2017-01-12T18:53:57+00:00

Central Square Theater (CST) was created with a unique collaborative culture and is dedicated to experimentation and innovation on stage – with their artistic vision and in their audience-building initiatives.  As a result, it has afforded opportunities for Cambridge residents to participate in ground-breaking programs such as the Young Leaders, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Institute.  It is also a founding member of the Massachusetts task force on creating Cultural Districts.

Two of CST’s exemplary programs are:

Community Connectivity (C2) is an audience development effort that connects the stories on the stage with stories in our communities. CST’s long-term goal for building audiences is to increase the diversity of their audiences not only for singular productions that may have a culturally specific theme or target audience, but also for all of CST’s work throughout the season.

Youth Underground is a socio-economic, culturally, and ethnically diverse youth Ensemble serving ages 13-25.  Participating youth have stipend-eligible opportunities to create theater together and in tandem with community-based organizations; and to showcase their work across the City and at CST. Youth Underground provides a platform for members to understand the perspective of others, develop their own perspectives, and come to a deeper understanding of self as they cultivate their artistry. Above all, Youth Underground members define themselves as agents of change and emerging opinion leaders within their immediate neighborhood and beyond. As an alumni noted, I love to see the world through different perspectives … helps you become more open minded.”

2017-01-19T14:24:07+00:00

CASPAR (Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Rehabilitation) is a community-based human services organization founded in 1970, with the goal of providing prevention, intervention, and treatment for individuals and families whose lives have been affected by alcoholism and drug use. Dedicated to underserved populations, including individuals who are indigent and homeless, CASPAR’s vision is to reduce the harm associated with substance abuse and contribute to a healthier community.

To achieve this vision CASPAR has developed a comprehensive array of addiction services with integrated mental health and homeless services, including homeless outreach programs, an emergency shelter, addiction stabilization programs, and specialized residential recovery homes for both men and women.

Dan’s story (not his real name), as told by their FirstStep Night team leader illustrates CASPAR’s important work:

While doing outreach in Central Square on a September night, FirstStep staff walked up to Dan. He was laying down on the bench behind the library. They noted that his breathing was very slow and his skin color was light blue. They immediately called 911 for an ambulance and administered Narcan to address the overdose. Staff had to give two doses of Narcan to get a response. After the second dose of Narcan, Dan’s color started coming back and his breathing improved, but he was still non-responsive. FirstStep staff stayed with him administering First Aid until the ambulance arrived. Dan was brought to the hospital and he survived. Later, Dan informed staff that he had overdosed on pills and heroin intentionally, wanting to die. Now Dan always thanks FirstStep for stopping that evening and helping him. He says he knows that he would not still be here today if they had just kept walking.

2016-11-03T17:27:27+00:00

Civic leadership generates a head of STEAM

The Cambridge Community Foundation stepped into the civic leadership space this year by working with a set of partners to create a forum to increase opportunity for Cambridge students and job seekers of all ages.

What drove the work was a shared sense just how important the innovation economy is to those who live and work in the city. After all:

  • Almost 40 percent of the state’s workforce is employed in the innovation sector, far more than any other state.
  • Wages in the innovation sector are typically much higher than average wages, one reason for the robust economy in Massachusetts.
  • Massachusetts itself was ranked the top innovation hub in the country by Bloomberg News earlier this year.

In turn the innovation economy is driven by trained talent. In particular, by workers who can combine the technical smarts often gathered under the rubric STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math with the creative thinking derived from the Arts. Put that together and the goal is STEAM.

That was the focus of a forum held in Kendall Square by the Foundation with partners including The Agenda for Children, an out-of-school-time initiative serving schools and families in Cambridge; Just-A-Start Corporation, which works to build housing security and economic stability; the Kendall Square Association, which represents a neighborhood that serves as a global hub of innovation; the Metro North Regional Employment Board, which strengthens the regional workforce by giving residents critical skills; and SkillWorks, a regional partnership that creates pathways out of poverty by building access to family-sustaining jobs.

