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Boston Education Skills & Training (BEST) Corp. Hospitality Training Center

 101 Station Landing, Fourth Floor
 Medford, MA 02155
[P] (617) 542-1177
[F] --
Marie Downey
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 20-0917822

LAST UPDATED: 12/14/2018
Organization DBA BEST Corp.
BEST Hospitality Training
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years Yes


Mission StatementMORE »

Our mission is to provide individuals with the education, skills and training to excel in the hospitality industry and in their personal lives.

Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide individuals with the education, skills and training to excel in the hospitality industry and in their personal lives.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year July 01, 2018 to June 30, 2019
Projected Income $1,549,955.00
Projected Expense $1,549,242.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Career Coaching
  • Education Program
  • Skills Training
  • Tech Program
  • Volunteer Program

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

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


Mission Statement

Our mission is to provide individuals with the education, skills and training to excel in the hospitality industry and in their personal lives.

Background Statement

BEST (Boston Education, Skills & Training) Hospitality Training was founded in 2004 as a 501(c)3 in response to the growing skills gap in the hospitality industry. The organization’s mission is to provide individuals the education, skills and training to excel in the hospitality industry and in their personal lives. We started by conducting a needs analysis with major hotel employers, hotel employees, and Unite Here Local 26, the labor union representing these employees. Based on this information and with the support of our hotel partners, we began offering classes to eligible hotel workers. With the support of public and private grants, we began to train people seeking entry into the well-paid portion of the growing hospitality sector. BEST Hospitality Training now offers classes for incumbent workers including English for Hospitality, Technology Skills, US Citizenship Preparation, Academic Skills, Banquet Service, and Basic Culinary Arts. Certification trainings include CPR/AED, Food Safety, and TIPs (the safe serving of alcohol). For those seeking entry into well-paid hospitality jobs, BEST Hospitality Training offers the Introduction to Hospitality Training Program. In 2015 our program was registered by the Department of Labor as a Pre-Apprenticeship program. Our simulated work site includes a full size hotel room and professional kitchen. We have a team of career coaches who help our students apply for and succeed in their jobs. Our employer partners invest in their employees beyond good wages. They offer benefits that include affordable health care, a pre-paid legal plan, paid sick time, vacation, a defined benefit pension plan and a $10,000 first time home-buying loan.

We have learned that hotel workers with strong social networks typically access benefits to achieve their goals. Other hotel workers operate in isolation and struggle to get ahead. BEST Hospitality Training is uniquely positioned to address this disparity. Our clients come from 88 countries and speak 48 languages, yet we see them reach across the classroom and the workplace to help each other. Our teaching and coaching models focus on building social capital among hotel workers and shining a light on pathways to a better life. Investing in BEST Hospitality Training is a commitment to ensuring the economic, long-term success of thousands of families in Greater Boston and to higher quality service in our partner hotels.

Impact Statement

BEST was founded in 2004 as a 501 c(3) non-profit workforce development program focused on the well-paid sector of the hospitality industry. We combine pre-employment and incumbent worker training designed to meet the labor needs of our hotel partners. Our classes include English for Hospitality, computers, and citizenship prep, as well as certification skills training in Basic Culinary Skills, Food Safety, CPR, and more. Career coaches help un/under employed participants get quality jobs in hotel partners. These pre-employment students enroll in our Introduction to Hospitality Training Program.

Recent accomplishments:
  1. The Department of Labor registered BEST as a Housekeeping Pre-Apprenticeship Program in 2015. Since then, 40 graduates have completed their 1000 pre-apprenticeship hours.
  2. BEST opened an additional training site in Dudley Square on November 2016. We moved our headquarters from Chinatown to Medford in August 2017. The expansion into two sites will allow BEST to offer its Introduction to Hospitality Training Program in different communities and respond to the increased demand for hospitality workers as a result of a new casino in Everett and hotel growth in the North Shore.
  3. BEST was recognized July 2018 by The Aspen Institute for our work to deliver better business outcomes for hotels and better jobs and wages for frontline workers. 
Current goals:
  1. Boston’s hospitality industry is growing rapidly. While moving into two sites has allowed us to expand programming, we are in the midst of exploring innovative models to deliver training, including hybrid instruction (online and face-to-face) and stackable modules for shortened training. 
  2. We will diversify funding sources, monetize services for employers, and work with hotel developers to designate linkage fees to hospitality training that results in quality job placement.
  3. Continue to build a social media presence to broaden funding, advocate for good jobs, and improve perception of hospitality jobs.
  4. Improve use of data to strategize recruitment, support post-placement activity, and advancement pathways.
  5. Increase board membership by 50%.

