Chinatown/South End Collaborative Opens New Pathway to Whole Foods Jobs

January 14, 2015

BOSTON, MA –Chinatown/South End organizations and Whole Foods released hiring results as the new Whole Foods store in the South End opened at the Ink Block development.

The Chinatown/South End Collaborative launched an effort last year to increase local and minority hiring at new retail stores in the neighborhood. Led by the Chinese Progressive Association, the effort included the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Castle Square Tenants Organization, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, Massachusetts Worker Education Roundtable and BEST Corp.  The group worked with City Councilor Ayanna Pressley and the City’s Office of Economic Development to advocate for local hiring goals, ongoing monitoring and reporting, an early notification/First Source agreement, and a multilingual application and interview process.  

In total, 108 new hires were made with 64% living in the City of Boston with 19% living in the Chinatown and South End area.  The new hires are also particularly diverse with 75% of them being people of color. Asian Americans are 26% of new hires.

“What made this a bigger success story than in the past was the First Source agreement with clear monitoring and reporting points, combined with support to help people prepare and go through the application and interview process,” says Lydia Lowe, Executive Director of the Chinese Progressive Association.  “And, of course, there has to be commitment from the top. This partnership with Whole Foods is an example of how an employer coming into the neighborhood can partner with community groups to open up job access for people in the community.” 

Collaboration will continue beyond the opening of the store.  Whole Foods, along with Roche Bros., another supermarket planning to open in February at Downtown Crossing, will partner with community organizations Chinese Progressive Association and Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center to provide a vocational English class and customer service training to Boston residents.  The 14-week class will start at the end of February.  People can apply at the Chinese Progressive Association.

The City of Boston played an important role in having the partnership come together and speaks to the potential city government can play in opening economic opportunities for its residents.  The City of Boston, through the Neighborhood Jobs Trust, is funding the training.  City Councilor Ayanna Pressley facilitated the meeting that formalized the partnership, and the group also received support from the Office of Economic Development. 

The new Whole Foods at the Ink Block development opened Friday, January 9 at 10AM.  Starting wages for workers will be $11/hour.

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