Tag Archives: Boston

Connecting for Justice in Boston: Thursday Jan 19

12 Jan

Socializing for Justice (sojust.org) is not just Boston’s fastest-growing cross-issue progressive community, they’re also friends of Catchafire.

This organization is the brainchild of local activist, community organizer, and event planner, Robbie Samuels. He believes that the fight for social justice will be more effectively fought if people, representing multiple progressive issues, can get together in a room and connect on their overlapping values.

This Thursday, January 19th from 6-9PM, Socializing for Justice will be hosting it’s largest event of the year, Connecting for Justice, at Lir on Boylston. ”This is a welcoming space where all attendees, diverse by age, race, gender, sexual orientation, newness to Boston, and experience with activism, come together to “put the SOCIAL back in social justice!”

At Connecting for Justice, participants can experience the connecting power of Socializing for Justice for themselves. There will be Action Stations to link attendees with local organizations, “I’m Looking For” and “Ask Me About” tags, a Jobs Board filled with openings from other social change groups and a free Literature Table.

Learn more and RSVP for Connecting for Justice at www.sojust.org.

Unfortunately Catchafire can’t be there this time, but keep your ears open for some exciting events that we’ll be planning in the months ahead.  We look forward to catching up with our Boston friends soon!

Our Boston Founding Members helping children and youth in need

21 Nov

Congratulations and thank you to Boston’s Founding 30 for coming on board with Catchafire, and for making our Boston launch event last Monday the success that it was. Today we conclude a blog series featuring the last four of our Founding 30, who are helping children and young adults in Boston and across the nation to lead safe, happy lives and realize their dreams, whatever their circumstances.

Since its formation in 1986, Youth Villages has been helping emotionally troubled children and their families. Its programs and services have a national reputation as the most effective available. They’re focused on results and employ evidence-based treatment models to fulfill a refined and simple goal: building stronger families.

The organization provides therapy in the least restrictive setting available – the child’s own home. This enables Youth Villages to work closely with families to create permanent solutions. There are about 425,000 children in foster care across the US and every 38 minutes, Youth Villages brings another child into their care. This year alone they’re working with more than 17,000 children and families in 11 states.

Despite Youth Villages’ incredible success rate of 80% (twice the national average), the organization can always use more help. Visit their website to view opportunities to mentor, volunteer, donate, fundraise and attend events.

ROCA focuses on supporting the most disenfranchised young people living the Greater Boston area, including those involved with gangs, school and college dropouts, young parents, refugees and immigrants. By helping them transition into educational and life skills programming and employment, ROCA is helping them to re-engage with society.

Founded in 1988, ROCA has helped more than 25,000 young people to take responsibility for their lives and make meaningful change. ROCA doesn’t simply help young people find future opportunities, it provides them with the skills and motivation they need to proactively and enthusiastically embrace these opportunities, thereby ensuring long-term success. Of the 705 young people engaged with ROCA this year alone, 90% remain actively involved in ROCA’s program.

There are many way for those living in the Greater Boston area and beyond to get involved. Get the ball rolling!

Partners for Youth with Disabilities (PYD) provides youth with positive role models and one-to-one and group mentoring programs, empowering them to achieve their personal, educational and professional goals. They have pioneered a number of nationally recognized, award winning mentoring services.

Mentor Match, PYD’s primary program, provides adult mentors for 40-60 youth every year. Mentors, often disabled themselves, foster close relationships and focus on independent living skills. An array of other programs help troubled youths build skills in self-advocacy, entrepreneurship, career development, socialization, leadership and healthy living, to name a few. The Access to Theatre program, for example, gives youth with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the arts and explore their creative talents.

PYD’s scope is broad, as are their volunteer opportunities. Volunteers are key to the organization’s success and continual growth. Interested in becoming a mentor or simply hosting a “Job Shadow Day”? Contact YPD via their site.

Hubert Eugene Jones, or “Hubie Jones,” has been shaping the social landscape of Boston for over 45 years. In addition to building, rebuilding and leading a number of community organizations across Boston, Jones chaired a task force that effectively spearheaded the enactments of two landmark laws in Massachusetts, the Special Education Law and the Bilingual Education Law. Jones created the taskforce after discovering how 10,000 children were, for a number of reasons, being excluded from the school system. That was back in 1967.

Fast-forward 43 years and he’s on a new mission. Modeled after New York City’s Harlem Children Zone, Jones has formed Higher Ground. Higher Ground will focus its efforts on certain “impact areas”, providing the services needed most and working closely with other social good organizations to increase their effectiveness. Higher Ground is still raising startup capital, but with the extremely determined Hubie Jones behind the project, it’s destined for success.

If you missed our post on the Founding 30, check it out here.

Boston Founding Members who partner with purpose

18 Nov

Social good projects are most effectual when a group of purpose-driven and talented people comes together behind the cause. Indeed, behind almost every social and environmental initiative underway today, nonprofits, government agencies, businesses, and individuals are working together to ensure their success. A number of organizations have come into existence around this simple idea: that we can accomplish so much more when we work together. Three such organizations are Catchafire Boston Founding Members. They’re promoting Boston as a center intellectual excellence, finding talented people for worthy causes and facilitating meaningful partnerships with all sects of society.

Boston World Partnerships (BWP), a nonprofit created by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, is a network of innovators, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and business leaders. This network is managed by the BWP Connectors who disseminate information about Boston’s economic opportunities and resources. The organization’s goal is simple: To raise global awareness for Boston as a center of excellence and a destination of choice for business.

Distinguishing BWP from similar platforms is their focus on building relationships and fostering ideas. BWP has nurtured a culture of mutual benefit by building a community of individuals willing to combine their personal and civic interests. They offer members an array of services geared toward connecting like-minded people with each other and Boston-based opportunities. These include access to fellow members and partner organizations and businesses, networking events and strategy sessions.

Visit the BWP website to learn more about future events, their services and how to become a member.

In 2005, a group of Boston-based nonprofit professionals came together out a shared frustration: the difficulty in finding and recruiting talented individuals for social good. They formed Commongood Careers, a recruitment agency serving the nonprofit sector.

Among their first clients were BELL, College Summit, Jumpstart and Year Up. Today, they’re one of the most experienced nonprofit recruitment agents in the country, operating nationwide and serving over 175 organizations in 26 states. They envision a social good sector where the access to and development of talent is simple and efficient. To make this happen, they’ve set a goal of expanding five-fold over the next five years, to eventually be placing 500 nonprofit professionals every year.

Organizations looking to hire talented, purpose-driven job seekers should visit the Commongood Careers website to get started.

Driven by the belief that social problem solving is best achieved through innovation and investment, Root Cause has been partnering nonprofits, philanthropy, government agencies and businesses around worthy causes since 2003.

Root Cause believes these partnerships can be most effective by helping clients fulfill four key prerequisites:

  • Social innovation –sharing ideas among all stakeholders
  • Information alignment – providing common terminology and data for all stakeholders
  • Public innovation – forming strategic partnerships between government leaders and their counterparts in nonprofits, philanthropy and business
  • Social impact markets – enabling individuals and institutions to provide financial (and other) resources for social good

In addition to the consulting services and research that Root Cause provides its clients (nonprofits, philanthropists, government agencies and businesses), they also host a forum where nonprofits can expand their networks and build capacity.

We’re almost at the end of our Founding 30 blog series. On Monday we will feature our final group – four great social good organizations helping children and young adults.

Promoting arts and culture… and doing good

15 Nov

Boston is home to a number of world-class museums and galleries and a bourgeoning arts and culture scene. Two relatively new social good organizations, ArtVenue and Design Museum Boston, have been created with the purpose of promoting, nurturing and spreading this growing art scene. They’re also two of Catchafire’s Boston Founding Members. Read on to learn more about their work.

Next time you’re in Boston, perhaps in a coffee shop or ice cream parlor, and your eye catches a fine piece of art, chances are it’s by a local artist and for sale – all thanks to ArtVenue. This new Boston startup (founded April 2011) is forging new and meaningful relationships between local artists and venues.

Their goal is not just to help local artists promote and sell their work but to spread art throughout Boston’s communities and strengthen the relationships between artists, venues and art enthusiasts. ArtVenue is making new locations accessible to artists and art more accessible to the public and potential buyers. For an artist, selling their work is more often than not a difficult and intimidating prospect. With ArtVenue facilitating the connection between the artist and venue, arranging shows and the selling art is now a much simpler process. For co-founder Dan Vidal, this is an important aspect of the art business. His enthusiasm for this project was born out of frustration with the difficulty of buying and selling art. ArtVenue is making the business part easy, and they are being recognized for this, having been selected as one of MassChallenge’s $50K Gold Prize Winners.

