Career Start-Up Fund

Once people are stably housed, our Career Start-Up Fund helps connect them to vocational training, employment and educational opportunities so they can achieve independence in our community.

What the Career Start-Up Fund Provides

For many people, rewarding employment is a critical part of stability. So for those who can and desire to work, we partner with the Serving Ourselves (SOS) Vocational Training Program and Career Center – at the Southampton and Woods Mullen Shelters – to help newly housed people gain marketable job skills and work experience, and get connected to gainful employment, education, mentoring, and training opportunities as permanent pathways out of homelessness.

Graduates of these programs are highly motivated and equipped with job skills, life skills, and work experience. But they still face some initial barriers to a transition to employment and independence that are often cost-prohibitive for newly housed people.

Our Career Start-Up Fund helps people get started on the right foot and pursue their career goals by covering:

  • One-time course and exam fees
  • Professional certifications and licensing fees
  • New work-appropriate clothing and fresh haircuts
  • Driver’s licenses/MA IDs required to secure new jobs
  • Day planners and commuter backpacks
  • One-month MBTA passes to cover transportation until people receive their first paycheck


I’ve got a little studio, my own place, and I’ve got my trade back. Friends helped me with that. My life wouldn’t be where it is today, so I would like to say — from the bottom of my heart — thank you.”


Futures Transformed

The people our Career Start-up Fund helped have become EMTs and Certified Nursing Assistants, restaurant managers and sous chefs, phlebotomists and pharmacy techs, construction safety managers and steam firemen, recovery coaches and counselors, to name a few.

Johanne and Michael are just two great examples of our Career Start-Up Fund in action.

Michael became homeless at 18 after his mother passed away. In 2017, he completed the Serving Ourselves Food Service/Culinary Arts Vocational Training Program, received his high school diploma, and discovered his dream to become a chef through the program. Our Career Start-Up Fund covered his ServSafe Manager’s exam and certification fees. Since then, Michael graduated from an advanced culinary arts program at the New England Center for Arts & Technology and is working in the kitchen of a high-end restaurant in Boston.

Johanne struggled for years on the streets and in shelters. But once at our Valentine Women’s Supportive Housing Program, she was finally able to rebuild her life. She became the House Manager at Valentine and enrolled in Cosmetology School. Our Career Start-Up Fund covered her cosmetology exam fee and license to get her career as a barber started. Today she has a great job at a salon in the South End and is living in her own home nearby. She also reunited with her children and family, and her dad helped her purchase her barber tools for her new job.

Programs We Partner With

The Serving Ourselves (SOS) Vocational Training Program and Career Center, at Southampton and Woods Mullen Shelters, enable people experiencing homelessness gain stability and build the skills and confidence necessary to become self-sufficient.

Serving Ourselves addresses barriers to success people experiencing homelessness face by combining paid vocational training and work experience with comprehensive social services, including case management, health and mental health care, and addictions counseling. SOS teaches valuable job-readiness skills in marketable trades that pay a living wage. While in SOS, participants earn minimum wage, receive health benefits, and participate in an intensive 16-week course at the Career Center.

The Career Center assists people in defining and achieving their career and educational goals, and prepares and connects them to employment, training, and educational opportunities in the community. Occupational counseling, career development, and a supervised job search are integral parts of the program.

Contact Us

For details about eligibility or application information for the Serving Ourselves Vocational Training Program and Career Center, visit the Boston Public Health Commission’s page on Job Training and Education.

If you are interested in volunteering or hiring program graduates, please contact Mariann Bucina Roca at (617) 942-8671 or email

Thank you for motivating and supporting me. I emerged from a nightmare and am now pursuing my dream.”

We care about our friends

Help us continue to serve our community.