Bay Cove Academy


Program Summary: Bay Cove Academy (BCA) is a psychoeducational program that serves an urban adolescent population (ages 13 to 21) from the greater Boston area with severe emotional, behavioral, and learning disabilities. The Career Development Program (CDP) is a component of BCA. It provides students with classroom and real-world employment skills training and community job placement, supported by job employment training specialists. CDP also helps students research and explore post-school career options. Under CDP, the job placement and career development is highly individualized, and appropriate job matching is emphasized for successful placement.

The mission of this program is to stabilize students, help them earn their high school diploma, and prepare them for a future as productive workers. Following is a chart of characteristics of program participants. Outreach to and recruitment of youth are made possible through partnerships with public school personnel, advocates, the Department of Social Service, the Department of Mental Health, and the court system caseworkers, all of whom work closely with at-risk youth.

Program Structure/Design: CDP provides classroom and real-world employment skills training and community job development, as well as age-appropriate life skills, academic remediation, and the development of problem solving and reasoning skills for inner city adolescents, many of whom have few resources. Students are exposed to real work through on-campus or community-based job placements, which are brought into the classroom curricula. Students enroll in workforce entry skills courses and independent living skills courses to learn interviewing, resume writing, and other transition skills. Skills learned in the classroom are transferred to the job and skills learned on the job are reinforced in the classroom.

States of Operation: MA

Youth Targeted:
• In-school youth
• Youth with disabilities
• Youth offenders
• Urban youth
• Minority youth

Youth Characteristics:

Low income 95%
Learning disabled 90%
Emotional or behavioral issues 100%
Department of Social Service involvement 40%
Court involvement 40%
Department of Mental Health involvement 30%

Profile Year:


School-Based Preparatory Experiences: Students’ real work experiences are brought into the classroom to be utilized in the curriculum. Information that staff members obtain at student job sites is brought back to the school, where weaker skills are strengthened through the curriculum. Contextual work experiences teach basic skills such as math and English. Examples of process skills taught include teamwork, negotiation strategies, conflict resolution techniques, and general interpersonal skills. There is an emphasis placed on process skills as a way to enhance academic rigor. Students are able to integrate soft skills and hard skills learned on the job into the classroom.

Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning Experiences: The goal of CDP is to provide career exploration opportunities and to teach students work habits and attitudes necessary to succeed in the workplace. CDP does this through a five-phase model called the Developmental Phases of Employment. The first three phases provide work preparation experience. This training provides work-based learning opportunities in workforce entry, career exploration, and independent living skills. In CDP, career exploration is integrated into academic classes. Students participate in job shadowing and career field trips, and they attend college fairs and career days annually. Juniors and seniors have the opportunity to participate in dual enrollment programs to expose them to postsecondary options. Students receive individual career counseling and career development opportunities to help them plan their own career exploration activities to meet their interests and abilities. They demonstrate work-readiness skills when they obtain and maintain employment. By learning transferable skills at job sites and after-school programs, students can demonstrate readiness for more advanced work-based experiences.

During CDP’s Developmental Phases of Employment, students are required to maintain two job or internship positions ranging from four to six months each. In a later phase, they must maintain competitive employment or a career-based internship for at least six months. Students are employed at local hospitals, animal hospitals, offices, automotive job sites, museums, bicycles shops, television stations, radio stations, golf courses, and retail stores, among other locations. Some students are hired to work full-time following their internships. When students demonstrate readiness to transition permanently, CDP works with them to find positions ranging from college and technical schools to full-time employment or supportive employment with assistance from appropriate agencies. While students are in employment situations, both in school and post-school, CDP staff members use weekly telephone check-ins, monthly employer evaluations, and site visits to ensure employer and student satisfaction.
Youth Development and Leadership:

CDP provides a supportive and challenging environment in which students feel confident to set high goals and achieve them. Ongoing leadership opportunities exist both at school and at employment sites. For example, many students receive leadership training and have leadership positions in activities such as teen ambassadors, peer counselors in training, teen interpreters, coaching, performing arts, and visual arts. The individualized nature of the CDP allows students to have an active voice in their employment direction. In addition to the above opportunities, students formally evaluate themselves at jobs, and their feedback regarding their employment site is regularly solicited. During the educational component of the program, numerous courses provide leadership opportunities such as participation in community service learning projects. Students also participate in the student council, run joint student-staff meetings, participate in mediation opportunities, and demonstrate leadership skills by raising funds for class trips and by presenting senior projects.

