The event was an opportunity to see and experience elements of social cohesion and economic mobility – two new focus areas for the Foundation. Live performances from local rap star Oompa and two more local bands underscored the importance of arts and culture for building bridges. Information about food security work in Cambridge, food from PAGU and five more local restaurants, and a farmer’s market pointed to food security and its link to economic mobility. An interactive art mural and sports activities for kids highlighted the power of arts, sports, and civic engagement to build community.
Armed with plates of lobster sandwich bites from Puritan & Company, lamb sliders from Diddy Burgers and treats from five more local restaurants, neighbors sat at a long table down the center of Bishop Allen Drive to get to know one another and learn more about our plan.
“Cambridge is a wonderful city, but it’s not wonderful for everyone,” said Geeta Pradhan, our president. “Many aren’t sharing in our city’s prosperity; people are being left behind. As your community foundation — the foundation of and for all of Cambridge — we know we need to change that.”
CCF board member Michael Monestime said the Foundation is seen by many as the heart and soul of Cambridge – and it was about ‘to beat harder and louder’ with this ambitious new plan.
Geeta announced our first step in the plan, a new Food Access and Security Initiative that’s investing more than $1.1 million to strengthen Cambridge’s emergency food system in partnership with local nonprofits and agencies. The grants will help create and amplify a cohesive approach to improve and make changes to the Cambridge emergency food system.
Other strategic initiatives that will be rolled out over the next five years will focus on arts and culture, social innovations, education access and success, housing stability, resident engagement, and economic security. Our vision is a Cambridge where low-income households have increased their financial stability; our students have access to postsecondary opportunities; Cambridge’s arts and culture ecosystem is growing and thriving; and residents are more engaged and better connected to one another.
“What does it mean to be a connected community? What are the things that break down barriers? How can we tackle old problems in new ways? What does your neighbor need to flourish here and reach their full potential? And how can you play a part. This is our story,” said Geeta.
And, we’re so grateful for these local companies’ generous support of our block party: Lead sponsors: Cambridge Trust and Google. Catalyst Sponsors: Gail Roberts, Ed Feijo & Team. Connector Sponsors: Coldwell Banker Cares Foundation, MIT, PNC Bank. Friends Sponsors: Bank of America; Beth Israel Lahey Health Mount Auburn Hospital; CambridgeSide, a New England Development Property; East Cambridge Savings Bank; Hemenway & Barnes LLP; Meta; and Verizon. We also thank our programmatic partners who made the October 14 block party fun and engaging: Central Square Business Improvement District, Starlight Square, PAGU, Cambridge Basketball Lab, Central Square Farmers Market, Community Art Center, Mass Farmers Markets, Popportunity, Cambridge Bike Give Back, CEOC, Food for Free, and Pink Sunday.
We are the local giving platform supporting shared prosperity, social equity and cultural richness, with roots that go a century deep.
Today, the Foundation supports more than 150 local nonprofits annually, conducts research and initiates cross-city conversations, and serves as a collaborative philanthropic partner to donors, nonprofits, businesses, and engaged citizens, helping to address community needs.