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Just A Start Inc.

 1035 Cambridge Street #12
 Cambridge, MA 02141
[P] (617) 494-0444
[F] (617) 494-8348
Theresa Sullivan
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 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 23-7121174

LAST UPDATED: 08/10/2018
Organization DBA Just-A-Start Corporation
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No


Mission StatementMORE »

Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, Just-A-Start (JAS) is a community development corporation dedicated to building the housing security and economic stability of low- to moderate-income people in Cambridge and nearby communities. Through innovative, comprehensive, and integrated programs, JAS creates and preserves affordable housing, provides housing resources and services, offers education and workforce training for youth and adults, and builds community engagement. JAS’s vision is a better future for each and every community member: a secure home, a sustaining career, and engagement in the community. 

Mission Statement

Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, Just-A-Start (JAS) is a community development corporation dedicated to building the housing security and economic stability of low- to moderate-income people in Cambridge and nearby communities. Through innovative, comprehensive, and integrated programs, JAS creates and preserves affordable housing, provides housing resources and services, offers education and workforce training for youth and adults, and builds community engagement. JAS’s vision is a better future for each and every community member: a secure home, a sustaining career, and engagement in the community. 

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018
Projected Income $5,158,453.00
Projected Expense $5,510,978.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Biomedical Careers Program/IT Careers Program
  • Housing Services
  • JAS YouthBuild
  • Real Estate Development
  • TeenWork (Youth Program)

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

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


Mission Statement

Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, Just-A-Start (JAS) is a community development corporation dedicated to building the housing security and economic stability of low- to moderate-income people in Cambridge and nearby communities. Through innovative, comprehensive, and integrated programs, JAS creates and preserves affordable housing, provides housing resources and services, offers education and workforce training for youth and adults, and builds community engagement. JAS’s vision is a better future for each and every community member: a secure home, a sustaining career, and engagement in the community. 

Background Statement

JAS was founded in 1968 as a community revitalization and youth training program focused on improving Cambridge’s then-struggling Wellington-Harrington neighborhood. JAS was officially incorporated as a multi-service organization for community development programs in 1971. Since then, the organization has grown to provide affordable housing programs, housing stabilization and homelessness prevention, and training, education, and related services for low- to moderate-income youth and adults.

As a dynamic multi-service organization, JAS continues to grow and evolve to reinforce its impact on Cambridge and surrounding communities. Recent improvements to core functions include restructuring financial management, increasing fundraising capacity, overhauling IT systems, and better integrating programs to provide clients with a broader range of services that will more effectively meet all of their needs. Additionally, the organization’s Strategic Plan for 2016 to 2020 was developed to focus efforts more effectively, ensure the fiscal vitality of the organization, and serve greater numbers of community members. JAS also recently gained official certification as a Community Development Corporation (CDC) and was awarded an allocation of $125,000 in Community Investment Tax Credits in 2017 by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. These innovative tax credits support CDC’s fundraising capabilities by allowing donors to claim a tax credit (or, when no tax liability receive a cash payment) from the state equal to 50% of their contribution to JAS.

JAS is governed by a 15-member volunteer Board of Directors, the vast majority of whom are residents of communities served by the organization. JAS is managed by an Executive Director with extensive experience in non-profit leadership including strategic planning for new services, facilities, and programs; advocacy, community relations, and financial management. JAS has an annual budget of approximately $5.6 million, which is supported by funding from a variety of public and private grants, contracts, and fees. JAS has three divisions of programming: Real Estate Development, Housing Resources, and Education & Training. A senior manager leads each division and all three incumbents in these roles have advanced degrees related to their field. Across these divisions, the agency employs 46 individuals who work at two facilities located in Cambridge.

Impact Statement

2017 Accomplishments

· Provided affordable rental housing for approximately 1,500 Cambridge residents in an increasingly competitive, high-priced market area.

· Delivered education and workforce development services to over 250 low- to moderate-income youth and adults through the operation of four Education and Training programs.

· Provided housing resources, including homelessness prevention, home improvement resources, and other supportive services to approximately 1,500 individuals.

· Designed and implemented a Financial Capability program to help improve the financial well-being of JAS residents, clients, and neighbors.

· Researched, designed, and implemented the Information Technology Careers Program to nearly double the total of adults served by JAS’s Education and Training Programs.

2018 Goals

  1. Continue to upgrade and preserve existing portfolio through a comprehensive financing plan.
  2. Develop and/or obtain approvals for 150 new units of housing over the next three years.
  3. Enhance the capacity of Just-A-Start residents to retain stable housing and thrive.
  4.  Prevent evictions and increase housing stability for households in crisis or at risk in Cambridge and Metro North communities.
  5. Increase education and sustainable career outcomes for low-income and immigrant adults in Cambridge and nearby communities.
  6.  Increase the number of youth in Cambridge, Chelsea, and nearby Metro North communities who gain education and workplace experiences leading to successful post-secondary and job placements.
  7. Develop an employer engagement approach based on the framework defined for the Education and Training Workforce Development programs.


