Still there at the beginning | City of Ideas

Posted 10/18/2016 by James Burnett

From time to time we like to share with you the stories of organizations we helped get off the ground. And with the Housing Report Card coming out soon, now is a great time to remind you of The Community Builders, an organization that launched 52 years ago as South End Community Development.

In 1964, the Boston Foundation issued a $75,000 grant to urban housing pioneer Bob Whittlesey to launch South End Community Development.

In the Boston Foundation book, There at the Beginning: How the Boston Foundation Took a Chance on More Than 100 Great Ideas That Worked, Whittlesey said of his organization's start: “I remember talking with the director of the Boston Foundation about involving the tenants themselves in the ownership and design of new housing. That idea was almost revolutionary at the time.”

Whittlesey's new organization showed it made sense at the time to rehabilitate South End row houses. What became The Community Builders later began assisting other nonprofits, including Tent City Corporation and Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, carrying out large scale community redevelopment in Boston.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that the Boston Foundation has walked the trail with us side-by-side since the very beginning,” Whittlesey said in There at the Beginning. “It has played a tremendously significant role in the nonprofit housing development phenomenon in this city.”

Kudos to The Community Builders for still being "in the game," and as we await the next Greater Boston Housing Report Card, here's to the discovery of the next Community Builders, and may the Foundation be there for its start.

H/T Barbara Hindley, Senior Director of Publications and Marketing at the Boston Foundation, co-author and editor of There at the Beginning.


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