIVE will also work closely with the Department of Youth Services, The Work Place, United Souls, and a number of agencies with existing relationships with STRIVE. Clients also become part of STRIVE’s larger community and benefit from collaborations with the Whittier Street Health Clinic (men’s health workshops), Codman Square Neighborhood Community Development (financial literacy), and Solutions at Work (free professional attire for job interviewing).


The US Federal District Courts work with STRIVE through RESTART, an initiative that allows STRIVE to inform inmates, probation officers, and judges about its attitudinal development model. STRIVE is actively involved in Roxbury Choice, an alternative sentencing initiative that provides probationers the opportunity to enroll at STRIVE as part of a support team that includes the court, probation, the District Attorney’s office and social service providers.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 7
Number of Part Time Staff 1
Number of Volunteers 10
Number of Contract Staff 2
Staff Retention Rate % 89%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 7
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 1
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 2
Male: 6
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 2
Management Succession Plan No
Business Continuity of Operations Plan --
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
State Charitable Solicitations Permit No
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually


Board Chair Mr. William J Walczak
Board Chair Company Affiliation Shawmut Construction
Board Chair Term Dec 2009 -
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr. Arthur J Brewster Boston Police Voting
Ms. Beth Cuzzone Goulston & Storrs Voting
Rev. William E Dickerson II Greater Love Tabernacle Voting
Ms. Marie Downey Best Corp. Voting
Mr. Samuel A Hartwell STRIVE International Co-Founder & Chaiman Emeritus Voting
Ms. Lisa Kaplan Bridgespan Voting
Ms. Ann N Messina Goulston & Storrs Voting
Mr. Kitt Sawitsky Goulston & Storrs Voting
Ms. Jennifer J Tenczar Boston Financial Investment Management, LP Voting
Mr. William J Walczak Shawmut Construction Voting
Mr. Ernest E Washington Jr. Vanguard Parking Services, Inc. Voting
Ms. Monica Zeno-Martin Youthbuild Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr. Angel Bermudez AHB & Associates Exofficio
Mr. John Goodhue Maritime Consultant NonVoting
Mr. Arnold Hiatt The Striderite Foundation NonVoting
Mr. Hubie Jones Dean Emeritus Boston University School of Social Work NonVoting
Mr. Wayne Kennard Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr NonVoting
Ms. Patricia McGovern Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center NonVoting
Mr. Geoffrey Nunes Millpore Foundation NonVoting
Ms. Anne Peretz The Family Center Exofficio

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 4
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 8
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 6
Male: 6
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths --
Board Term Limits --
Board Meeting Attendance % 80%
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Under Development
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions --
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • Board Governance
  • Finance

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2011 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2010 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2014 to Dec 31, 2014
Projected Income $775,452.00
Projected Expense $761,974.00
Form 990s

2012 Form 990

2011 Form 990

2010 Form 990

2009 Form 990

Audit Documents

2012 Audited Financials

2011 Audited Financials

2010 Audited Financials

2009 Audited Financials

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2012 2011 2010
Total Revenue $674,816 $758,004 $959,846
Total Expenses $722,212 $888,912 $663,622

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2012 2011 2010
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $673,237 $756,914 $958,377
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $1,535 $1,057 $1,385
Investment Income, Net of Losses $44 $33 $84
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2012 2011 2010
Program Expense $472,278 $556,047 $432,640
Administration Expense $194,404 $263,811 $178,871
Fundraising Expense $55,530 $69,054 $52,111
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 0.93 0.85 1.45
Program Expense/Total Expenses 65% 63% 65%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 8% 9% 5%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2012 2011 2010
Total Assets $352,999 $580,057 $643,872
Current Assets $324,298 $529,857 $605,119
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $58,561 $94,197 $27,104
Total Net Assets $294,438 $485,860 $616,768

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2012 2011 2010
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy N/A
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 3.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2012 2011 2010
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 5.54 5.62 22.33

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2012 2011 2010
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above are per the organization's audited financials.  Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?


2. What are your strategies for making this happen?


3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?


4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?


5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?