Needs Statement

  1. BEST needs a full-time data manager to oversee BEST's robust Salesforce for NonProfits database. All staff input data which makes for copious and exciting data but also leads to data integrity processes and the ability to provide complex reporting and data analysis. Both of these are already beyond the scope of anyone already on staff at BEST. A goal would be to simplify reporting as well as identify and streamline data collection. 
  2. Funding to meet the needs in a large spike of hospitality hiring due to the unprecedented growth of hotels. Two new major hotels are opening up in the next couple of years, Encore and Omni Resorts. 
  3. $58,000 for additional coaching and case management services. Staffing support to work with a larger constituency, including the African American community. As we expand into new neighborhoods and populations we anticipate additional challenges. 
  4. $35,000 for a communications and development consultant to develop our messaging and to collaborate with executive staff to diversify funds.
  5. $25,000 for a seasoned business consultant as we monetize our services in the private market.
  6. Supplementary support for pre-employment students: transportation and grocery cards, money to buy shoes for a new job, funds for mental health counseling, etc. 

CEO Statement

At BEST we see the impact of good jobs and benefits on the lives of hard-working people every day. In spite of overwhelming odds, our students change the direction of their lives, raise their families out of poverty, and impact generations to come. BEST is distinctive for the following reasons:

The standards in our participating hotels are increasingly high and technology oriented. By keeping pace and responding to workforce development needs, we provide a well-trained hospitality workforce able to meet these rising standards.
  1. BEST has strong relationships with a growing number of employer partners. Our model combines pre-employment and incumbent worker training that helps employers hire and retain well-skilled workers.
  2. The union's benefit plan (once a client is employed in a partner hotel) provides workers with a built-in support system. Workers are protected from slipping back into poverty when faced with challenges. When workers have well-paying jobs with comprehensive benefits, our communities become stronger and more vibrant places to live.
  3. The hotel employers generously support incumbent worker training. This funding cannot be used for pre-employment training at this time, but private and public funding enables us to recruit, train, and place new workers into these life-changing jobs.
  4. BEST does comprehensive post-placement follow-up, which provides the data to demonstrate long-term impact.

The future:

Between 2001 and 2013, available jobs in the hospitality industry increased by 23%. Even during the recession, the sector managed to increase its output while continuing to hire new workers. In Greater Boston today, 35 new hotels are in the development pipeline and approximately 1,500 hospitality workers are expected to retire in the next five years. Encore Casino will hire over 4,000 hospitality workers in 2019 and Omni Resorts will employ close to 1,500 workers by 2020. As the premier hospitality training provider in Boston, BEST is expanding to meet the growing need for trained hospitality workers. These jobs are quality jobs and many don't require higher education or fluent English. Large numbers of immigrants settle in the Greater Boston area seeking opportunities and are a good fit for hospitality. We are also creating pipelines to career jobs for other underserved populations such as the US-born African American community. By expanding our already successful program, we can upskill more of Boston’s workforce to meet industry demand. This will enhance the local economy in the city – a benefit for individuals and businesses alike.

Board Chair Statement

Board Statement

Letter from Abrigal Forrester, President of the Board of Directors:

I have known BEST Hospitality Training since 2008, when I was the Manager of the Employment Resource Center at the Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts. I was involved in a professional development training program for low-income residents of Boston. The Urban League and BEST Hospitality Training partnered on an exciting project to bring more US-born African Americans into the hotel industry. Most of the residents we served at the Urban League and referred to BEST Hospitality Training are still working in luxury Boston hotels today.

Over the years, I've seen BEST Hospitality Training grow into a successful workforce development program for pre-employment and incumbent workers. I have watched BEST Hospitality Training develop strong, collaborative relationships with their employer partners. I have seen BEST Hospitality Training refine and improve their services and increase their placement and retention rates. I have seen their rise from obscurity to national recognition, due to the quality of BEST Hospitality Training's programming and the direct link to a meaningful career.

Boston's hospitality industry is expanding exponentially and BEST Hospitality Training needs your help now more than ever before. Thirty-five hotel projects are in the development pipeline today. Coupled with the retirement of thousands of baby boomer hotel workers, this increase in hotels will lead to over 2,500 hotel line staff job openings. We are in great need of trained quality hotel workers that reflect the diversity of our city.

When I look around and see cranes all over the City of Boston, I see the looming prosperity of my city. The cranes make me wonder who will reap the benefits of this development. By supporting BEST Hospitality Training services, I know I am helping our most needy residents get the good jobs that new hotels will provide. I know I am helping enable more hard-working residents buy their own homes and invest in their community. I know I am part of a pathway to the middle class, a roadmap sorely needed in today's economy.

I am proud to say I am the President of the Board for BEST Hospitality Training.

Geographic Area Served

Greater Boston Region-All Neighborhoods
City of Boston- Citywide (Indiv. neighborhoods also listed)

We serve all of the City of Boston and the Greater Boston Region with a high concentration of students in Chelsea, Dorchester, Quincy, and Roxbury. 