Needs Statement

Preparing for the organization’s 50th anniversary provided structured opportunities for reflection, capacity building, and strategic planning. Amidst a rapidly changing urban landscape, JAS’s most pressing needs are:

1. The continued diversification of financial support for the organization. JAS is committed to generating increased private support for its programs and operations, as well as strengthening funding relationships with corporations.

2. The completed implementation of a centralized data collection system to: a) support program management, b) demonstrate and track program results and outcomes, and c) support fundraising efforts.

3. The continued ability to expand affordable housing opportunities in a dense, high value, urban real estate market. Market rate housing and land in Cambridge has reached astronomical prices, forcing many middle and lower income residents to choose between spending the majority of their income on housing, or moving to another community. JAS will explore every opportunity to expand the availability of affordable and workforce housing, despite challenges posed by density and limited availability of land.

4. The continued development of corporate and employer partnerships to support JAS’s workforce development programs. Advisory support for the Biomedical and IT Careers Programs is critical to ensure that each program remains aligned with industry needs in order to best serve both program graduates and prospective employers.

5. The expansion of the Financial Capability program for JAS residents and program participants to provide clients with the tools to increase their economic stability.

CEO Statement

Just-A-Start is a bridge to opportunity for each and every community member – to opportunities for housing, education, and jobs. Whether individuals need a bridge to a safe, affordable home, educational growth, or a career pathway, Just-A-Start is committed to providing equitable access to opportunity for all. In 2017, Just-A-Start built bridges for 3,500 individuals in Cambridge and surrounding communities, helping to ensure that residents can work, learn, stay, and thrive where they live.

2018 is Just-A-Start’s 50th Anniversary year, and we are excited about sharing the year’s celebrations with the community and our partners! Over the past fifty years, Just-A-Start has grown from a neighborhood revitalization and youth training program into a community development corporation guided by one vision: a better future for each community member with access to safe, affordable housing, a sustaining career, and engagement in the community. We invite you to explore Just-A-Start’s profile to learn more about our breadth of programs and resources, all supported by donors like you.

Board Chair Statement

For 50 years, Just-A-Start has been a bridge to opportunity for youth and adults in and around Cambridge. Just-A-Start was created in 1968 as an innovative response to the passionate unrest of the 1960s in Cambridge, to engage teens in helping others in their community to show them the power of education and community engagement. Sponsored by the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority, Just-A-Start was launched as a summer youth program in the Wellington-Harrington neighborhood, with 25 youth repairing homes, playgrounds, and community space. Now, 50 years later, Just-A-Start is a community development corporation that serves 3,500 low-to-moderate income youth and adults in and around Cambridge, helping them stay, study, work, and thrive in their communities.

JAS’s 50 years are full of innovative solutions to pressing urban issues from education and employment to civic engagement and housing. JAS’s affordable housing, education, job training, and housing resources programs help stabilize the lives of individuals in Cambridge and put them on a path to success. As we look forward to the next 50 years as a good neighbor and community partner, we know the need is great for us to do more – to create more access to homes, jobs, and resources to ensure that all low-to-moderate income individuals and families have the full range of support necessary to achieve housing and economic stability in a community that is rapidly changing.

In our 50th anniversary year, we will build off of a solid organizational foundation: dedicated, strategic leadership and staff; stable financial operations and funding; responsive, appropriate programs and resources; a dynamic real estate portfolio; a strong network of City and community partners; and thousands of residents whose lives have been changed by Just-A-Start. With support from a broad community of partners, donors, clients, and neighbors, we will strengthen existing programs and develop new programs to serve more community residents. Just-A-Start’s mission is always to proactively anticipate and identify community needs, and to thoughtfully and effectively respond to those needs. Together, we will change the futures of youth and families in our community, ensuring that each resident will have equal access to opportunities for a safe, affordable home, a sustaining career, and engagement in the community.

Geographic Area Served


JAS’s programs serve Cambridge and surrounding communities. JAS provides affordable rental and home ownership housing and home improvement assistance in Cambridge, MA. Homelessness prevention services are available to residents of Cambridge and nearby communities including Malden, Everett, Revere, and Somerville. Depending on the program, JAS’s education and training programs are open to residents of Cambridge as well as surrounding Metro North and Greater Boston communities.