Are you an artist or do you know of an artist looking to promote his/her work? Perhaps your business would like some original artwork for its walls. If so, visit ArtVenue.com for more info.

Design Museum Boston describes itself as “an innovative nomadic museum at the forefront of design education and promotion.” It’s also a nonprofit organization and entirely volunteer-run. Their mission is to unite the Massachusetts design community around two common goals: (1) to educate the public about the role of design in their lives, and (2) to demonstrate how design provides practical solutions to real world problems.

How are they accomplishing this? Design Museum Boston hosts regular events – both physical and virtual – showcasing the breadth and impact of Massachusetts’s design work. Their exhibitions allow audiences to see the design process from a social, economic, and environmental perspective, from where they can truly appreciate the role of design across the urban landscape and in their daily lives.

In addition to Creative Capital, an ongoing and public exhibit in Boston, Design Museum Boston hosts regular events, including exhibits, lectures, conferences and tours, across the city and at select venues throughout the state. Visit their site to learn more about upcoming events, sign up for their newsletter and discover how you can get involved.

We’ve only scratched the surface of Boston’s social good sector! Tomorrow we dig deeper with our Boston Founding Member series. Tomorrow’s causes: energy and the environment…

Tackling Women’s Issues in Boston and Abroad

14 Nov

Last Friday we proudly announced our Boston Founding Members, the first 30 Boston-based organizations to join Catchafire. Today we’re in the Massachusetts capital to welcome them in person and celebrate their membership. Over the next few days we’ll be sharing their stories in a series of blog posts. Today we’re featuring three of the Founding 30. Covering education, healthcare and gender equality in the US and Africa, these three terrific organizations are tackling women’s issues in their own unique way:

The Science Club for Girls (SCFG) provides educational programs for girls in underrepresented communities. More specifically, these programs focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for K-12th grade girls. All the programs are free and the girls work closely with mentors who foster leadership, and promote tertiary education and careers in science and technology. SCFG was founded in 1994 by two parents concerned about gender equality in STEM-based industries. Today it serves over 1,000 girls in five cities across Eastern Massachusetts and in Pokuase, Ghana.

SCFG was recognized with one of six national MetLife AfterSchool Innovator Awards in 2010 and was a recipient of the Nonprofit of the Year award from the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce in 2009.

Interested in volunteering as a mentor with SCFG? Read more here.

In 2001 Megan White Mukuria, a New England native and Harvard graduate, traveled to Kenya on a one-way ticket. Her mission: to start businesses for street children. She quickly became a global leader in the issue of menstruation management, having witnessed first-hand the impact of this issue on women in Kenyan society. Fast-forward six years to 2006, Megan founded ZanaAfrica, a public charity that promotes African-led innovation in the areas of healthcare, education and the environment to achieve sustainable and replicable solutions to poverty.

ZanaAfrica now has two major programs underway:

    • Sanitary pads: Each month 868,000 Kenyan girls miss 3.5 million school days. The free distribution of environmentally friendly, locally made sanitary pads is helping to keep Kenyan girls in school.
    • Empowerment and EmpowerNet Clubs: With the help of mentors, these clubs help primary and secondary students to make informed decisions about their sexuality and other important life choices. These clubs include a Microfinance-for-University program crafted to help schoolchildren get into and stay in university.

The organization is always looking for future donors and volunteers. Follow the links to see how you can support their cause.

The Komera Project is alleviating poverty in Rwanda by providing girls with secondary education. These girls, who otherwise would not have received an education, are improving their earning potential, their health and their sense of self-worth. With each additional year of school boosting a girl’s potential earnings by as much as 15 – 25%, The Komera Project is also effectively elevating the position of women in a post-genocide Rwanda where they represent 65% of the population.

How did it start? In 2006, Margaret Butler, a primary school teacher, spent the year in a remote Rwandan village. During this time, she hosted a girls-only “fun run.” At the start of the first race, the crowd cheered “Komera” – “be strong and courageous.” Ten of the runners went on to receive scholarships for secondary school and the The Komera Project was founded. Today the organization supports 35 scholars, providing each with tuition and boarding costs, uniforms, health insurance, travel expenses, and the resources they will need to live comfortably and concentrate on their work.