Organization Categories

  1. Education - Adult Education
  2. Employment - Employment Preparation & Procurement
  3. Employment -

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



Career Coaching

Since 2008, SkillWorks has funded career coaching services to assist our clients in meeting their professional goals. Coaches work with clients to determine career and education objectives, design individual career plans, write resumes, complete job searches and on-line job applications, practice for interviews and overcome barriers to advancement. Coaches provide group coaching within the skills training classes, work with clients one-on-one, and run workshops and modules such as "Resume Writing Workshop," "How to Complete On-Line Job Applications" and "Customer Service." Coaches also help clients navigate benefits and access other resources related to legal issues, housing, immigration, family concerns, financial planning, etc. as needed.
Budget  $265,000.00
Category  Employment, General/Other Job Search & Placement
Population Served Adults General/Unspecified Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees
Program Short-Term Success  Goals for the coming year:

By 2020, BEST will increase overall class enrollments by 65%. Skills training enrollments will increase at a faster rate (138%). The pre-employment population will include more U.S. born African-Americans in addition to the immigrants we have served all along. The increase in numbers and working with additional populations will require us to enlarge our coaching team. Ours is a high-touch, shorter term coaching model, which results in better long-term outcomes. Our coaches spend considerable time on intake before a candidate is even accepted into a program. Once admitted into a program, BEST coaches continue to work closely with participants. They provide coaching for interviewing, applications, placement, and retention. In 2016, BEST will expand its coaching program to meet the increased need. We seek funding to hire an additional full-time coach.
Program Long-Term Success  85% of our coaching clients will earn family-sustaining wages and receive benefits that allow them to be contributing, successful members of their communities and their workplaces. As they encounter challenges and opportunities, coaches will direct them to the resources available to them through their union benefit plan.

Thanks to BEST's recruitment, screening and training program, hotels will have a steady supply of well-qualified candidates to hire and incumbent workers will have the skills they need to excel in their jobs. BEST's programming is labor-driven. Sixteen hotels are currently under development in Boston; Wynn Casino will open up in Everett, MA in 2019 with approximately 2000 positions to fill; and almost 10% of the unionized hotel workers will be eligible for retirement within the next five years. Boston is already facing a tight labor market. In the words of The Boston Foundation President, "A labor market this tight would be a terrible thing to waste, which is why we must support and expand proven education and workforce training programs now." (Boston Globe, March 23, 2017.)
Program Success Monitored By  Outcomes are tracked in our internal web-based database. We log all contact with clients, recording signs of progress and barriers as they arise. Outcomes include: completing a resume and/or a job application; being called for an interview; obtaining a skills certification or an educational achievement; obtaining a promotion and/or a salary increase; becoming a U.S. citizen, etc. Coaches continue to check in with graduates regarding job retention and advancement for two years after placement.
Examples of Program Success  Richard Burns had been working at a security firm when he was laid off. In 2008, he enrolled in the first Room Attendant Training Program offered at BEST. His career coach helped him write a resume, complete an on-line job application, and improve his interviewing skills. Within three days of graduating, he was offered a job and started working as a room attendant at a partner hotel. He earned a good hourly wage and full benefits. With the help of his career coach, he was later able to move into a position he preferred - an attendant in the hotel's laundry department. When that hotel closed down it's laundry department, Richard's career coach helped him get a position of overnight banquet houseman. Finally, when a position opened up at his hotel for a PBX operator, Richard’s career coach helped him apply for and get that job. Now, if you call the Park Plaza, Richard may answer the phone. Richard typifies many of our graduates in that he has led co-workers and friends to BEST services to help them overcome challenges and reach their goals. Richard says he goes by the philosophy, "Each one, teach one."

Education Program

BEST Hospitality Training offers classes in English, US Citizenship Preparation and Academic Skills.

  • Classes in English for Hospitality, Computers, and Citizenship are fully funded for eligible incumbent hotel workers by the Greater Boston Hospitality Employers Local 26 Education Fund. Classes are held in the daytime and evening to accommodate workers’ schedules.
  • English for Hospitality classes meet twice a week for a total of six hours. Teachers focus primarily on speaking and listening skills.
  • Citizenship classes meet once a week for two hours. Classes prepare students for individual interviews with USCIS officers.
  • In addition to weekly computer classes, all English classes spend time weekly in the computer lab. Students learn English through the use of tablets and computers.
Budget  $475,000.00
Category  Education, General/Other Education, General/Other
Population Served Adults Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees
Program Short-Term Success 

Goals for the coming year:

  • 185 students will complete EFH coursework per year
  • 60 students will advance at least one EFH SPL on a DESE-approved assessment and will complete related coursework.
  • 54 students will participate in citizenship class.
Program Long-Term Success 

