Collaborate Boston is an incentive-driven competition that elevates and supports the collaborative efforts that the Boston Foundation believes are critical to the growth of thriving people and vibrant places in our community.
Launched in 2013, the program poses a new question or challenge with each competition cycle and awards $100,000 in grants and technical assistance to the most promising collaborations focused on achieving positive outcomes on that specific challenge. (Past challenges and winners are listed below.) "Community foundations have a unique opportunity to bring together groups large and small to solve local and regional problems," said Boston Foundation CEO Paul S. Grogan at the program's outset. "We hope that Collaborate Boston will expand those cooperative efforts to new individuals, organizations and others with innovative ideas to achieve collective impact on the issues that matter most to them."
Cross-generational interaction typically involves experience and insight on the one hand, and aspirations and hope on another. Good cross-generational collaboration yields all of that in both hands.
That became clear at an inspiring May 31st gathering at the Boston Foundation where the Boston Neighborhood Fellows introduced this year’s Collaborate Boston winners. The winners are tackling urban challenges by uniting people across generations—in urban agriculture, mentorship, storytelling, dance and resilience. Each receives a $20,000 grant and other support.
But collaboration isn't just a part of the solutions - it was built into the process.
The 10 members of the 2017-2018 class of Boston Neighborhood Fellows worked to define this year’s Collaborate Boston theme, review applications and select the winners. At the celebratory event, Fellows introduced members of each of the collaborations, who spoke about their projects.
Mutual respect and support abounded among Fellows, grantees and the crowd, which only intensified with a rousing keynote delivered by former Collaborate Boston winner, founder of Breakfast IV Brothers, and Senior Manager of Community Engagement for the Boston Celtics, Pastor John Borders IV.
He offered a “social experiment” to begin his remarks. He took a dollar bill from his pocket. “I have here one dollar,” he announced and held it out. The people gathered around waited, glanced at one another. After a pause he repeated: “Here is a dollar.” Finally someone stepped forward and took it and with a grin slipping the dollar into his breast pocket. Then Borders produced another bill. “I have here a five dollar bill,” he said, and held it out. A quick-witted person speed-walked to accept the bill with a flourish. “I got you!” she said.
What did we just see? Borders asked. With the first bill we saw uncertainty, hesitation, skepticism and a brave soul taking action. With the second bill, people were ready to dive in. “You all are trying something new,” he said. “Something people may have doubts about. But seeing it done makes it easier for others to follow. Seeing success makes others want to do it too.”
He offered advice to the grantees based on his own experience. Plan the impact of every penny before you spend a dime, he suggested. Lean on this community. Ask questions. Come to every event at the Boston Foundation. Meet people and connect. Use your current excitement as leverage to go farther. Slow down. And be grateful. “Enjoy this moment,” he ended, “but don’t let it be the end.”
Focus: Uplift youth voices to strengthen racial, ethnic and community connections around Greater Boston.
See the 2016 press release for details.
Collaborate Boston was on hiatus in 2015.
Focus: Resident-led collaborations to strengthen the Fairmount Corridor neighborhoods of Dorchester, Hyde Park, Mattapan or Roxbury.
See the 2014 press release for details.
Focus: Improving the lives and futures of black and brown young men (ages 9–14) living in Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury.
See the 2013 press release for details.