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On Friday, March 3, Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, and their cabinet secretaries convened on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Lowell for their weekly cabinet meeting. In addition to the cabinet meeting, they attended several events and meetings throughout the Merrimack Valley to showcase initiatives, announce grants, and gather feedback as part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s commitment to making every region of Massachusetts great.

Thirty-two schools receive funding to purchase vocational technical equipment and expand skills training programs

Joined by his Workforce Skills Cabinet, Governor Charlie Baker visited Greater Lowell Technical High School to announce the latest round of grants to purchase vocational technical equipment and expand skills training programs for careers in growing industries.

“These investments have a major impact for the educational institutions training our workforce and the students who stand to benefit from enhanced skills and career paths,” said Governor Charlie Baker as he announced Workforce Skills Capital grants totaling $11.8 million to 32 vocational schools, community colleges, and traditional public high schools. Twenty are first-time recipients.

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Under the Governor’s leadership, Education Secretary Jim Peyser, Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald Walker, II, and Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash established the Workforce Skills Capital Grant Program to assist educational institutions in aligning curriculum and credentials with local businesses’ demand. To date, the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded more than $24 million in Workforce Skills Capital Grants to 63 different institutions, improving programs that impact more than 7,100 students per year.

“These grants will undoubtedly impact our future success and our economies,” Greater Lowell Tech Superintendent-Director Roger Bourgeois told the Lowell Sun. “We’re so fortunate to have a governor who’s working to close the skills gap.”

Greater Lowell Technical received $466,000 to create an Agile Digital Fabrication/Maker Space where high school and adult education students will engage in technological experimentation, hardware development, and idea prototyping. Middlesex Community College in Lowell and Bedford, as well as Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, were among the community colleges in the area receiving grants.

“This will continue to help us provide a first-class education, and help our students prepare for a 21st century economy,” MCC President James Mabry told the Lowell Sun.

Three towns earn Green Communities designation, funds to support clean energy projects

In a ceremony at North Andover Town Hall, Lt. Governor Polito announced nearly $500,000 in Green Communities designation grants to North Andover, Rockport and Salisbury to fund clean energy projects. Secretary for Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton and Department of Energy Resources Commissioner Judith Judson were on hand as the grant awards were presented to local officials from the three towns.

“Our municipal partners continue to help us lead the way on renewable energy by adopting practices that allow them to reduce energy consumption, while saving money that can be directed to vital municipal functions, like public safety and education,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.

In February, thirty Massachusetts cities and towns were designated by the Department of Energy Resources (DOER) as Green Communities, committing to an ambitious renewable energy agenda to reduce energy consumption and emissions. Over half of the Commonwealth’s municipalities have earned their Green Communities designation and 64 percent of residents live in a Green Community. Since the program began in 2010, DOER’s Green Communities division has awarded over $65 million in grant funding to the Commonwealth’s cities and towns through designation and competitive grant rounds.

Megan’s House receives contract to support residential substance use disorder treatment for women

In a particularly moving moment during the cabinet meeting, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito announced that Megan’s House of Lowell would be awarded a contract from the administration to support and expand residential substance use disorder treatment for women in Massachusetts.

“Going forward, it will mean that the program is 80 percent funded with state grant money, so we can allocate additional resources to providing success services,” Tim Grover, the founder and president of the Megan House Foundation, told the Lowell Sun. Grover opened Megan’s House, which serves the needs of young women aged 18-25, in honor of his daughter, who died of an opioid overdose in 2015.

John Ashford Link House/Seacoast Recovery Home for Women in Salisbury and The Brien Center/Seymour House in Pittsfield were also awarded contracts. The contracts will fund 60 long-term, residential treatment slots that when operational will provide services to approximately 240 women each year.

Residential treatment programs provide a highly structured and supportive environment to assist each resident’s recovery from substance use disorders. Programs include individual and group counseling, comprehensive case management and assistance with skills necessary to maintain a drug or alcohol-free lifestyle.

Since coming into office in 2015, the Baker-Polito Administration has increased spending on addiction services by 50 percent, from $120 million to $180 million, and has added more than 500 substance use treatment beds to the system.

Other highlights from the Merrimack Valley Cabinet Day:

  • Lt. Governor Polito joined Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack and Lowell Mayor Edward Kennedy on a walking tour of a Complete Streets Program infrastructure project location which was recently awarded $400,000 by the Baker-Polito Administration.
  • Education Secretary James Peyser, Lowell Public School Superintendent Salah E. Khelfaoui, and Middlesex Community College President James Mabry held a STEM@Work roundtable.
  • Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash joined Sen. Eileen Donoghue for a roundtable discussion with local business owners.
    With March being National Social Work Month, Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, herself a former social worker, visited with staff at the Lowell DCF Area Office.
  • Secretary Ash and Secretary Walker visited UTEC.
  • Administration and Finance Secretary Kristen Lepore and Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Chrystal Kornegay visited House of Hope Shelter.
  • Public Safety and Security Secretary Dan Bennett met with Lowell Police Superintendent William Taylor, as well as local public safety officials to discuss the Tewksbury/Dracut Regional 911 Project.

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