Collaborate Boston

Supporting collaborative efforts to build strong communities

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.

Collaborate Boston

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."

Collaborate Boston 2018

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.”

2018 Collaborate Boston Grantees

The Boston Resilience Collaborative 
Partners: Boston Alliance of Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth. 
The partners will organize a conference and other opportunities to unite different generations of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals to elevate their shared voices and eliminate barriers between generations to reduce the marginalization of transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

The Green Team World Crops Project

The Green Team World Crops Project
Partners: Groundwork Somerville, Mystic Community Garden, SomerVIVA.  
Youth will interview immigrant elders to learn about foods native to their home countries. The youth will then be paired with mentor farmers, who will guide them as they grow, harvest and sell those crops to neighborhood families at affordable prices.

Helping Girls Shine by LIPGLOSS (Ladies Involved in Protecting Girls’ Lives On Serious Subjects)
Partners: LIPGLOSS, Boston Emergency Services Team, Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester. 
Twenty girls chosen by the Boys & Girls Club of Dorchester will convene for an 8-12 week program to learn from their elders as they develop leadership skills and discover the power of sharing stories as well as how to manage difficult but necessary conversations.
A group of six men and women stand in front of a blue TBF backdrop and pose for a photo, one woman is holding a piece of paper
Boston Asian American Immigration Stories and Support Network
Partners: Asian American Resource Workshops, Greater Boston Legal Services – Asian Outreach Unit. 
Asian Outreach Unit Groups will come together to collectively identify and seek to dismantle problems rooted in systems of oppression. Young and old will share and uplift Asian immigration stories, and help design and implement Know Your Rights workshops to build immigrant power.
The Racines Black Dance Festival
 Partners: The Racine Dance Company and community artists. 
Led by passionate community artists, this festival will create an inclusive, accessible, intergenerational experience through dance as it educates participants of all ages, races, gender identities and backgrounds in the discipline and history of pan-African dance in a supportive environment.

Past Collaborate Boston Winners


Focus: Uplift youth voices to strengthen racial, ethnic and community connections around Greater Boston.

  • Beat 58 Personal Training Studio
  • Immigrant Youth Leadership Initiative
  • Nomadic Civic Sculpture
  • Youth Police Unity Project

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.

  • Breakfast IV Brothers
  • Fairmount Arts Collaborative
  • Fields Corner Shines
  • Seeds of Change Bulk Food Buy-In Market

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.

  • Black and Latino Boys at the STEM of Success
  • Codman Square Brotherhood Project

See the 2013 press release for details.