Organization Categories

  1. Housing, Shelter - Housing Development, Construction & Management
  2. Education - Educational Services
  3. Employment - Job Training

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



Biomedical Careers Program/IT Careers Program

 The Biomedical Careers Program and IT Careers Program are intensive, tuition-free, 9-month programs that prepare under-resourced adults for skilled, entry-level jobs in the biomedical or information technology industries. In the Biomedical Careers Program, classroom instruction includes biology, chemistry, computers, and medical terminology, followed by laboratory skills training at Bunker Hill Community College. The IT Careers Program curriculum is comprised of one semester of classroom learning including software and hardware, followed by a paid internship at a local partner employer. Students in both programs are provided support services to address potential barriers to students’ success, while career development training, including interviewing skills, resume preparation, and letter writing, prepares them to enter the job market. Job placement assistance is provided for at least 12 months after graduation. Partners with local industry representatives provide curriculum review, guest speakers, field trip visits to local biotech and IT companies, an annual Job Fair, and job referrals. 

The Biomedical Careers Program enrolls 20 low/moderate income individuals annually and the IT Careers Program enrolls 15-20 students per cohort, most of whom are unemployed, underemployed or displaced workers. The average age of students is mid-30s, and many continue to hold jobs while enrolled to support families during enrollment in the program. Many students are immigrants with good educational/skills backgrounds who have been unable to access career-level employment in the US. The student population is very diverse, with recent classes having the following demographic characteristics: 49% male, 51% female; 20% Asian, 35% Black/African American, 12% Latino/a, 18% white, 15% other; 54% having first language other than English. Most students live in Greater Boston/Metro North communities.

Budget  $703,000.00
Category  Education, General/Other Postsecondary Education
Population Served Adults Unemployed, Underemployed, Dislocated Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program Short-Term Success 

2018 Biomedical Careers Program Outcomes:

·         - Provide 20 low- to moderate-income adults with intensive education and training in the biomedical industry.

·         - 90% of participants will successfully graduate from the training program.

·         - 75% of graduates will be placed into entry level life sciences, biotech, or research positions.

·         - Graduates who begin biomedical careers will increase their annual income by an average of more than $10,000.

2018 IT Careers Program Outcomes:

·        - Provide 30 (in two cohorts) low- to moderate-income adults with intensive education and training in the IT industry.

·         - 90% of participants will successfully graduate from the training program.

·         - 75% of graduates will be placed into entry level IT user support positions.

Program Long-Term Success 

The expected long term success is a sustaining career in a related industry that will provide opportunities for financial security and economic mobility. It is anticipated that 90% of graduates will remain employed in a skilled career field providing a living wage for the remainder of their work lives, and will significantly increase their previous annual earnings, resulting in an improved quality of life for themselves and their families. JAS also expects that there will be significant community impact in terms of savings in declining rates of receipt of public benefits accompanied by higher rates of taxes paid by participants over their working careers.

Program Success Monitored By 

Staff maintain records of every enrollee (including graduates and dropouts) and confirm each reported job placement through the employer, collecting information such as name of employer and address, supervisor, job title, salary data, weekly hours, and start date. Staff follow up at least quarterly with all placed individuals for at least one year to support and monitor their success. Student data is collected into Salesforce, a centralized database used by the Evaluation and Assessment Team to track program outcomes and recommend future program improvements. 

Annual reviews and monitoring site visits are conducted by various private and public funding sources, including the City of Cambridge, to ensure the program is reaching outcome goals. Over its 22 year history, all monitoring visits have indicated acceptable workforce development standards.

Examples of Program Success 

An independent assessment (conducted by the UMass Boston Center for Social Policy) of the increased earnings of participants during the past 5 years has demonstrated that the average class increases its earnings by $311,000 annually. 

With the tools and resources provided by the JAS Biomedical Careers Program, a recent graduate, Luc indicates “The program has given me a start to achieve my goals and be able to provide for my family.” Luc went on to enroll in a Bio-Manufacturing program at Middlesex College. Luc’s spouse also went through the Biomedical Careers Program and was able to acquire a certificate and gain employment in the biomedical sector. “Just-A-Start’s Biomedical Careers program gave my family and me the opportunity to afford a lifestyle that we may have not had otherwise.”

Housing Services

Individuals and families referred to Housing Services are typically at risk of eviction, at risk of homelessness, and are unstable with respect to financial, educational, and work issues. Housing Services assist these individuals and families to become stable for the long term with respect to preserving affordable housing, establishing financial independence, advancing personal, educational and work goals, and strengthening family stability. Housing Services also assists these individuals and families to establish effective communication and conflict management practices and gain knowledge of and access to a wide range of resources, programs and services available to them. Additionally, Housing Services works with homeowners to resolve conflicts and educate condominium associations as to how to maintain their housing asset and work together. The individuals served by Housing Service learn what their legal rights and responsibilities are to help them become effective advocates for maintaining stable housing and resources for themselves and their families.


