Who We Are

Our Mission, Vision, and History

Creating pathways to possibilities since 1968

We’re results-focused.
We’re dedicated to our communities.
We approach our work with compassion.
We’re creative problem solvers.
We believe in the power of partnerships.

Our Mission and Commitment

Our mission is to promote equity by creating access to stable housing and building pathways to economic opportunity.

Our vision is an equitable community where everyone can secure a solid economic foundation.

We believe that access to stable housing and sustainable careers are the essential building blocks of equitable communities. For more than 50 years, we’ve focused on meeting the fundamental needs of individuals and families who have been systemically denied opportunities to realize their full potential.

Our programs include affordable housing, education and job training, and comprehensive support services, spanning Cambridge and beyond. We have developed and currently maintain 600 affordable apartments, and we offer financial and technical support to help local families to stabilize their housing. We also prepare individuals of all ages and circumstances with the skills and knowledge they need to secure fulfilling careers, leveraging their talents to achieve economic mobility and strengthen the region’s workforce.

Our History

Just A Start was founded in 1968 by Gordon Gottsche as a youth training and community revitalization program in Cambridge’s Welligton-Harrington neighborhood.

1968
Just A Start begins by providing summer jobs and learning experiences for teens.
1975
The Home Improvement Program is developed to stabilize owner-occupied housing and provide technical and financial assistance to homeowners seeking to complete repairs.
1975
The Real Estate and Housing departments begin to develop and create affordable rental housing, beginning at Linwood Court.
1982
TeenWork is created to help teens find jobs and internships both after school and in the summer.
1986
Mediation is added to Just A Start’s services to help stabilize housing by offering conflict resolution services both in and out of court.
1992
The Biomedical Careers Program launches to help underemployed adults enter sustaining careers in Cambridge’s growing life sciences industry.
1993
YouthBuild evolves from youth work-training to support out-of-school youth in earning their high school credential and developing work, life, and leadership skills.
2015
Just A Start is awarded tax credits through the Commonwealth’s Community Investment Tax Credit (CITC) program for the first time, allowing us to leverage the benefits of the program to deepen the community impact of our services.
2016
The Financial Opportunity Program is developed to provide no-cost financial education, coaching, and tax preparation to community members.
2017
Just A Start completes a full-scale renovation of our largest residential building, 402 Rindge Avenue, refurbishing all 273 apartments, making improvements to all the shared spaces, and adding community amenities.
2018
The Information Technology (IT) Careers Program is created and implemented, following in the model of the Biomedical Careers Program, to provide even more adults with opportunities to enter sustaining careers.
2020
Families Moving Forward, a three-year mentoring and matched savings program, is launched to help families reach their goals in health, housing, finances, education, and work.