Pictured left to right: State Rep. Thomas Walsh, State Rep. Sally Kerans, Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, Undersecretary of Community Development Ashley Stolba, Northeast Arc President and CEO Jo Ann Simons
Northeast Arc has received a $100,000 Social Enterprise Capital Grant through the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development. The agency is one of nine nonprofits throughout the Commonwealth to receive a grant. Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy joined Representative Thomas Walsh and Representative Sally Kerans at Northeast Arc’s Black Box Theater in Peabody on July 20 to make the announcement.
“I was glad to join state and local officials in Peabody to announce the inaugural round of Social Enterprise Capital Grant Program awards to nine impressive and impactful organizations,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “From providing on-the-job skills training for young people to ensuring meaningful job opportunities for individuals facing barriers to employment, this funding will amplify the work of community-based organizations creating economic opportunities for the people of our Commonwealth.”
The Social Enterprise Grant Program supports organizations that employ members of their communities and work to create equity and opportunity through job training, employment, and supportive services. Grant funds will make capital improvements to the ArcWorks Community Art Center, home of Northeast Arc’s art-based social enterprises: The Caning Company, Shine Jewelry, and new pottery and silk-screening product lines that will be marketed under the Shine brand.
“Our administration is pleased to support social enterprises working to provide individuals of all backgrounds with the skills and economic opportunities they need to be successful,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Congratulations to the organizations receiving funding through the inaugural round of our Social Enterprise Capital Grant Program to expand both their reach and impact.”
The grant received by Northeast Arc will fund the purchase of additional equipment to expand the number of underserved people with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities (IDD) and/or autism employed at ArcWorks and to increase the number of product lines. It will both increase the number of people with disabilities Northeast Arc employs at an hourly rate and increase the variety of creative work available.
“Northeast Arc has been operating social enterprises for nearly 60 years,” said Northeast Arc President and CEO Jo Ann Simons. “Social enterprises have allowed people with disabilities and autism to earn a paycheck while refining skills that assist them in finding employment in the community. The capital grant program is allowing us to provide much needed upgrades to our building and provide more opportunities to the people we support.”
The renovations funded through the grant will enable the agency to recruit more artists with disabilities. For example, repairing the wheelchair ramp and putting in new studio flooring will enable the infrastructure to bear more traffic (employees and customers). Additionally, the grant will leverage Cummings Foundation funds targeted to repair a leak connected to the cupola on the roof and complement the sprinkler work recently underwritten by the Foundation.
New studio shelving will help Northeast Arc to organize the work areas more efficiently to create room for additional participants. The new kiln will enable ArcWorks to create a signature pottery line, employing more people to paint and fire bisqueware pottery. A new ventilation booth for staining will enable the Caning Company to add an additional service for customers and a new employment opportunity for underserved individuals with disabilities. Finally, a closet for flammable materials would move forward the launch of a silk-screening line and enable Northeast Arc to pay an hourly wage for production of those products. Additional financial support has been provided by Berkshire Bank. The Bank’s funding will support the purchase of furniture and tools.