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JP Morgan Chase Foundation donates $200,000 to Just-A-Start

Just-A-Start’s Biomedical Careers Program just got a big boost from one of the world’s leaders in global philanthropy.

The JP Morgan Chase Foundation has given Just-A-Start $200,000 in support of the JAS Biomedical Careers Program.

“This is a significant gift that comes at an important time in the history of our organization,” said JAS Executive Director Deborah Ruhe. “This grant will have a very real, very tangible impact on our biotech program and our students.”

Launched in 1992, the JAS Biomedical Careers Program prepares Cambridge area low-income residents for a career in the biotech industry, supplying local biotech companies such as Shire, Biogen, and Genzyme, with work-ready, diverse employees for entry-level positions. This tuition-free, nine-month program provides college-level instruction in biology, chemistry, medical terminology, and computer and laboratory skills to 30 adults each year, helping them acquire the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the biotechnical, research, and health care industries.

“This program specifically allows adults, who come to us lacking the skills to advance their careers, to enter into a high-paying, high-growth industry with the ability to move up the career ladder after their initial job placement,” Ms. Ruhe said.

The Biomedical Careers Program works to close the skills gap, transform lives, and strengthen the local economy, fitting closely with the priorities of the JPMorgan Chase New Skills at Work initiative, a five-year, $250 million national investment that seeks to build a demand-driven workforce development system with high quality job training opportunities by using data to identify gaps in local labor markets.

JPMorgan Chase Foundation’s support will allow the JAS Biomedical Careers Program to expand its curriculum and increase its reach to biotech, life sciences, and healthcare employers in the Boston/Cambridge area.

Now in its 23rd year, the JAS Biomedical Careers Program has placed more than 400 graduates in professional biotech jobs. The average starting salaries for the most recently placed graduates is $35K annually with benefits and career advancement opportunities.

“This is the type of program where the results are proven, the success is very real,” Ms. Ruhe said.

The grant will enable Just-A-Start to engage new and existing biotech employers with enhanced outreach and expanded service offerings to program participants, and help Just-A-Start prepare more low- to moderate-income adults for family-sustaining careers.

Just-A-Start will also be bringing together industry experts to examine employers’ workforce needs and the void that can be filled by meaningful training like the JAS Biomedical Careers Program. Expanded service offerings will help improve participants’ ability to obtain desirable jobs and sustain them over time.

In 2013, JP Morgan Chase and its Foundation gave more than $210 million to thousands of nonprofit organizations across 42 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and 44 countries around the world. More than 47,000 employees provided 540,000 hours of volunteer service in local communities around the globe.

About the JP Morgan Chase Foundation

JPMorgan Chase works with community partners to create pathways to opportunity by supporting workforce development, financial capability, small business development and community development in the regions where we do business. To learn more, go to

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Peter R. Munkenbeck Elected Chair of Just-A-Start Board of Directors

Just-A-Start has elected Peter R. Munkenbeck of Cambridge as chairman of the non-profit community development corporation’s board of directors. Mr. Munkenbeck, who has been on the board for five years, replaces John Henn, who had served as board chair since 2005.

Peter J. Munkenbeck

Peter J. Munkenbeck

“It is an honor to serve in this role for Just-A-Start at this time in its history,” Mr. Munkenbeck said. “Just-A-Start provides such vital housing and educational services to low and moderate income residents in and around Cambridge; I’m excited to participate in its planned growth in the coming years.”

Mr. Munkenbeck, who graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Public and International Affairs, earned his Juris Doctor cum laude from Harvard Law School, and was admitted to the bar in Massachusetts in 1973.

From 1978-81, he was responsible for the redevelopment of several large waterfront industrial and mixed use parcels while employed at MASSPORT, including the planning, permitting, design, architecture, and construction of a 47-acre site for a marine terminal which involved the construction of a half-mile dike and three million cubic yards of fill purchased in part from the Southwest Corridor reconstruction project.

He spent 16 years at The Community Builders, where he served as Deputy Director for real estate development, administration, and finance. Since 1997, he has been actively involved in the development and/or financing of 30 multifamily and commercial properties containing more than 4000 apartments and extensive commercial space on behalf of 15 community development corporations in Boston.

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