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Expanding education and workforce opportunities for vulnerable Boston youth

Project overview

Youth from disadvantaged backgrounds in the Boston area face many challenges, from unemployment to meeting their own and their families’ basic needs. These challenges can cascade into adulthood, creating a population of disconnected youth.

More Than Words, a job training and youth development program, works with Boston’s most vulnerable young adults to help them gain valuable skills and prepare for college and careers. Each year, the program empowers nearly 350 youth from underserved communities to take care of their lives by operating and running a unique bookselling business. The youth participating in the business learn life-long skills and discover more about their employment capabilities.

How it helps

More Than Words provides structure, accountability, and relationships that allow youth to transform their lives. The organization says its model works “because work works.”

Our mission is to help young people take charge of their lives by learning to take charge of a business.

Jodi Rosenbaum, Founder and CEO

Participants work approximately 20 hours per week in More Than Words’ bookselling business, encouraged by high expectations and a culture of support. They learn customer service, technology, inventory management, and leadership skills while earning a wage. They also have what More Than Words calls a “YOU” job: They attend workshops and receive support to ensure they persist in school and plan for their future work, education, and life.

Participants graduate from bookselling and their YOU job after six to 12 months. They then receive career support in areas like career exploration, college research and applications, FAFSA completion, job searching skills, resume and cover letter writing, and job interviewing skills. Program graduates go on college visits, attend networking events, serve in leadership roles, and receive coaching to reach their education, employment, and self-sufficiency goals.

More Than Words graduates pursue education and secure employment at rates that exceed their peers. Ninety-three percent of More Than Words youth are on track to earn a high school diploma or equivalent, and 83% are currently employed.

Foundation Project Lead