Budget  $548,000.00
Category  Housing, General/Other Housing Support
Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent Families Unemployed, Underemployed, Dislocated
Program Short-Term Success 

- 90% of individuals and families for whom mediation is provided will have either avoided eviction and homelessness or will be able to relocate to and stabilize themselves in new affordable housing.

- 80% of the families who are provided with comprehensive homelessness prevention services – rental assistance, dispute resolution, case management and stabilization – will avoid eviction and homelessness while increasing their overall economic stability.

- 90% of small property owners who receive affordable legal services will regain legal, financial and management stability for themselves and their properties.

Program Long-Term Success  Individuals and families will have stabilized housing. Housing is the foundation for family stability, employment, optimal health, and academic performance of children.
Program Success Monitored By 

JAS Housing Services measures progress and outcomes through careful follow up with and monitoring of the individuals and families that we serve. For mediation and legal services cases, staff follow through and/or monitor clients in order to maximize compliance with agreements reached. Housing Services will provide further mediation and/or legal services when agreements break down. For homelessness prevention clients, staff follow up by monitoring housing and service plans, tracking compliance, conducting interviews, and providing collateral services needed to maximize the value of interventions provided. While monetary assistance is the initial stage for most individuals and families that receive homelessness prevention services, full stabilization case management and follow-up are inherent in JAS programs. Staff enter required information into our Housing Management Information System (HMIS) to document and monitor measurable outcomes.

Examples of Program Success 

One program client was a domestic violence survivor. She had left her batterer to move to MA to be closer to a family member. When she first entered our program she was on the verge of homelessness. She was an immigrant whose green card had expired, making it impossible for her to find work. With Housing Services’s help, she secured housing using rental assistance that we provided. Staff assisted her in school placement for her child who had special needs, and advised her how to obtain child care. Staff were instrumental in helping her find support services for her immigration issues. She has since received her permanent green card, is in a training program, and is actively looking for work. Program staff also assisted her with dispute resolution with a landlord, and helped her move to a new and less stressful environment. Her children are secure and happy, and she is well on her way to becoming a productive member of her community. She will be applying for US citizenship at the earliest possible date.

JAS YouthBuild

 JAS YouthBuild is a comprehensive youth development program providing young men and women who have dropped out of high school with a second chance to earn a high school diploma or HiSET and transition into productive citizenship. Building on two national program models, YouthBuild & AmeriCorps, JAS YouthBuild engages youth in service to their communities by rehabbing affordable housing while simultaneously enabling them to develop academic, vocational, employability, leadership, and life skills and to make a successful transition to employment, training, and/or post-secondary education. Over a one to two year period, rigorous academic instruction is provided in English language arts, math, social studies, and science to prepare for HiSET tests, MCAS tests for diploma students, and future postsecondary education and training. Certificate training and other postsecondary transition supports put graduates on career pathways in building trades, health careers, and other in-demand occupations.


JAS YouthBuild serves approximately 30 out-of-school youth each year, all of whom are ages 17-24, high school dropouts, and low-income, and approximately 30% of whom are young women, as well as approximately 50 formerly-enrolled YouthBuild students and graduates. Many are homeless, parenting, court-involved, learning disabled, and have poor work histories. A number of youth come from immigrant families in which English is not the primary language spoken at home. Many students come to the program viewing it as their “last chance to get their lives together.” These youth typically come from southern tier Metro North communities, including Cambridge and Chelsea, and reflect the ethnic and racial diversity of those communities. In 2017, 18% of youth in the program were black, 68% were Latino/a, 9% were white, and 5% identified as some other race/ethnicity.

Budget  $1,700,000.00
Category  Education, General/Other Dropout Programs
Population Served Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent College Aged (18-26 years) Adolescents Only (13-19 years)
Program Short-Term Success 


  • Provide full-time youth development, academic, and workforce training to 32 actively enrolled program participants
  • Offer at least one year of follow-up and supportive services to an additional 50 formerly enrolled youth
  • 70% of actively enrolled participants will demonstrate learning gains (literacy and/or mathematics)
  • 60% of youth served (actively and formerly enrolled) will attain a high school diploma or HiSET
  • 10% of youth served (actively and formerly enrolled) will go on to post-secondary education/training
  • 60% of actively enrolled participants will attain an industry recognized credential (HBI PACT/OSHA).
  • 70% of youth served (actively and formerly enrolled) will obtain gainful employment
Program Long-Term Success  Previously disenfranchised youth (16 to 24) will attain success, skills, and begin on a path toward a career.  Graduates will be active members of the community having had positive experiences with community service and leadership training.
Program Success Monitored By 

Short-term effectiveness is assessed using the following: standardized tests to measure educational advancements; student/staff progress assessments; tracking of number of students who set short and long term career goals, with postsecondary experiences (PSE) as a part of those goals; number of students who participate in dual enrollment college classes, internships, or other PSE-related activities; attainment of industry-recognized credentials, employment and high school credential; and number of affordable housing units rehabbed. Formal assessments are made on a quarterly basis and provide ongoing feedback for continuous program improvement.