Our education classes improve students’ ability to invest in their communities through civic engagement, by purchasing homes, and by building positive relationships with neighbors and co-workers. Our English for Hospitality (EFH) students improve their ability to speak confidently with coworkers, supervisors and guests. These classes also increase students’ multicultural awareness, which supervisors report leads to a decrease in on-the-job conflicts. As a result of BEST's classes, students are able to pick up extra shifts, get promotions, increase tips, and retain jobs that guarantee annual raises. Not only do our students improve their lives through language learning but they’re doing it more quickly than their peers: On average, our EFH students increase Student Performance Levels (SPL) 30% faster than the national average. 99% of our citizenship students have successfully completed the naturalization process and over 120 students have become U.S. citizens.

Program Success Monitored By 

All education outcomes are tracked in, our internal, web-based database. Outcomes include: increase an SPL level, increase a class level, obtain GED, begin higher education, pass U.S. citizenship exam, and more. BEST uses the BEST Plus test to assess oral skills and teachers administer in-house, end-of-cycle oral and written tests. Additionally, students give end-of-cycle oral presentations and complete online surveys to track skills gain and student goals.

Examples of Program Success 

Michelle Chen exemplifies BEST's definition of success and how our Education Program, alongside other good benefits, changes lives. Michelle was working as a housekeeper at a hotel in Boston for $9/hour with no benefits before she entered BEST's Room Attendant Training in 2009. After completing the program, she got a job as a room attendant at the Park Plaza Hotel. She now earns $19.36/hour, plus a benefit plan that her employer pays for at an additional $9.23/hour. As part of her Local 26 benefits, she took advantage of BEST's English, pre-GED, computer, and citizenship classes. With help from the pre-paid legal plan, she became a US citizen. This allowed her to bring her parents to the U.S. from China to live with her. Using the $10,000 first time homebuyer benefit, she and her husband bought a house. She gave birth to two daughters. With each birth, she was able to take a 12-week maternity leave and receive 75% of her regular salary. The Director of the Park Plaza's Housekeeping department told us Michelle was the "best duvet cover changer" in all of Boston. Michelle loves her job at the Park Plaza and says, "I never want to leave".

Skills Training

BEST skills and certification trainings are for those seeking entry into or advancement within the hospitality industry. These classes meet the needs of our hotel partners and build on students’ skills. Trainings are offered as classes over several months or as stackable modules.

For job seekers, BEST offers the Introduction to Hospitality / Housekeeping Pre-Apprenticeship Program. This 150-hour, six-week, full time pre-apprenticeship program trains participants for positions in hotel housekeeping departments. The related classroom instruction includes components such as hands-on skills training in a model hotel room, ergonomics, chemical safety and blood-borne pathogens, cross-cultural communication skills, customer service, professionalism, non-harassment, financial literacy, computer skills, interview skills, hotel branding and two weeks of job shadowing. Upon completion, participants work with career coaches on their job search. Graduates receive a Massachusetts Department of Labor Housekeeping Pre-Apprenticeship credential. An articulation agreement between Bunker Hill Community College and BEST awards nine college credits to pre-apprentice graduates pursuing a hospitality certificate or associates degree upon completion of their prior learning assessment portfolio. Classes are held at our Dudley Square Training Center located at 2201 Washington St., Roxbury, MA.

Housekeeping Apprenticeship: Graduates of BESTs pre-apprenticeship program seek hotel housekeeping positions in partner hotels. Many of BESTs hotel partners are signatory employers to the UNITE HERE Local 26 collective bargaining agreement, but not all. Upon hire, graduates begin on-the-job training 2,000-hour apprenticeship. BEST works closely with the hotels and the graduates during the apprenticeship. Upon successful completion of the apprenticeship, graduates earn a nationally recognized certification from the Massachusetts Department of Labor and three additional credits at Bunker Hill Community College.

