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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, 2014 to June 30, 2015
Projected Income $1,176,085.00
Projected Expense $1,150,947.00

ProgramsMORE »

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

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

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. BEST Hospitality Training combines 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 On-Call Banquet Server, Basic Culinary Skills, Food Safety, CPR, and more. Career coaches help under and unemployed participants get quality jobs in hotel partners. These pre-employment students enroll in our Introduction to Hospitality Training Program.

Recent accomplishments:


  1. The White House recognized BEST Hospitality Training's model at the 2015 UpSkill Summit.
  2. The Department of Labor registered BEST Hospitality Training as a Housekeeping Pre-Apprenticeship Program. With the City of Boston, we launched our first class in 2016. Seventeen students graduated and all of them got job offers. Three have now completed their 1000 pre-apprenticeship hours.
  3. Bunker Hill Community College will offer up to 12 college credits for BEST Hospitality Training graduates upon pre-apprenticeship completion. 
  4. The City of Boston and CV properties partnered with BEST Hospitality Training to designate developer linkage fees for brand-specific training.
  5. Executive MBA students at MIT Sloan delivered a set of recommendations for sustainability and growth. One of the students, the CFO of the Boston Federal Reserve, joined BEST Hospitality Training's Board of Directors.
  6. BEST Hospitality Training opened an additional training site in Dudley Square on November 16, 2016. This site will allow BEST to offer additional cycles of its Introduction to Hospitality Training Program directly in the community. 
  7. BEST Hospitality Training recently launched a new website that will serve as the branding tool to expand BEST's social media presence. 


Current goals:


  1. Expansion: Boston’s hospitality industry is growing rapidly. With the opening of our new site, we can expand programming and upskill Boston’s workforce to meet labor market demand and enhance the local economy.
  2. Development: We will diversify funding sources, monetize services for employers, and work with developers to designate linkage fees to hospitality training.
  3. Marketing: Continue to build a social media presence to broaden funding, advocate for good jobs, and improve perception of hospitality jobs.
  4. Data: Improve use of data to strategize post-placement activity and advancement pathways.
  5. Board Expansion: Increase board membership by 50%.



Needs Statement

1. Funding for first year operation costs at our satellite office: BEST Hospitality Training has expanded. First year operating costs are estimated at $350,000.

2. Staffing support to work with a larger constituency, including the African American community. As we expand into new neighborhoods and populations, we realize this will bring new challenges. We seek $58,000 for additional coaching and case management services, and $45,000 for financial empowerment services.

3. A communications and development consultant to develop our messaging and to collaborate with executive staff in the effort to diversify funding sources. $35,000.

4. Seasoned business consultant as we monetize our services on the private market. $25,000.

5. Supplementary support for pre-employment students that are necessary for success: Transportation and grocery cards during training and until a job is secured, money to buy shoes for a new job, funds for mental health counseling, etc. These expenses are often hard to predict, but can make the difference between whether or not a student succeeds.

CEO Statement

At BEST Hospitality Training 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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. The union's benefit plan (once a client is placed 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.

4. The hotel employers generously support incumbent worker training. This funding cannot be used for pre-employment training, but private and public funding enables us to recruit, train, and place new workers into these life-changing jobs.

5. 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 leisure and hospitality industry increased by 23%. Even during the recession, the sector managed to increase its real 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. As the premier hospitality training provider in Boston, BEST is expanding to meet the growing need for trained hospitality workers. These jobs are quality career 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 the already successful BEST Hospitality Training, 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 (please select all areas as well)

BEST Corp. serves a  high concentration of students in Chelsea, Roxbury, Dorchester and Quincy.
We also serve all of the  Greater Boston Region - All Neighborhoods
City of Boston - Citywide 

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  $125,000.00
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.

Moreover, the hospitality industry will benefit from the recruitment, screening, training, and ongoing employee support provided by BEST career coaches. 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.

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 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.
  • All English classes spend time weekly in the computer lab. Students learn English through the use of tablets and computers.
Budget  $385,000.00
Category  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 Corp.’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 Corp. 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 Corp.'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 Corp.'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 Corp.'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 Hospitality Training 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 those seeking entry into the industry or hoping to move into higher paying jobs, BEST Hospitality Training offers a six-week, full-time, privately and publicly funded Introduction to Hospitality Training Program. 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. In 2016, BEST ran the first housekeeping pre-apprenticeship program in the country through its Introduction to Hospitality Training class. Seventeen students graduated and all received job offers. 

Budget  $355,000.00
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. Our recent Social Return on Investment Report calculates that for the past 4.5 years, BEST Corp.’s Room Attendant Training Program has resulted in an estimated $2,404,270 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. (Please see “publications” on our website: 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 $19. Before, I couldn’t take care of my kids or myself. Now, I would say, I don’t need anybody.” Margarida’s daughter will start at a four-year college this fall, and she is in the final stages of purchasing a house with the assistance of her first-time homebuyers benefit.