Assessment tools include: TABE, MCAS and Accuplacer test scores; HiSET scores (formerly GED test); Individual Goal-Planning Tool documenting goal setting and achievement of goals; student surveys and feedback; Student Policy Committee feedback; Monthly Housing Production Report; Partner Sign-off sheets; feedback from partners and funders.

Examples of Program Success 

Marilyn joined JAS YouthBuild as a 20 year old single parent, lacking a diploma and job. After years involved with DYS and various education programs, she lacked direction but knew that she wanted a bright future for her child. Recognizing the need for education and a career, she found the support and guidance she was seeking at YouthBuild, and achieved her lifelong goal of a high school diploma 2 years after joining the program. After graduation, she decided on a career helping young people like herself. She is now working towards an AD in Human Service at Bunker Hill Community College and  rejoined YouthBuild as a full-time AmeriCorps member, continuing to give back as a role model for new JAS YouthBuild students.

Real Estate Development

JAS Real Estate Development develops affordable homes for low- to moderate-income families. Our multi-family developments for first-time homebuyers and renters have affordability protection through long term Affordable Housing Agreements with the City of Cambridge and State funders. Our rental properties have deeded income restrictions and our homeownership units are repurchased at a restricted resale prices, preserving long term affordability.

In the design process the JAS Real Estate team collaborates to incorporate many green and sustainable features to help keep operating costs low for new homeowners and rental operations. Two of our more recent developments were awarded Platinum status under the LEED™ for Homes program. Whether new construction, adaptive reuse, or preservation, all our homes get high efficiency boilers with programmable thermostats, high performance energy star windows, low flush toilets, shower heads, and faucets, and Energy Star appliances.

Budget  $550,000.00
Category  Housing, General/Other Affordable Housing
Population Served Unemployed, Underemployed, Dislocated Families Adults
Program Short-Term Success  Approximately 1,800 low- to moderate-income people enjoy housing stability through JAS's affordable housing units. 
Program Long-Term Success 
- Since 1984 JAS has developed 130 affordable homes for purchase, 24 developed in the last 5 years.
- Since 1994 JAS has managed the preservation, rehab and City managed resale of 62 home ownership units secreed by the City's Affordable Housing Agreement, 47 have been secured in the last 5 years.
- Since 1973, JAS has developed and preserved 598 units of rental housing, 51 units in the last five years.
Program Success Monitored By  Number of rental units maintained and occupancy rates of rental properties. 
Examples of Program Success 

As a single mother raising two infants, Deborah had a goal to gain more independence and find a more comfortable living arrangement then living at her mother’s home with a large group of extended family. She wanted her kids to come home to a space they could feel comfortable in; one they could call their own. Due to her son’s disability, Deborah was limited in her ability to find full-time employment and knew she would need some assistance to secure a place of her own. As JAS was completing a new development of apartment homes a few blocks from Central Square, she secured assistance from the Cambridge Housing Authority that enabled her to rent her first apartment in our newly completed development. With a stable affordable home, she has had the ability to do more with her children and become involved in the community. Deborah states: “I feel proud of myself. Just-A-Start has given me the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of life related to personal financing and has prepared me to become a future homeowner."

TeenWork (Youth Program)

Just-A-Start's TeenWork program serves over 200 youth annually, providing year-round support to low-income Cambridge high school youth by offering academic enrichment and career development services to teens who need additional support, paid summer jobs, supplemental summer education, and career services.

Youth can enter the program during the summer or during the school year, working one-on-one using a career counseling approach to discuss their academic and career goals and next steps. Based on their needs, youth receive customized services including help preparing for college or exploring college options; job readiness workshops, where they learn how to apply for a job, develop a resume, interview, and are introduced to work maturity soft skills; and field trips to increase awareness for career and post-secondary education options. During the summer, most participants are also engaged in community service, through beautification and construction projects that benefit public housing residents and the City of Cambridge, as well as internship placements with a variety of partner non-profit organizations.

Budget  $250,000.00
Category  Education, General/Other Afterschool Enrichment
Population Served Adolescents Only (13-19 years) Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent Families
Program Short-Term Success 

To measure success 2018, TeenWork expects to achieve the following specific outputs and outcomes:

1) 90 youth will participate in career readiness activities, which can include developing a career inventory, creating a resume, completing a common job application and a mock interview, conducting a job search, etc.

2) 60 youth will participate in internal or external supported work experience.

3) 50 youth will receive academic enrichment during the summer and/or out-of-school time and money management awareness related to first-time employment.

4) 15 participants will engage in post-secondary education readiness activities and complete a common college application, FAFSA, and common scholarship application.

5) 75 teens will participate in career awareness group activities throughout the school year (job panels, job shadows, field trips to employers or post-secondary education institutions, etc.).

Program Long-Term Success  TeenWork offers a continuum of employment opportunities and academic supports to youth of different skill and experience levels, allowing them to build their resumes from a first early supported work experience and to gain teamwork and leadership skills, learn to find jobs and work with supervisors and coworkers, and identify an education path that will support their career goals. Through improving the career readiness of youth, the program also impacts academic performance by emphasizing the importance of education to future success, and youth community involvement through direct service to the community and local non-profit organizations. Long-term success of TeenWork will result in students reporting higher skill levels in job search tasks/career readiness, communication, leadership, and presentations, as well as higher rates of post-secondary education enrollment.
Program Success Monitored By 

Student services and outcome data are recorded by program staff through case notes, program attendance, and employment activities and outcomes. Staff meet frequently to discuss and evaluate the effectiveness of the program, also discussing student progress with school personnel. Feedback from students, intern hosts, and employer partners is collected on a regular basis to inform program operations and make improvements when necessary. Ongoing follow-up with alumni provides significant feedback as to how TeenWork impacted their success. TeenWork tracks all students for a full year after exiting the program. Students are contacted at least once per month for updates on their school or work experience, with more intensive follow-up when help is needed. TeenWork is also evaluated on an annual basis by the Metro North Regional Employment Board. JAS is currently migrating TeenWork data onto Salesforce to help program staff assess student progress and evaluate bigger-picture programmatic outcome trends and improvements.

Examples of Program Success  Testimonial from a TeenWork participant connected with a work placement at MIT: "Prior to entering college, I wanted to get more experience to prepare myself for a professional working environment. A friend referred me to Just-A-Start TeenWork program and I decided to take advantage of it. TeenWork staff helped me create a diverse network of peers, working towards similar goals. Without communication skills, you really can't go far in the world. TeenWork helped me build on my credentials and market myself professionally. I am so thankful for this opportunity. TeenWork and MIT definitely helped me pave the way for myself and many others."

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

JAS offers a range of housing, resources, and education and career development programs serving low- to moderate-income people from Cambridge and surrounding communities. The five programs listed here are not exhaustive of all of the services we offer. Please visit for more complete information about the organization's program and services. 


CEO/Executive Director Ms Deborah S Ruhe
CEO Term Start July 2013
CEO Email
CEO Experience

Deborah Ruhe has more than 30 years of business and non-profit experience. She has been Executive Director of Just-A-Start Corporation since July of 2013. Prior to joining JAS she was Executive Director of Hosteling International - New England for over ten years. There she oversaw six facilities in Massachusetts and developed new hostels in Hyannis and Boston. The Boston Hostel opened in 2012 and is a world-class 480 bed accommodation winning global recognition and awards for historic preservation, innovation and green design.


Deborah led health care organizations for over twenty years including Health Options in New Hampshire, Fenway Community Health, and the clinical operations of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine. She provided management assistance to family planning providers in Asia and Africa as a Senior Advisor for Management Sciences for Health, based in Cambridge. Deborah was the President of the Board of Directors of Victory Programs, Inc. and has served on the boards of several non-profit organizations and community service initiatives.


Deborah has an MS in Management from Antioch/New England Graduate School and attended the University of Maine and the University of New Hampshire.

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

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
Mr. Gordon Gottsche May 1968 June 2013

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Kathleen A. Carney Director of Resource Development --
Bill Gordon Director of Real Estate Development --
Gina Plata Director of Education and Training --
Kathryn Rosenberg Director of Finance and Administration --
Gerry Zipser Director of Housing Resources --


Award Awarding Organization Year
Cambridge Preservation Award: Bishop Allen Apartments Cambridge Historical Commission 2016
Summer Program Best of the Best Award Office of Workforce Development 2012
LEED BD+C: Homes v3: Platinum - Elm Place US Green Building Council 2011
LEED BD+C: Homes v3: Platinum - 823 Main St. US Green Building Council 2010
Award for Outstanding Non Profit Cambridge Chamber of Commerce 2007
Cambridge Historic Landmark: Immaculate Conception (Lithuanian) Catholic Church Cambridge Historical Commission 1954
State Register of Historic Places: 8 Boardman St. Massachusetts Historical Commission 1915
State Register of Historic Places: 243 Broadway Massachusetts Historical Commission 1910
State Register of Historic Places: 77 Bishop Allen Dr. Massachusetts Historical Commission 1891
State Register of Historic Places: 51 Norfolk St. Massachusetts Historical Commission 1885


