Investing in our summer needs | City of Ideas
Boston Mayor Thomas Menino deserves a tip of the hat for his determination to invest in summer jobs and programs that make a difference. And a number of foundations and corporations have stepped up to fund job opportunities, especially needed for young men with CORIs (criminal records), who face the added barrier of their background in finding work that will keep them off the street and away from the influence of gangs, crime and violence.
We need more of these opportunities – and we hope the success of programs like our My Summer in the City initiative at providing both youth activities and summer employment can inspire others to join in the fight.
This year was the fourth for My Summer in the City, a network of nearly 30 programs providing activities and summer jobs for youth across Boston. MSITC was developed and coordinated by the Boston Foundation but is funded in conjunction with the Yawkey Foundation, the Barr Foundation, an anonymous corporate donor and several individual donors.
Take a tour of Boston neighborhoods on a summer evening, and you have a likelihood of finding a My Summer in the City or other Foundation-supported event – from the North End to East Boston to South Boston to Dorchester, Roxbury, Hyde Park and Mattapan. In peak weeks, you could find more than 70 listings of family-friendly safe summer activities on the My Summer in the City calendar.
Earlier this month, I had an opportunity for a whirlwind visit to some great summer programs. At Back Bay Station we were met by teen tour guides from M.Y.T.O.W.N. (Multicultural Youth Tour of What’s Now) who led historical walking tours of the South End, building their research and leadership skills as they learn about their community.
That same night in South Boston, TBF staff helped build lanterns at one of Medicine Wheel Productions great My Summer in the City art opportunities at No Man’s Land. They ended the evening at Jim Rice Field in the South End, where we joined ‘My Summer in the City’ grantee The Base and the Boston Astros for the Astros Alumni Game. Founded by my friend and former Boston Foundation colleague Robert Lewis, Jr., The Base will take the lessons of Robert’s 34 years running the Astros and provide comprehensive athletic and educational opportunities for boys in Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan.
Robert talks of The Base as a place to develop a “Winning Game Plan for Life.” As these three programs demonstrate – he developed another winning plan when he helped create My Summer in the City while at the Boston Foundation.
Summer is a time of opportunity, but it’s through programs like those of My Summer in the City that we can expand that opportunity to more youth – and meet critical needs.