For incumbent workers, BEST offers classes in Basic Culinary Skills and On-Call Banquet Service. Stand-alone modules and certification trainings include: Knife Skills, CPR/AED, and Food Safety. Incumbent classes are funded by hotel employers who pay into an Education Trust Fund.
Budget  $675,000.00
Category  Education, General/Other Vocational Education
Population Served Adults General/Unspecified General/Unspecified
Program Short-Term Success 
  • 85 clients will receive industry-specific, nationally recognized certification trainings.
  • 90% of participants in BEST Corp.’s Room Attendant Training Program will be placed in well-paying positions within four months of graduation.
  • 85% of BEST Corp. placements will have minimum one-year job retention.
  • 100% of all BEST Corp. placements will show an increase in wages as a result of the training.
  • Over the next year skills training enrollment will grow from 199 participants to 289 as an important step in our five-year growth plan.
  • Over the next five years, the apprenticeship program will increase with funding from the Department of Labor, through the City of Boston.
Program Long-Term Success  BEST Corp. skills trainings enable Boston’s working poor and disadvantaged residents to gain entry into career hospitality jobs and advance within the industry. Our training graduates earn family-sustaining wages and receive benefits that allow them to be contributing, successful members of their communities. Finally, our trainings are a good return on investment. A Social Return on Investment analysis calculates that for the between 2011 and 2016, BEST Corp.’s Room Attendant Training Program has resulted in an estimated $5.3 million savings to society based largely on increased tax revenue and decreases in Medicaid spending. (
Program Success Monitored By  BEST Corp. documents demographic information and participant achievements in our internal Salesforce database. Demographic information includes native language, Boston neighborhood, salary at intake, whether a participant is receiving public benefits, etc. We also track data such as English level, skills certifications, job retention and advancements, "life enhancements" such as buying a home, and referrals. Staff, including coaches who input log notes, record time spent on each client interaction. Regular reporting reflects the impact of the different training programs as well as areas for adjustment or improvement.
For three years now, BEST Corp. has hosted graduate students from Boston College School of Social Work and Northeastern School of Public Policy. These students have done in-depth analysis of our data and used focus groups, surveys and interviews to document the impact of our services. More recently, two MIT Sloan School Executive MBA students and a pro-bono management consultant analyzed our data. Funders, specifically SkillWorks (Abt Associates) and English for New Bostonians, also analyze our data and share their findings.
Examples of Program Success  In 2007, Margarida Jurgensen came to the U.S. from Cape Verde in search of a better life. She started working at McDonalds for minimum wage with no benefits. She wanted to move up from food prep to cashier, but needed higher English skills, so began taking classes at Burke High School in Roxbury. In class, she learned of the HTC’s Room Attendant Training Program and came for an interview. After being accepted to the training program, Margarida progressed quickly: She learned about resume writing, customer service skills, and made friends. When she began interviewing for jobs after graduation, she reported feeling confident and prepared, and was quickly offered a position at the Ritz-Carlton Boston Common as a Room Attendant. Margarida went from earning minimum wage to over $19/hour with comprehensive benefits: “I have health insurance for my kids and myself, I have dental insurance. I have sick days and paid holidays. It was like going from zero to 100. Before I made $8/hour. Now I make $21.45/hou. Before, I couldn’t take care of my kids or myself. Now, I would say, I don’t need anybody.”

Tech Program

Our technology program helps students integrate technology into their professional and personal lives. Thanks to a generous grant from the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation in 2013, our computer lab has 18 state-of-the-art touchscreen laptops, five Google tablets, five iPads, three projectors, a printer, a copier, a fax machine, a scanner, and wireless Internet access. Our workshops include two levels of stackable computer skills modules and volunteers offer weekly drop-in hours for individualized assistance. Technology classes are held once a week for 3 hours. Beginner modules offered in the 2014/15 have included: Using Windows 8 (touchscreen and mouse skills), Internet, Passwords and Online Security, Email and Spam, and Google Drive. Intermediate workshops addressed topics such as: Windows 8 (touchscreen and mouse skills), MS Word, MS Office: Excel and PPT, Google Tablets and iPads. Our computer lab is open and accessible to students whenever BEST Corp. is open.
Budget  $85,000.00
Category  Education, General/Other
Population Served Adults Families Immigrant, Newcomers, Refugees
Program Short-Term Success 
  • Increase computer class enrollments from 120 to 139 a year.
  • Sustain computer lab class completion rate at 70% or higher
  • Ensure that all students enrolled in English classes are provided with technology instruction at least once a week
  • Incorporate training on Micros handhelds (POS software used in restaurants and kitchens) in the Intro to Hospitality class
Program Long-Term Success 

BEST Corp. computer classes help students feel comfortable with technology and use technology to progress towards their professional and personal goals. Tech workshops help students follow online instructions, prevent identity theft, monitor how family members use the computer, and safeguard personal data. Our hospitality partners report that every hotel employee, regardless of his or her position, needs to be comfortable using technology in the workplace. Our classes help students keep up with the demands of the hospitality industry as well as the need for technological fluency in accessing benefits and efficiently interacting with service providers.

Program Success Monitored By 

All students who use the computer lab complete an initial assessment to determine their baseline skills. This includes completing a self-reported skills survey and an online digital assessment through Northstar. This is augmented by a post-class self-reported skills survey, the Northstar digital literacy assessment again, teachers' in-house assessments and a final project. Progress in all of these areas is tracked in BEST Corp.’s internal web-based database.

