FY15 Rapid Response Grants

Rapid Response Grants are used to establish workforce training programs, accelerated degree and certificate programs, and workforce training programs that are responsive to the scheduling needs of working adults. This year's grantees are:


Northern Essex Community College

Northern Essex Community College has been awarded $71,559 for Project Gateway. Building upon the success of the 2014 Rapid Response program, this project addresses the skill development needs in the food manufacturing sector, which represents 53 establishments with an average monthly employment for 2,691 jobs in the Mettimack Valley. The goals of the program are to

In addition, Project Gateway will also train 20 unemployed job seekers who are parents of students in the Lawrence Public Schools. The goal is to create a pipeline of better prepared candidates to fill current and future vacancies, especially those created by promotions that result from the project. These candidates will be able to perform better on the job, move more quickly up the career ladder, and be better prepared for subsequent training opportunities.

Mount Wachusett Community College

Mount Wachusett Community College has been awarded $40,172 for EasyPak Skills Gap. The program will provide training for 25 newly hired and incumbent workers at EasyPak, a minority-owned manufacturer of plastic packaging products and a provider of packaging services in Leominster, Massachusetts. EasyPak is growing and has hired 14 new staff in the last three months. Trainees have some plastics manufacturing experience, but their computer skills necessary to attaining higher level jobs is lacking. In addition, safety training is a priority for new and incumbent workers.

The program includes a range of computer and safety training sessions, and focuses on the needs of English as a Second Language (ESL) students. The population to be be served draws from a metro area with a racial makeup of 84.7% Non-Hispanic White, 2.6% Black or African American, 2.8% Asian, and 8.3% Hispanic. The onsite demographic breakdown of the company is approximately 65 men, 14 women. Of the 79 staff members at EasyPak, approximately half are non-native English speakers.

Bristol Community College

Bristol Community College has been awarded $74,999 for Hospitality Pathways. This program addresses the workforce needs of the Lafrance Hospitality Company to staff a new Hotel & Conference center in Wareham and expand banquet and catering operations in Greater Fall River. 30 students are expected to enroll representing incumbent, displaced, and new workers including returning veterans and other culturally specific populations to accurately reflect the cultural diversity of our community and the needs of its citizens.

In collaboration with community and industry leaders, Bristol Community College is developing an innovative model specifically for Lafrance Hospitality that will also have an overarching impact for the Greater New Bedford & Bristol County Communities. This Pathway will be designed and implemented to effectively meet the current and emerging needs of the Hospitality industry. The industry is listed as one of the fastest growing ‘sectors’ for this region, and is expected to generate upwards of 2000 new jobs over the next 5-10 years.  Nearly 30% of these openings will be the direct result of company growth and/or expansion.


Bristol Community College will also be receiving $74,469 for Medical Assistant Competency Skills Training. This is a core competency-based Medical Assistant training model for credentialed Medical Assistants to meet the emerging workforce training needs of healthcare employers. Employers need certified Medical Assistants in order to enter information in the Electronic Medical Records system as part of the mandates and goals of the National and Massachusetts Health Care Reform.

Working in collaboration with Southcoast Health Systems and Primacare, Bristol Community College will design and pilot an employer driven preparation course for all medical assistants who do not currently hold third party certifications. Current Southcoast Health statistics reveal that only 5 out of over 200 employees working as Medical Assistants hold an industry recognized, third party certification. This statistic challenges Southcoast’s plan to introduce a new EPIC Electronic Health Record System (EHR) in all ambulatory locations. With certified and capable MAs, it will be possible to shift additional tasks to them, which will enable physicians, nurse practitioners, and nurses to spend more time directly engaged with patients.  Practices will run more efficiently, which will ultimately cut costs.  Such redistribution of workload could also improve patient satisfaction and outcomes. 

In addition, Southcoast Health is committed to providing wage increases for all medical assistants who become credentialed.  They are currently restructuring the Medical Assistant role into three tiers, including the entry level office practitioner, the Medical Assistant who holds a certification of completion from a Medical Assisting Program and the Senior Medical Assistant who holds a recognized third party credential including a CMA, RMA, CCMA and NCCT. 

Holyoke Community College

Holyoke Community College will receive $75,000 for their Culinary Workforce training program to help meet the present and rapidly growing demand for culinary staff in Western Massachusetts.

Currently, there are an estimated 486 job openings within 85 employers that are posted for an average of 40 days (Wanted Analytics – Hospitality Occupation Demand Query). The US Department of Labor’s Bureau for Labor Statistics indicates that over 25,000 people are employed across the region in Food Preparation and Serving related occupations. When other entry-level hospitality and customer service occupations are added, this makes it one of the largest employment sectors in the Pioneer Valley.

Displaced and incumbent workers will be placed in entry-level basic skills training, where they will be awarded with certifications and more advanced level training that will offer clear cut pathways for career advancement. The program will be offered in conjunction with Springfield Technical Community College and the Hampdem County Regional Employment Board, and will utilize kitchens and classrooms at Holyoke Community College as well as Dean Technical High School and Putnam Technical High School.

Middlesex Community College

Middlesex Community College will receive $69,163 for Customer Service, Leadership and MS Excel Training for Direct Care and Support Staff. The training will support staff at the D’Youville Life & Wellness Community as they expand their facilities with a 60 unit Supportive Housing/Assisted Living facility. D’Youville now serves over 1,000 seniors annually.

The Health Care and Social Assistance industry added over 12,100 jobs in 2009 and 2010, which led Massachusetts’ broad- based recovery and outpaced national trends. Job growth is likely to continue in this area as the Department of Employment and Training (DETMA) states that this category will also gain the largest number of net new jobs in the future. D’Youville has been at the forefront of the industry’s growth and training will not only stabilize the newly combined workforce but also create the opportunity for upward mobility for its current employees and for them to earn higher salaries.