SCES augmenting cultural meals and training through Somerville ARPA grants

A pair of grants will help Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) expand cultural events and strengthen hybrid workplace training.

The projects are funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grants through the City of Somerville. The funding will help SCES meet key DEI and employee-retention goals, said agency Director of Operations & Community Support Colleen Morrissey.

“The purpose of ARPA grants is helping communities recover from long-term impacts of the COVID pandemic,” said Morrisey. “By providing this funding, the City of Somerville is helping us build stronger connections with historically underserved communities that were disproportionately impacted by COVID. It will also help us revisit training for the hybrid workplace we adopted during the pandemic, which will benefit employee retention and ultimately the people we serve. We are immensely grateful for this generous support.”

The specific grants are as follows:

Multicultural Meals and Arts Program for Older Adults in Somerville ($63, 979.90) SCES will partner with local restaurants and caterers to provide diverse meals at the Somerville Council on Aging on Tuesdays and Thursdays from July 6, 2023 through June 27, 2024.

Cuisines will be Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, and Haitian. This will also benefit Somerville businesses, who are still recovering from pandemic financial losses. Culturally diverse entertainment will also be scheduled once per month at the senior center.

In addition to supporting food security, the meal events reduce isolation, which is another major challenge exacerbated by the pandemic.

Training and Workforce Development Program ($150,226.10) This will strengthen onboarding and training, and proactively support career advancement and professional development.

SCES transitioned to a hybrid workplace during COVID, which reduced in-person supervision and prompted the agency to rethink training. Further, the recent worker shortage highlighted the need to prioritize employee retention through support and professional development.

The grant is funding a full-time internal staff trainer, professional development offerings, and a training space.

SCES was one of 35 local nonprofits that received funding through the Somerville ARPA grants. In announcing the $10 million of funding, Mayor Katjana Ballantyne said the goals were to help strengthen and grow local organizations and programming.

“Building a city that supports progress for all doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It takes thoughtful and collaborative partnerships with our nonprofit community,” said Mayor Ballantyne. “Whether their focus is food accessibility, healthcare, career development, or cultural growth, these organizations are out in Somerville every day, tirelessly assisting our residents. Their commitment and dedication have made a tremendous impact in our community, and with these funds, we are demonstrating our unwavering support for their continued efforts.”

The ARPA funding allowed nonprofits to individually determine what was most needed in order to best serve community members. As a result, the $10 million will support both specific new projects and general capacity building for the Somerville nonprofit community. Awarded projects address the funding priorities identified in the community engagement process including:

  • Housing
  • Youth Services
  • Economic Development
  • Infrastructure Improvements
  • Community Programming