    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  $60,000.00
    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 [email protected]
    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
    -- -- --

    Senior Staff

    Name Title Experience/Biography
    Joan Abbot Assitant Executive Director Joan Abbot, Assistant Director, has over 20 years of experience as an ESOL teacher, teacher trainer and teacher 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. Joan speaks French and has a Masters in Education from Harvard University. At BEST Corp. HTC, Joan works closely with the Executive Director on multi-stage projects that focus on the innovative development of BEST Corp. HTC services.
    Mary Cronin Director of Workforce Development --


    Award Awarding Organization Year
    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
    -- --


    BEST has built a strong, trusting, collaborative relationship with the 27 hotel employers and their labor partner UNITE HERE Local 26. In an industry where workers are often taken advantage of, BEST offers a short term training program that has a formal partnership with employers who start their new hires at living wages.  BEST partnered with the City of Boston to submit a Department of Labor grant for the Greater Boston American Apprenticeship Initiative and to launch the Mel King Empowerment Initiative. We are working with hotel and gaming developers, even before they’ve broken ground. We are collaborating with Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) on pre-employment training. We also refer people to organizations who train in hospitality such as IINE (for immigrants) and NECAT (for culinary). Other partners include public and private funders, the Boston PIC, the Boston Housing Authority, Career Centers, and community organizations such as Project Place and BCNC.

    BEST staff have advisory positions in the following organizations: The Job Training Alliance, The Mass Workforce Investment Board, the Workforce Training Fund, First Literacy, The Chinatown Coalition, 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 13
    Number of Volunteers 26
    Number of Contract Staff 0
    Staff Retention Rate % 88%

    Staff Demographics

    Ethnicity African American/Black: 4
    Asian American/Pacific Islander: 5
    Caucasian: 12
    Hispanic/Latino: 1
    Native American/American Indian: 0
    Other: 0
    Other (if specified): 0
    Gender Female: 16
    Male: 6
    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
    Anthony L. Gilardi Chief, Environmental, Energy and Open Space Cabinet, City of Boston Voting
    Sr. Louise Kearns Co-Founder, Julie’s Family Learning Program Voting
    Ms. Suzanne Lee Retired --
    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: 2
    Hispanic/Latino: 0
    Native American/American Indian: 0
    Other: 0
    Other (if specified): --
    Gender Female: 3
    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 2014 (%)

    Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

    Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

    Fiscal Year July 01, 2014 to June 30, 2015
    Projected Income $1,176,085.00
    Projected Expense $1,150,947.00
    Form 990s

    2014 990

    2013 990

    2012 990

    2011 990

    2010 990

    2009 990

    2008 990

    Audit Documents

    2014 Audited Financials

    2013 Audited Financials

    2012 Audited Financials

    2011 Audited Financials

    2010 Audited Financials

    2009 Audited Financials

    2008 Audited Financials

    IRS Letter of Exemption

    IRS Letter of Determination

    Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

    Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
    Total Revenue $1,138,078 $1,220,592 $1,222,661
    Total Expenses $1,110,824 $1,180,335 $1,393,693

    Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

    Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
    Foundation and
    Corporation Contributions
    -- -- --
    Government Contributions $58,000 $0 $0
        Federal -- -- --
        State -- -- --
        Local -- -- --
        Unspecified $58,000 -- --
    Individual Contributions $400 $85,994 --
    Indirect Public Support -- -- --
    Earned Revenue $1,079,302 $1,134,164 $1,194,186
    Investment Income, Net of Losses $376 $434 $461
    Membership Dues -- -- --
    Special Events -- -- --
    Revenue In-Kind -- -- $28,014
    Other -- -- --

    Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

    Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
    Program Expense $856,619 $918,587 $923,043
    Administration Expense $214,082 $219,379 $233,015
    Fundraising Expense $40,123 $42,369 $31,368
    Payments to Affiliates -- -- $206,267
    Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.02 1.03 0.88
    Program Expense/Total Expenses 77% 78% 66%
    Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 69% 49% 0%

    Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

    Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
    Total Assets $588,386 $555,624 $516,283
    Current Assets $421,165 $399,715 $354,111
    Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
    Current Liabilities $53,400 $47,892 $48,808
    Total Net Assets $534,986 $507,732 $467,475

    Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

    Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
    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? Yes
    Capital Campaign Purpose Based on growing demand for trained hospitality workers, BEST has expanded its Job Seeker Training services to Roxbury. BEST seeks support for increased operating costs to make this expansion a success.
    Campaign Goal $600,000.00
    Capital Campaign Dates Aug 2015 - Aug 2016
    Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
    Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

    Short Term Solvency

    Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
    Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 7.89 8.35 7.26

    Long Term Solvency

    Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
    Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 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 funding structure relies heavily on the labor/management education benefit, supplemented with funding from philanthropic and state/local organizations. Recently, 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 recently completed a comprehensive business plan 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 990 for FY14 and per the audited financials for FY13 and FY12. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.


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