Examples of Program Success 

Mya, originally from Myanmar and now working as a lobby attendant at the InterContinental Hotel, has been taking BEST Corp’s English, computer, and skills training classes since 2008. After learning PowerPoint in one of BEST Corp.’s computer classes, she decided to incorporate these new skills into her end-of-cycle presentation in her English class. Her PowerPoint had visuals and written instructions to teach her classmates how to change ringtones on their smartphones. That same winter, Mya’s English teacher began piloting the use of the distance-learning platform This website is set up to look like Facebook and provides a space for student-teacher interaction and postings of assignments and quizzes. When Mya’s work schedule changed and she could no longer attend English class, she continued participating in lessons and completing quizzes using Edmodo.

Volunteer Program

Volunteers greatly enhance the quality of services at BEST. If a client is unable to attend our regular classes or has individual needs unmet by established programming, our volunteers work with him/her one-on-one. The majority of our volunteers tutor students in English and literacy skills. Others tutor in US Citizenship preparation, HiSET test preparation, and computer skills. Others volunteer in our computer lab, assisting with class registration, assessments, and drop-in hours.

BEST recruits volunteers for one-time contributions, such as mock interviewing or to perform non-tutoring related tasks, such as creating promotional material or helping with IT development. Recruitment is mainly through local universities, English for New Bostonians, and other volunteer initiatives: we have had NAIP AmeriCorps members every year since the start of that program in 2011. We were also one of the first agencies to sign on a ReServist, a program for professionals aged 55+ who seek positions in non-profit agencies. Finally, for the fifth consecutive year, BEST is an internship host site for a graduate student from the Boston College School of Social Work. Volunteers are trained and mentored by BEST staff.
Budget  $25,000.00
Category  Education, General/Other Vocational Education
Population Served Adults
Program Short-Term Success  Work with Boston University’s Empowerment League to recruit volunteers. Match at least 15 of these tutors with BEST Corp. students each semester. Volunteers will commit to work with BEST Corp. students for at least 1.5 hours per week for a minimum of six months.
Continue offering drop-in hours every week in the Computer Lab staffed by volunteers and work-study interns from Wentworth Institute of Technology.
Recruit at least one summer intern to provide tutoring services and assist BEST Corp. staff in developing marketing materials.
Engage four area professionals to serve as long-term career coaching volunteers helping students create resumes, practice for job interviews and submit on-line job applications.
Program Long-Term Success  As a result of volunteers, more students will improve their English, literacy and computer skills, more will pass the HiSet high school equivalency exam, and more will become US citizens. One-on-one tutors also give students valuable insight on American culture and motivate students to work towards fluency. Volunteer mock interviewers provide valuable practice for pre-employment students. This improves our job placement rate. Volunteer contributions help us increase the overall quality and scope of our offerings.
Program Success Monitored By  All volunteer data is tracked in our database, including number of student-to-volunteer matches and number of hours spent tutoring.
Examples of Program Success  Marie-Claude registered for the first level of English classes at BEST Corp. in September 2012. Marie was very motivated and requested a volunteer to help her with her English. BEST Corp. assigned her a Boston University student volunteer who, like Marie, speaks Haitian Creole. Marie’s tutor has been able to explain vocabulary and grammar concepts in Marie’s native language when necessary. They met weekly for over a year. Marie’s English level has advanced from a level 2 to a level 5 over the course of two years. This is extraordinary progress and is thanks to Marie’s determination and her volunteer’s dedication.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Ms. Marie F. Downey
CEO Term Start July 2004
CEO Email
CEO Experience

Marie Downey is the Executive Director of BEST. Her passion and commitment to hotel workers is born out of personal experience. In 1984 Marie got a job as a food server at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel. This job changed the course of her life. A high school dropout who grew up in poverty in South Boston, she had been working as a waitress at low wages with no benefits. With a well-paid job in a beautiful downtown hotel, her view of life expanded and, over the years, she found her voice and took advantage of the comprehensive benefits package available to her. While working at the hotel, Marie went back to school and eventually received a Masters in Social Work from Boston College. She worked for over twenty years at Modern Assistance Programs (MAP), an employee assistance program where she witnessed the challenges facing the largest segment of employees in the hospitality industry: immigrants. In 2004 she founded BEST.

At BEST, Marie comes face-to-face with hotel workers who are where she was 30 years ago. She knows that the $55 for a pair of nonskid shoes for your first day of work can be the difference between success or failure. She knows that a dental plan that can transform one's smile can also transform one's life. She used the first time homebuyer’s grant to purchase her first home. She has since repaid the loan and that money was used by another hotel worker to become a homeowner. She knows, from personal and professional experience, how access to mental and physical health care allows people to retain good jobs and become healthy and successful in life. Marie's life journey is the template for the approach BEST believes in: good training, a good job, and good benefits create pathways out of poverty.