Affiliation Year
Associated Grant Makers --
Mass Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC) --
Massachusetts Nonprofit Network --
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association Mass Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC)

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --



CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 41
Number of Part Time Staff 5
Number of Volunteers 25
Number of Contract Staff 2
Staff Retention Rate % --

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 3
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 2
Caucasian: 37
Hispanic/Latino: 5
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 1
Other (if specified): 5
Gender Female: 30
Male: 18
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? No
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 5
Management Succession Plan No
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 --

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. Peter Munkenbeck
Board Chair Company Affiliation Consultant
Board Chair Term June 2015 - June 2018
Board Co-Chair Paul Parravano
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation MIT
Board Co-Chair Term June 2010 - June 2018

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Barbara Aiken Retired from Commonwealth of MA Voting
Tara Dendy Community Cooks Voting
Lisa J. Drapkin Coldwell Banker Voting
Shawn Fitzpatrick Shire Pharmaceuticals Voting
Gustavo Gallego JVS Voting
John Henn Foley Hoag - Retired Voting
Jesse Kanson-Benanav Somerville Community Corporation Voting
Michael R. Kuhn Cambridge Savings Bank Voting
Joel Miranda YouthBuild USA Voting
Peter Munkenbeck Consultant Voting
Paul Parravano MIT Voting
Shane Steffens EF Educational Tours Voting
Susan Stockard Retired Voting
Zoe Weinrobe Recap Real Estate Advisors 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: 0
Caucasian: 12
Hispanic/Latino: 2
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 5
Male: 10
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 80%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 87%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • Executive
  • Finance
  • Program / Program Planning
  • Real Estate
  • Resource Development

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

JAS's Strategic Plan for 2016-2020 identified a need to focus on improving Board governance. JAS is supported by a 15-member volunteer Board of Directors. Year-round, and especially in the 50th anniversary year, the Board works together in a shared leadership capacity to provide governance and strategy to the organization. 


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $21,092,244 $7,368,685 $7,607,923
Total Expenses $6,482,838 $7,185,286 $7,176,843

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$820,302 $854,500 $590,790
Government Contributions $2,203,587 $3,316,822 $3,493,246
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified $2,203,587 $3,316,822 $3,493,246
Individual Contributions -- -- --
Indirect Public Support -- -- --
Earned Revenue $3,174,988 $3,132,301 $3,342,996
Investment Income, Net of Losses $221,829 $64,640 $164,764
Membership Dues -- -- --
Special Events -- -- --
Revenue In-Kind $14,500,000 -- --
Other $171,538 $422 $16,127

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $4,978,132 $5,889,939 $6,476,655
Administration Expense $1,277,791 $1,085,248 $642,385
Fundraising Expense $226,915 $210,099 $57,803
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 3.25 1.03 1.06
Program Expense/Total Expenses 77% 82% 90%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 8% 5% 1%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $25,806,470 $25,836,301 $23,976,969
Current Assets $4,563,410 $5,354,815 $8,334,607
Long-Term Liabilities $19,691,234 $19,525,880 $19,727,403
Current Liabilities $526,551 $793,284 $230,008
Total Net Assets $5,588,685 $5,517,137 $4,019,558

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
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 Yes
Reserve Fund No
How many months does reserve cover? --

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 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 8.67 6.75 36.24

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 76% 76% 82%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above are per the organization's IRS Form 990s.
Please note, the 2014 consolidated audited financial statement posted above reflects an 18 month period ending on 12/31/2014, as the organization changed its fiscal year in 2014 from a July 1 - June 30 fiscal year, to a calendar year Jan. 1 - Dec. 31.


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?

JAS’s priorities are for all people to have affordable, safe housing, sustainable employment, and be engaged in their communities. The programs and services of JAS are designed to allow low- to moderate-income individuals and families achieve these ends in a community with a very high cost of living. Long-term success for JAS’s work is measured by:

1) The number of individuals and families who have a safe, secure home in JAS-owned rental housing, through affordable homeownership opportunities, or in the community through JAS’s housing stabilization or home improvement work.

2) The number of individuals who have obtained the skills needed for employment or to continue their education towards a career that will provide economic stability. Measured through attainment of educational credentials, job placement, job retention, increases in wages, etc.

3) The number of individuals served by JAS who become more involved and invested in the place they live and their neighbors.

Each one of JAS’s programs has its own goals, objectives, and indicators that are monitored and measured to guide the design and adjustment of the service delivery model.

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

JAS provides a continuum of housing and education and training programs and services. Housing is a basic human need, one that is essential for the stability and security needed to allow individuals to thrive, learn, and find gainful employment. Towards this end, JAS provides housing ranging from affordable rental apartments in Cambridge to affordable first-time home ownership opportunities. Housing services for clients and other city residents include mediation to resolve housing-related disputes, guiding homeowners with rehabilitation projects, and financial assistance and case management to prevent homelessness. Long term success of the housing priority is measured by the number of residents housed, the resolution of housing disputes that provide for stabilized residencies, and the residents who are able to stabilize themselves and their families within their homes.

Sustainable careers are the second area of focus for JAS. JAS works to provide underemployed or unemployed adults and disconnected youth to with the education and skills training necessary to be successful in the workforce and achieve upward economic mobility. JAS operates youth programs for Cambridge high school students who need supplemental education and work experience to be successful in and after high school. JAS’s YouthBuild program, designed following the nationally recognized YouthBuild model, allows youth who have dropped out of high school to gain their high school credential and real world work experience through classroom education as well as job-site experience, community service, and leadership training. For adults, the Biomedical Careers Program and the IT Careers Program provide mature students with a free, nine-month, skills-based education and a pathway to entry level jobs in related industries that provide stability and opportunity for advancement.

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

Now in its 50th anniversary year, JAS has delivered its core programs for 20 to 50 years, continually building upon a strong, results-oriented, evidence-based foundation. Program staff include licensed teachers and social workers, experienced project managers, worksite managers with relevant experience in the trades, and attorneys. All JAS programs are community based and are delivered in partnership with numerous organizations including educational institutions, local employers, and public and community agencies. JAS has the long term experience, community relationships, professional staffing, and strategic orientation to deliver its diverse range of programs towards the highest possible impact. 

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

JAS measures the success of its organizational goals by assessing the progress of the individuals who participate in JAS programs and/or reside in JAS’s affordable rental housing. Each program collects extensive client data, which includes information on demographics, family income, and government program enrollment, as well as attendance and assessment data showing their progress throughout program participation. Data on clients is analyzed periodically to measure their progress towards expected outcomes, and JAS uses client feedback as well as program outcomes to continue to shape each program. JAS’s programs are also monitored by government and private funders including the U.S. Department of Labor, the Metro North Regional Employment Board, and the City of Cambridge.

With the development of the Strategic Plan for 2016-2020, JAS affirmed its aspiration to be a data-driven organization. To that end, JAS is adopting a centralized database using Salesforce, which will help to more effectively measure progress, report on outcomes for all of the agency’s programs, and evaluate effectiveness to inform program improvements. In addition to a database facilitating the evaluation of individual programs, it will help identify referral services internally and externally to more effectively serve JAS’s clients. With this new infrastructure in place, JAS hopes to be a truly data-driven organization and engrain a culture of learning in all of the organization’s work.

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

On an ongoing basis, JAS provides affordable rental housing and residential services to approximately 1,500 low- to moderate-income individuals in 19 developments across Cambridge. In 2017, JAS provided mediation, conflict resolution, and homelessness prevention services that helped to keep approximately 1,500 individuals in stable housing. JAS also managed the rehab and resale of 11 affordable units through the City Deed Restricted condo program, and provided financial and/or technical assistance to homeowners to improve 36 units.

In 2017, a diverse group of 18 students participated in our Biomedical Careers Program. Graduates are expected to increase their annual income by about $15,000 the year after graduation, as demonstrated by the findings of an independent evaluation completed by UMass Boston’s Center for Social Policy. Meanwhile, JAS YouthBuild served a total of 56 high risk youth by providing education to complete a high school credential, work experience at affordable housing community service sites, leadership and life skills training, and supportive services. JAS’s Youth Programs at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School provided job readiness, career development services, and supportive employment experiences to a total of 212 young people.

JAS continues to develop new programs to meet the needs of community residents. In 2017, JAS launched its Financial Capability program and piloted these services through a free tax preparation clinic, workshops on credit counseling, health care enrollment, and student debt, and a matched savings program for YouthBuild students. JAS expects to serve 200 individuals with financial capability services in 2018 and is implementing program improvements and expansion based on the outcomes of its pilot year. In January 2018, JAS launched the Information Technology Careers Program, modeled after the Biomedical Careers Program’s 25 years of success. Currently teaching a first cohort of 15 students, the program will train low-to-moderate income adults for sustaining careers in IT user support roles.