The Grassroots strategy connects the Boston Foundation with key programs and innovative leaders, many who have had relevant lived experience.Read More
Jasmany Fuentes possesses a wisdom beyond his years, the byproduct of a searing family tragedy that took the life of his older brother, Jorge, four years ago in a yet-to-be solved case of gun violence. Jorge Fuentes is gone, but he is always in his younger brother’s thoughts. “He had a scholarship to college and he was going to become a Marine,” says Fuentes, whose own “lifelong dream” is to be an EMT. When they were little boys, both brothers benefited from an outstanding program run by St. Stephen’s Youth Programs in the South End.
Today, Jasmany Fuentes is one of 160 teen counselors in a program called B-SAFE, which reaches 500 children in six locations. It has been supported for the last three years through the Boston Foundation’s My Summer in the City initiative. From two nutritious meals every day to field trips and teambuilding activities in the morning, followed by academic support in the afternoon, B-SAFE is designed to stem the summer learning slide and provide positive enrichment opportunities for young people. Fuentes works hard at building relationships with the children. “I think some of the kids don’t receive the love they need at home,” he says. “You can tell when something’s wrong: They’ll be quiet or acting out and trash talking. I find that if you just take the time to build a bond with the kids, they’ll open up to you.” Clearly, Fuentes is good at this job—admiration and trust are written all over the faces of the children in his charge. His older brother, Jorge, would be very proud.
My Summer in the City was launched by the Boston Foundation and other funders in 2009 both to alleviate the uptick in violence that can accompany warm weather and school vacation, and help stem summer learning loss for low-income students. Over the last seven years, My Summer in the City has made grants to dozens of community based nonprofit organizations in every neighborhood in the city—fueling a profusion of positive activities throughout the summer. In the summer of 2016, the lion’s share of the funding went to organizations and programs that employ young people, in many cases giving them their very first jobs.