A long list of leading corporations in the area joined in support, including Biogen, Cambridge Innovation Center, Google, JP Morgan Chase Inc., Microsoft and Novartis among many others.

Then forum drew a packed house and is the start of an ongoing effort to keep the need to create pathways into the innovation economy for Cambridge students and residents seeking greater opportunity. Further events and an inclusive conversation will build on the enthusiasm already sparked.

2016-12-08T19:14:00+00:00

Creativity Commons is a bold strategy that integrates science and art in Cambridge public schools.  The goal is a rich curriculum known as STEAM – for Science Technology Engineering Art Mathematics .The program works to prepare local students in grades 4 to 8 with the skills and insights that will prepare them for opportunities in the local innovation economy. It also serves out-of-school programs.

Developed and managed by Lesley University, Creativity Commons has been championed by the Foundation since it was launched in the school year of 2011-2012. In the course of a single year, as many as 400 students in Cambridge s

Creativity Commons is a bold strategy that integrates science and art in Cambridge public schools.  The goal is a rich curriculum known as STEAM – for Science Technology Engineering Art Mathematics .The program works to prepare local students in grades 4 to 8 with the skills and insights that will prepare them for opportunities in the local innovation economy. It also serves out-of-school programs.

Developed and managed by Lesley University, Creativity Commons has been championed by the Foundation since it was launched in the school year of 2011-2012. In the course of a single year, as many as 400 students in Cambridge schools benefit from Creativity Commons, which

The heart of the initiative it work undertaken with Cambridge teachers and school administrators, directed by seasoned artist-teachers from Lesley. Both students and teachers master critical 21st century skills through immersion and the chance to embrace core science concepts while receiving hands-on experience in art and related technologies.

Creativity Commons also builds connections among Cambridge schools and major city institutions and programs – such as MIT, the Agenda For Children, the Cambridge Science Festival and the Cambridge Arts Council’s River Festival.

The program is rigorously evaluated by Lesley University every year, tracking student knowledge, evidence of collaboration and creativity, and a close review of the experience from the perspective of Cambridge teachers.

chools benefit from Creativity Commons, which

The heart of the initiative it work undertaken with Cambridge teachers and school administrators, directed by seasoned artist-teachers from Lesley. Both students and teachers master critical 21st century skills through immersion and the chance to embrace core science concepts while receiving hands-on experience in art and related technologies.

Creativity Commons also builds connections among Cambridge schools and major city institutions and programs – such as MIT, the Agenda For Children, the Cambridge Science Festival and the Cambridge Arts Council’s River Festival.

The program is rigorously evaluated by Lesley University every year, tracking student knowledge, evidence of collaboration and creativity, and a close review of the experience from the perspective of Cambridge teachers.

2016-12-08T17:31:33+00:00

The Family Independence Initiative – better known as FII – is establishing a remarkable record of success for low-income families across the country. Thousands have used its strategies and principles to make a measurable difference in their lives.

A program rooted in  respect for the vision, resources and capacities of the people it serves, FII creates networks of friends and family members in small groups, typically six to eight families. Each group commits to meet once a month. They share progress made on goals, which typically start as specific as: I need a new car. I want a better job. My son needs a different school.

And they journal about their experiences. What they aspire to, how they are working toward their goals and how they have achieved (or fallen short). The national organization turns that journaling input into a database that charts individual and collective progress. And the numbers are impressive.

  • The median FII household income climbs above the poverty line on average in just six months in the program.
  • The percentage of families giving help to one another steadily rises with participation – to more than 60 percent in the first year alone.
  • And then there is the anecdotal evidence, of people finding that better job, bigger home to accommodate their family, the certificates and degrees that open doors to greater economic opportunity.

The program originated in California and came to Boston in 2010. Today FII includes more than 800 members in Boston. In Cambridge, thanks to the generosity of a local donor and Foundation resources, the Cambridge program enrolls 100 members by the end of 2016.  And after that? The sky’s the limit.