Connecting Activities: Students are referred to social service agencies for any specialized services that they may require; referrals may be to therapists, substance abuse counselors, and other therapeutic service providers. Programs are developed and customized based on students’ specific interests and goals. There is a heavy emphasis on the arts; the following programs, among others, offer students the opportunity to explore and develop their interests: Artists for Humanities helps artistically talented youth develop their skills; the Wang Center helps students gain entry into after-school performance arts programs; and the Computer Club at the Museum of Science lets students explore software and develop advanced skills. Students interested in pursuing postsecondary education are also offered specially customized programs to help them match their interests to the right institution; they also practice skills that will help them during the application phase.

While at school, students receive individual career counseling to help them set up non-school-based and ongoing supports upon graduation. Before graduation, monthly transitional planning meetings are held for all students who are exiting BCA. In addition to work preparation, these meetings encourage college preparation activities and post-graduation referral to adult service agencies. The CDP provides formal and informal support to students on an as-needed basis. Students are referred to outside agencies for support services upon their transition. Students leave the program with a structured plan with long- and short-term goals. A team of therapists, teachers, career development counselors, and administrators meets frequently to assess these transition plans. Students have part- and full-time employment, postsecondary education and training programs, housing plans, and ideas for community recreation and other available resources, such as counseling or independent living skills training.


Staff Development: Staff members receive weekly individual supervision and are evaluated on a yearly basis to determine their strengths, weaknesses, and future goals. Weekly meetings are also a forum for feedback. Staff members also provide written feedback, which is reviewed during an annual administrative retreat. Yearly individual goals are established and steps for achieving them are pursued. At the start of each year, a monthly in-service plan is developed based on staff interests and program needs. In addition, at the start of each school year, staff members are oriented to the philosophy and goals of the CDP. Staff is provided with opportunities to attend workshops, continuing education programs, and advanced degree programs. During the summer months when students are mostly at job sites, all staff members act for some portion of the day as employment training counselors.

Collaboration: CDP works closely with community employers, human service agencies, state organizations, and continuing education facilities. Relationships have been developed in both the business and non-profit sectors to make the program’s job opportunities as broad as possible. CDP maintains relationships with over 70 employers. Employers who hire CDP students are invested in working with young people.

Bay Cove maintains a variety of professional connections and links with social and support service agencies including the Departments of Social and Youth Services, the Massachusetts Association of Approved Private Schools, PEPNet, and the National Youth Employment Coalition. In addition, students are dual-enrolled at Bunker Hill Community College, Massachusetts College of Art, and Roxbury Community College.


Data: Project participants achieved the following outcomes during the period from September 1, 2003 through June 1, 2004.

Outcomes Achieved
Pass CDP courses (measured through report cards) 92%
Move to increasing levels of independence and self-sufficiency (measured by completion of developmental phases of employment) 91%
Maintain same job for at least three months (measured through attendance records) 82%
Maintain continuous employment at same job for at least six months (measured through attendance records) 82%
Employer satisfaction with CDP (measured by Employer Survey) 94%
Graduates employed, in school, or both (full time), six to 12 months after leaving BCA (measured by phone or written interviews with students) 83%

Third-Party Documentation:
Bay Cove is one of ten organizations selected nationally as a 2001 PEP Net (Promising & Effective Practices Network).

Organization Name: Bay Cove Academy
Organization Director: Judy Gelfand
Program Name: Career Development Program
Street Address: 156 Lawton St
City: Brookline
State: MA

Contact Person: Kathleen Pignone
Contact E-mail: