JP’s Apprentice Learning Program Named Nonprofit Excellence Award Finalist

 The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) announced today, Apprentice Learning (AL) of Jamaica Plain, has been selected as a finalist for the 2021 Nonprofit Excellence Award in Innovation. 

 The winners of the Nonprofit Excellence Awards will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony, MNN’s 2021 Nonprofit Excellence Awards: Celebrating Idealism and Achievement presented by Citizens, on Wednesday, June 23 at 10:00 am. 

 “We are excited to recognize Apprentice Learning for their invaluable contributions to the Commonwealth,” said Jim Klocke, CEO of MNN. “We look forward to recognizing them and the other Excellence Award finalists and announcing the six winners on June 23.” 

 The Excellence Award in Innovation recognizes a nonprofit organization that has utilized new models or strategies to solve long standing problems or to adapt to a changing environment.  

AL is a work-based learning center for Boston Public Schools’ (BPS) middle school students. was established in 2012 by Helen Russell in response to the high school dropout rate in Boston and the contributing systemic issues. From one program serving fifteen students, AL now offers three programs in five BPS schools serving over 300 seventh, eighth, rising ninth, and ninth grade students. Programs include one-day career explorations, a workplace apprenticeship, a paid five-week summer internship program for girls, and alumni career services.  

AL’s 2020 enrollment reflected the demographics (44% Black, 48% Latinx, and 8% multiracial) of BPS. Seventy percent were considered low-income and 50% spoke a language other than English. 

 AL is unique in several fundamental ways. Unlike most career education programs that are voluntary and take place after school or during summer, AL is deliberately integrated into the academic school day and is a required course for all middle school students at participating schools. Intentionally embedding the program into the school day cements the link between success in a chosen career and success in school and reinforces the practical need for basic literacy in math and other subjects that can often seem abstract or irrelevant in the context of school. AL has over 130 businesses partners including retail stores, shops, biotech and tech firms and arts organizations. Notably, 90% have participated more than once. 

The Nonprofit Excellence Awards will highlight the work of the nonprofit sector and raise awareness of important causes throughout Massachusetts. The Awards will be presented to one finalist in each of the following six categories: Advocacy, Innovation, Leadership, Small Nonprofit, Young Professional, and new this year, Resilience. 

This year, an independent panel of judges reviewed over 180 nominations for the Nonprofit Excellence Awards. The 29 finalists range from large innovative social enterprises to a small rural family support group and represent different regions of Massachusetts. 

In the weeks leading up to the 2021 Nonprofit Excellence Awards, nonprofits across the state are engaging in a social media campaign with the hashtag #MAkingadifference to raise public awareness of nonprofits’ important contributions to Massachusetts. 

 The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) brings together nonprofits, funders, business leaders, and elected officials to strengthen nonprofits and raise the sector’s voice on critical issues. MNN’s mission is to strengthen the Massachusetts nonprofit sector through advocacy, public awareness, and capacity building. The network has more than 750 nonprofit member organizations and more than 150 business affiliate partners. 

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