April 6, 2020
Just-A-Start Gets $200K Grant to Aid Biotech Career Program

September 4, 2015 — Just-A-Start, a Cambridge multi-service agency focused on affordable housing, community engagement, workforce development, and educational initiatives, recently announced that it received a $200,000 grant to aid low-income area residents for a career in the biotech industry.

The funding, from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, will support the organization’s Biomedical Careers Program, which provides local biotech companies with work-ready, diverse employees for entry-level positions.

“This is a significant gift that comes at an important time in the history of our organization,” said Deborah Ruhe, executive director of Just-A-Start (JAS). “This grant will have a very real, very tangible impact on our biotech program and our students.”

Launched in 1992, the tuition-free, nine-month program provides college-level instruction in biology, chemistry, medical terminology, and computer and laboratory skills to 30 adults each year, helping them acquire the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the biotechnical, research, and health care industries.

“This program specifically allows adults, who come to us lacking the skills to advance their careers, to enter into a high-paying, high-growth industry with the ability to move up the career ladder after their initial job placement,”. Ruhe said.

The new funding will allow the JAS Biomedical Careers Program to expand its curriculum and increase its reach to biotech, life sciences, and healthcare employers in the Boston/Cambridge area – by engaging new and existing biotech employers with enhanced outreach and expanded service offerings to program participants, and helping JAS prepare more low- to moderate-income adults for family-sustaining careers.

Now in its twenty-third year, the JAS Biomedical Careers Program has placed more than 400 graduates in professional biotech jobs. The average starting annual salary for the most recently placed graduates is $35,000 with benefits and career advancement opportunities.

JAS has been operating as a multi-service agency since 1969.

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