Marie has been a board member of Julie’s Family Learning Program, Maria Droste Services, Edwina Martin House, and other community agencies. In 2008, Governor Deval Patrick appointed Marie to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Workforce Investment Board and in 2010, she was appointed to the Mass Workforce Training Fund Advisory Board. She received the distinction of “Marano Fellow” from the Sector Skills Academy in 2010, as well as a certificate of achievement from the Institute for Non Profit Management and Leadership at Boston University and ENB's 2016 Raising our Voices: Recognizing ESOL Leadership in Business and the Community Agents of Change award. Marie completed the LeadBoston’s experiential executive program in 2013.

Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
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Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Joan Abbot Assistant Director

Joan Abbot, Assistant Director, works closely with the Executive Director and oversees data management as well as the education program. Joan has over 20 years of experience as an ESOL teacher, teacher trainer and supervisor both in the U.S. and abroad (Sudan and Thailand). She has taught workforce development for hospitality in pre-employment and incumbent worker programs, and holds an M.Ed from Harvard University. Joan earned a certificate in Non-Profit Management and Leadership from Boston University and completed LeadBoston’s experiential executive program. Joan is a member of the Massachusetts Workforce Training Fund Advisory Board.

Mary Cronin Director of Skills Training and Operations Mary Cronin brings over 30 years of experience in professional kitchens to BEST’s Hospitality Training Center. Mary joined the team in 2008 to design and teach the culinary skills program. Her role has expanded greatly since, and she is currently the Director of Skills Training and Operations. Mary oversees all skills training programs, including Culinary, On-Call Banquet Server, and the Introduction to Hospitality Training Program. A seasoned manager, she also supervises the skills training team and all facilities management. Mary is fluent in Brazilian Portuguese and a certified trainer in TiPS, TEAM, Red Cross Chokesaver and Food Safety.


Award Awarding Organization Year
BEST Corp. Quality Training for Quality Jobs The Aspen Institute 2018
Competing on Service: The case for Good Jobs at the Omni Hotel The Aspen Institute 2018
Hospitality Apprenticeship offers Bostonian a Path to Success US Department of Labor 2018
Fast Track to a Hospitality Career US Department of Labor 2017
2010 Skills Training Provider of the Year The Workforce Solutions Group 2010
Certificate of Recognition/Greater Boston Hotel Employees Local 26 Trust Fund English Works Campaign 2009


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


Our success is a result of multiple partnerships. We are a member of the Job Training Alliance, a network of community-based workforce development organizations that utilizes the combined power of member agencies to advocate for training and employment opportunities through sustained funding for workforce development.

We partner with other workforce development agencies such as Asian American Civic Association, Boston Career Link, Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Career Collaborative, Career Solution, Career Source, Haley House, Jewish Vocational Services, Julie’s Family Learning Program, Project Hope, Project Place, among others. Our partnerships focus on a variety of efforts. We advocate to secure ongoing funding for skills training. We actively promote the development of good jobs with family-sustaining wages and access to affordable benefits. We work together to refer candidates to training programs best suited for them. Finally, we support and participate in the sharing of best practices across different areas of the work we do, including mentorship, teaching techniques, serving specific populations, offering wrap-around services, etc.

As mentioned before, we partner with over 40 socially responsible hotel employers who are involved in our program well before any skills training class is rolled out. These are some of the ways employers are involved:

Curriculum input

Provide guest trainers

Donate guest room items

Host property tours and job shadowing

Attend Job Fairs and Quarterly Advisory Meetings

Share information on openings and hire our graduates

Financially support the incumbent education worker program

Actively participate in our Hotel Liaison Program

Finally, in anticipation of substantial growth in the Boston hospitality industry, the opening of a new casino in Everett Casino in 2019, and the opening of the Omni Boston Seaport Hotel in 2020, BEST is actively developing new partnerships to enhance our capacity to train and place our graduates.

BEST staff have advisory positions in the following organizations: The Job Training Alliance, The Mass Workforce Investment Board, the Workforce Training Fund, First Literacy, and Restaurant Opportunities Center.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

BEST has developed a reputation as a model workforce training program, integrating the needs of employers, labor, the city, and its residents into one mission. There is a growing awareness of how workers in low-paid hospitality jobs are stuck, and that quality jobs with comprehensive benefits help raise people into the middle class. BEST moves people along the continuum from low wage to well-paid jobs within one industry. Our employer partners hire our graduates starting at $20.28/hour and pay an additional $9.54/hour into a comprehensive benefit plan. For many, beginning work at our partner hotels is the first time in their careers when they have benefits, guaranteed raises, a voice, and dignity in the workplace.

Experts describe the future of the Boston hospitality industry as one of “exceptional growth.” In Greater Boston today, 35 new hotels are in the development pipeline, which will create a minimum of 1,000 entry-level jobs in the housekeeping classification. An additional 1,500 incumbent workers are expected to retire in the next five years. BEST provides the pipeline to good jobs for previously low-wage workers in a rapidly growing industry. By 2020, we aim to grow total overall annual enrollments 65%. Our pre-employment skills training enrollment will increase at a faster rate (138%), bringing more candidates into the hospitality sector.

Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 9
Number of Part Time Staff 11
Number of Volunteers 23
Number of Contract Staff 4
Staff Retention Rate % 90%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 3
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 3
Caucasian: 15
Hispanic/Latino: 2
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 1
Other (if specified): Indian
Gender Female: 17
Male: 7
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 5
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration Yes

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. Abrigal Forrester
Board Chair Company Affiliation Madison Park Development Corporations
Board Chair Term Sept 2015 -
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Abrigal Forrester Director of Community Action, Madison Park Development Corporations Voting
Ms. Suzanne Lee Retired --
Jaimie McNeill UNITE HERE Local 26 --
Aparna Ramesh Chief Financial Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

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

Board Information

Board Term Lengths --
Board Term Limits --
Board Meeting Attendance % 80%
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Remarks from Suzanne Lee, Director, BEST Hospitality Training Board of Directors

When we think about the hospitality industry, we usually think about people on the bottom rung of the workforce, many of whom are low-skilled immigrant workers or high skilled immigrant workers without the English skills to move forward.

In a typical immigrant family, two or three people work full-time to earn what most Americans earn individually. Most immigrant workers get minimum wage work and hardly ever see their children because they spend so much time working. On average, immigrants spend at least 50% of their earnings on rent. If they don’t work, they don’t get paid; there’s no such thing as sick time. In these situations, workers are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their job. They won’t raise objections, even when they’re sick, because they’re scared of losing their job.

These people do some of the hardest work out there. They need to have opportunities to improve their skills, provide for their families, and give their families hope for the future.

When they get a job at a union hotel through the BEST Introduction to Hospitality Training program, it is a life changing experience for the whole family. The family’s dreams, which often center on the future of their children, are suddenly within reach.

The training program offered at BEST teaches more than just the skills needed to improve work performance in the hospitality industry; it also teaches the skills needed to improve one’s quality of life – everything from health care to their children’s education.

BEST’s job-based and health-based ESOL classes keep students healthy, teach them how to navigate the health system and give them the tools to be more effective employees. If workers are happy at their work and they know how to take care of themselves, they’re sick less often. When they’re healthier they don’t go into the crisis mode. They’re much more productive, even in their interactions with customers.

The programs at BEST gives individuals the opportunity to learn and grow through simultaneous language learning and skill building so they can then provide hope for the whole family.

Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2017 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Revenue $1,620,982 $1,464,603 $1,246,881
Total Expenses $1,599,286 $1,398,066 $1,232,237

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- --
Individual Contributions $187,817 $93,564 $57,802
Indirect Public Support $45,488 $47,040 $49,000
Earned Revenue $1,385,717 $1,322,359 $1,139,219
Investment Income, Net of Losses $1,960 $1,640 $860
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Program Expense $1,351,917 $1,122,037 $998,104
Administration Expense $204,907 $211,493 $199,612
Fundraising Expense $42,462 $64,536 $34,521
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.01 1.05 1.01
Program Expense/Total Expenses 85% 80% 81%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 18% 46% 32%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Total Assets $1,029,627 $735,263 $609,228
Current Assets $598,731 $596,283 $168,692
Long-Term Liabilities $256,434 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $135,330 $119,096 $59,598
Total Net Assets $637,863 $616,167 $549,630

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
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 2017 2016 2015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 4.42 5.01 2.83

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2017 2016 2015
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 25% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

BEST is at a critical point in our development. With the infrastructure and relationships we’ve built, a strong and experienced staff in place, and the lessons we’ve learned, an investment in BEST now is a guaranteed investment in our communities and the families that live there. (See SROI under "Other Documents.") BEST’s current incumbent services structure relies heavily on the labor/management education benefit and job seeker services are supplemented with funding from philanthropic and state/local organizations. In 2016, we secured our first ‘linkage-fee’ arrangement with a Boston hotel developer. The labor management funding is used to serve incumbent union workers only. Philanthropic and public funding (single and multi-year) for pre-employment training targets specific populations (non-native English speakers, Boston residents, underserved populations).

Looking forward, we aim to diversify our funding sources. Our current annual operating budget is approximately $1-1.2m depending on grant funding cycles. As we expand, we will need to increase grant funding to approximately $1.7m by 2020. As we increase enrollment and add new courses, we will require additional funding for teaching staff, coaching services, supplies, etc.

We are working on an updated comprehensive business plan (last one was done in 2015) that details the need and a strategy to take BEST to the next level of operations. We seek funding from new and existing partners to implement this plan.

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above is per the organization's IRS Form 990s. 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?