Visit their website to learn about The Komera Project and how you can get involved.

Tomorrow we will feature ArtVenue and Design Museum Boston, two of our Founding 30 promoting arts and culture in Boston.

Meet our Boston Founding Members

11 Nov

Over the past week, we’ve featured profiles of some of our Boston Founding Members and their causes. Today, we’re excited to showcase our final list of organizations coming on board.

This broad group is a testament to the quality and passion of Boston’s social good landscape. Because of the sheer number of amazing organizations who were interested in Founding Membership, we decided to increase our Founding Member Class from 25 to 30 organizations. They represent a diverse spectrum of cause areas and sizes, and we believe our professionals will be truly excited at the opportunity work with these organizations and share in their impact.

Catchafire Boston Founding Members

Year Up

Pine Street Inn

Boston Rising

Greenlight Fund

Boston World Partnerships

City Year

Generation Citizen


Root Cause Social Innovation Forum


Higher Ground

Raising a Reader

Commongood Careers

Environmental Defense Fund

Science Club for Girls

The Boston Harbor Association

Housing Families

Right Question Institute

Youth Villages

Elizabeth Stone House

Partners for Youth with Disabilities

CropCircle Kitchen


Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color


Design Museum Boston



The Komera Project

Calling All Crows

Catchafire is now accepting Boston organizations for Early Adopter Membership. To learn more about membership, visit Catchafire to register your organization and contact dana@catchafire.org

Boston Founding Members innovating on traditional notions of the “Foundation” & “Incubator”

10 Nov
Boston Rising, Greenlight Fund and CropCircle Kitchen fall under the headings of “foundations” and “incubator”, respectively, but each of them is generating impact in a new and innovative way.
Boston Rising is a fund to end the cycle of poverty in Boston by clearing a path for the next Rising Class. Taking a new approach to an old problem, the organization is fairly new in the Boston foundation landscape, but is already generating waves. The Boston Rising team believes that by tapping into the power of local communities, providing access to the right resources and empowering the Rising Class, they can break the cycle of poverty in urban neighborhoods. The organization recently launched the first-of-its-kind resident-led fund, the Grove Hall Trust, to bring choice and control to the residents of a Boston neighborhood.  Grove Hall Trust is funded on two core beliefs: communities know what they need to improve their outcomes, and sustainable impact comes from shared risk and responsibility. Learn more about the groundbreaking work that Boston Rising is doing here and read CEO Tiziana Dearing’s recent article for the Huffington Post.
The Greenlight Fund seeks out innovative, high-performing nonprofits in cities across the country and supports their successful expansion into the local Boston community.  Primarily, these organizations address issues affecting low-income urban children and families in key areas such as education, youth development, workforce development, and health. The Greenlight Fund was conceived to address the obstacles that prevent innovative, high-impact nonprofit models in other cities around the country from spreading. While social entrepreneurs across the US are creating powerful solutions to the many daunting challenges of our time, communities do not hear about innovations in other places that could effectively address the challenges they face. The spread of social innovations is limited because there is no vehicle dedicated to identifying unmet local needs, finding and replicating innovative approaches to meet these needs, and adapting the approaches for success in the local community. Greenlight seeks to achieve this for Boston, and eventually for other cities as well. Another innovative approach Greenlight has adopted to help their members build capacity is to support them for Catchafire membership. This year, Greenlight provided partial sponsorship for two of their members, Raising a Reader and Youth Villages, to join Catchafire as Founding Members.  Read more about their unique approach here.
CropCircle Kitchen is Boston’s only shared use kitchen and culinary business incubator. Founded as a new 501(c)3 non-profit in August 2009,  CropCircle currently supports about 25 culinary entrepreneurs and their fledgling businesses, providing technical support, training, oversight, and mentoring through the early stages of a new food business. Most importantly, CropCircle Kitchen has a deep commitment to sustainability and truly believes in the local food movement and rebuilding the original food economy through an “organic renaissance”. By nurturing entrepreneurs, their mission is to support the local economy and small businesses, a truly unique cause in our class of Founding Members. Read more here.

In tomorrow’s profiles – Boston Founding Members who are behind women’s issues

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