Congratulations to Boston ICAN’s first graduating class!

East Boston high school senior Tutu Moses used to describe herself as “a scared girl who thought I would never have a future.”  Speaking as one of the first Boston Public School students to graduate from the new Boston Institute for Careers and Networking (Boston ICAN) project, she declared, “By doing this program, I was able to gain confidence and believe in myself… I am happy to say that I have definitely transformed from an ‘I CAN’T’ mentality to an ‘I CAN!’”

Moses was among fifteen students at a graduation ceremony hosted by Spaulding Rehabilitation Network on May 25 in Charlestown. The newly designed Boston ICAN project is creating pathways to employment for Boston Public Schools students with disabilities.  The program equips them with skills and introduces them to companies and occupations with opportunities for jobs and/or internships in the Boston area.

The three-month program, led and coordinated by UMass Medical School’s Work Without Limits initiative and the Boston Public Schools Office of Special Education, included a series of seven sessions hosted by State Street, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, PwC, CVS Health, Bunker Hill Community College, Procter & Gamble Gillette and Spaulding Rehab. Students had the opportunity to meet and network with employees and managers, go on company tours, participate in industry briefings, and learn about job opportunities, hiring practices, and desirable skills.  Additional support for the students was provided by Jewish Vocational Services, Triangle, MGH Aspire, Partners for Youth with Disabilities and Jewish Family & Children Service.

The benefits of the ICAN program extended beyond concrete job-readiness skills.  Moses and the other students expressed their gratitude for the confidence and independence they have gained through the opportunity to navigate the Boston public transportation system, and their shift in mentality toward what the future may hold.

Boston ICAN is a pilot project of the B-SET for Career Network, spearheaded by MAC, and including a network of over 50 organizations united by a common mission to develop pathways to employment for Boston Public School youth with disabilities. The 50 organizations include secondary and post-secondary schools, disability service agencies, state and local government, youth service organizations, businesses, organized labor, workforce training organizations, and disability advocates.

For more information on the project, contact:

Boston ICAN: Kathy Muhr, Work Without Limits, at 508-856-3533 or kathy.muhr@umassmed.edu

B-SET for Career Network: Johanne Pino, Massachusetts Advocates for Children, at (617) 357-8431 ext. 3234 or jpino@massadvocates.org

Photo credit: Mark Hunt