Published On: May 11th, 2023

Rise Up photos by Photo courtesy of Liam Louis ElleVignette Biz.

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen and heard a lot about the power of collaboration.

“Collaboration and power sharing are key to creating sustainable change in our communities,” said Geeta Pradhan at the March 28 Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI) Conference.

As keynote, Geeta kicked off a day of discussions among academics, practitioners, data experts and policy folks talking about ways to harness data to solve problems and the current gaps in civic research. She made an analogy that partnerships need to be like a stool with five legs—ensuring that when one or even two legs break, the rest can still bear weight – and sustain the work.

Powerful partnerships were on display again at the launch of Rise Up Cambridge, the nation’s first non-lottery cash assistance program that will support 2,000 families in Cambridge with no-strings-attached payments $500 a month for 18 months. The City of Cambridge, CCF, and CEOC came together to develop the program. City staff, Cambridge nonprofits, and the broader community are helping support its launch by reaching out to prospective participants. The program grew out of Cambridge RISE, a successful pilot led by Mayor Siddiqui under the national umbrella of Mayors For A Guaranteed Income that offered cash assistance to 130 single caregivers and their families with $500/month over 18 months. This work was made possible through the lead support of Harvard and MIT, the Cambridge Community Foundation, the business community, and many generous residents.

Partnerships also produced a new refrigerated truck that will strengthen our shared fight against food insecurity in Cambridge and surrounding communities. Celebrated last week at Food for Free’s distribution center in Somerville, the new truck arrived after more than a year of collaboration between FFF, the state, and the Foundation, thanks to one of our largest grants to date ($252,000) made possible by a Massachusetts CDBG CV (CARES ACT) Food Insecurity Grant – a valued partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The truck will help Food For Free deliver 1.25 million more meals each year to people who need them, in Cambridge, Somerville, and Medford.

As Geeta said at BARI, philanthropy’s role should not be to fill gaps for government. “We should be instigating ideas, innovating, and using research and data to engage community and do what others will not do.”

Through strategic partnerships and bold investments, we have the power to ignite and sustain change for our community. Go, Cambridge!