Boston Foundation’s Collaborate Boston competition announces 2016 winners

November 17, 2016

Youth-centric winning organizations employ leadership training, sculpture, storytelling, and fitness training to empower teens and young adults.

Boston – The Boston Foundation’s Collaborate Boston competition announced Thursday evening four winners for this prize cycle.

Launched in October 2013, Collaborate Boston is an open prize competition for community-led, collaborative ideas.  Each prize cycle, $100,000 in funding is awarded to the most promising collaborations focused on achieving specific outcomes for the people and/or places that make up our communities and that demonstrate strong leadership by a specified group. Collaborate Boston is based on the dual premises that it will take all of us working together across organizations, sectors and other silos to achieve the complex and lasting change we seek; and that some of the best, most powerful ideas about how to strengthen communities come from the communities themselves. This year’s Collaborate Boston challenge focused on uplifting youth voice and generating ideas on how strengthen racial, ethnic and community connections across Greater Boston.

“The Boston Foundation couldn’t be more pleased to reward the Collaborate Boston winners for their general hard work and their specific efforts to train and empower young people to become leaders who will help to shape Boston’s future, as we look to set an example for the nation at large,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of The Boston Foundation.

The 2016 winners are:

  • Immigrant Youth Leadership Initiative, a collaboration of the Center to Support Immigrant Organizing, African Community Economic Development of New England, and Margarita Muñiz Academy. This initiative will groom a team of 25 teenage high school immigrant leaders, along with six immigrant college-aged mentors from Latino, African, and Chinese communities. The leaders and mentors will provide leadership training to 100-plus immigrant teens in facilitation, membership development, and root cause analysis. The ultimate goal of the trainings is to help the youth leaders use their new leadership skills to address the challenges of appropriate language learning in the Boston Public Schools.
  • Youth Police Unity Project, a collaboration of the Center for Teen Empowerment, the Boston Police Department, and the Somerville Police Department. This project has, for the past three years, brought together groups of teenagers and police officers, with a goal of building positive and respectful relationships between the two that will tear down stereotypes. At the conclusion of a period of bonding and development, the youth half of the collaboration will lead both sides in the creation of a public art project.
  • Nomadic Civic Sculpture, a collaboration of the Urbano Project, CJET Consulting, and Urban Edge. The Nomadic Civic Sculpture is the result of work made by the Urbano Fellows, high school aged program alumni who have participated in Urbano’s programs for at least two semesters, for spring 2016. The Fellows created interactive art that activates nontraditional public spaces, and crosses symbolic barriers to demystify the notion of art as a luxury and use it as a tool to engage with and transform the community. The Civic Sculpture serves a multifold of functions ranging from portable gallery to interactive data collection tool. The piece was inspired by the concepts of identity, BPS budget cuts, public space usage, and youth violence.
  • Beat 58 Personal Training Studio, a collaboration of Level Ground Mixed Martial Arts, HoodFit, and ACCEPT Personal Training School. The aim of this initiative is to position urban youth as leaders that increase the life expectancy and enhance the quality of life of residents through accessible, engaging fitness opportunities, reversing the trends of preventable chronic disease that disproportionately affects low-income, Black and Latino youth and adults. In the next year, Level Ground Student Trainers will serve an estimated 600 community residents through Beat 58 Initiatives.


“Stories about conflicts and violence between youth of color and police are regularly in the news recently, but Teen Empowerment is working with police in Boston and Somerville to change that narrative,” said Stephanie Berkowitz, Director of External Relations at the Center for Teen Empowerment. “Both youth and police feel beleaguered by negative stereotypes, but the Collaborate Boston award will help draw attention to the good work of local youth and police to build meaningful relationships based on trust. The grant will help us work together to expand honest community conversations, including dialogue sessions that help youth and police learn to communicate more effectively in the streets.”

Alexandra Fuller, Founder and Executive Director of Level Ground Mixed Martial Arts, echoed Berkowitz and said beyond public safety Beat 58’s Collaborate Boston win shows that teenagers can help tackle public health problems as well.
“Our Collaboration believes that urban youth are an untapped asset in reversing the trends of obesity, preventable chronic disease, and early life expectancy for low-income communities,” Fuller said. “We cannot wait to empower our young people to lead their community towards good health and a long life.”


The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the largest community foundations in the nation, with net assets of about $1 billion. In 2015, the Foundation and its donors paid $135 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of $123 million. In celebration of its Centennial in 2015, the Boston Foundation launched the Campaign for Boston to strengthen the Permanent Fund for Boston, the only endowment fund focused on the most pressing needs of Greater Boston. The Foundation is proud to be a partner in philanthropy, with more than 1,000 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes.

The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, think tank and advocacy organization, commissioning research into the most critical issues of our time and helping to shape public policy designed to advance opportunity for everyone in Greater Boston. The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), an operating unit of the Foundation, designs and implements customized philanthropic strategies for families, foundations and corporations around the globe. For more information about the Boston Foundation and TPI, visit or call 617-338-1700.