Mural and park

Place Leadership Network

First cohort to be announced in July

Through a nine-month peer learning and leadership development program, as well as through financial support, the Boston Foundation intends to elevate stewards of public spaces that contribute to creative, culturally vibrant, and equitable communities.

Creative, culturally-vibrant, and equitable public public spaces require dedicated stewards. These stewards are as varied as the places under their care: Main Streets, parks conservancies, Business Improvement Districts, CDCs, Cultural Districts and others. These types of organizations have been increasingly responsible for the shape of their neighborhoods. They formulate policy, advocate for city services, serve as platforms for creative expression and, most recently, bulwark communities against the tide of gentrification. Though they differ vastly in mandate and capacity, what unites these “place managers” is their vital role in representing community interest in the design and activation of shared spaces.

The Place Leadership Network will connect and strengthen leaders in the place management field. For nine months, local place-based leaders will learn from one another, access a network of expertise and resources, and advance transformative projects for their communities in an institute setting. Participants in the program, representing a diverse scale, geography, and constituency of the region, will be compensated for their participation. At the conclusion, the Boston Foundation will dedicate a meaningful fund available to participants to implement programs and projects that are developed as part of the Place Leadership Network.

Key Dates

Applications closed: May 20, 6 p.m. 

Decisions announced: July 1

Cohort sessions begin: August 15 

Recommended reading

Why our shared spaces matter:
Thoughts on urbanism and equity
Read more >

Design selected for King Boston memorial:
New public space and sculpture plans unveiled
Read more >

Arts and Culture

The Place Leadership Network Program

Over the course of nine months, participants will build networks and organizational capacity through a series of focused, facilitated curricular modules. Each module will be themed around a critical element of place management, such as planning and zoning, tactical urbanism, fundraising, and working with creative producers. This curriculum will be guided both by disciplinary experts and by fellow participants, emphasizing peer-to-peer learning as part of the process. All participants will be compensated for their time. 

At the conclusion of the program, the Boston Foundation will establish a fund in order to support participants in implementing tangible projects. Meaningful investments from this fund will support projects throughout the Boston region. All participating organizations that complete the previous phase will be eligible to apply for funding. Additional technical assistance support, mentorship, and evaluation will be made available to all funded participants.

Guidelines graphic
Image: City of Boston,"Tactical Public Realm Guidelines"

Why here and now?

In the current planning and development boom, Boston is undergoing dramatic changes. Like urban areas across the U.S., Boston is being reshaped by real estate market pressures, demographic shifts, climate change, globalization, and other powerful forces. At this pivotal moment, the interests and cultural identity of the city’s neighborhoods are in greatest need of being championed. 

Place management organizations throughout Boston are the most effective champions of local needs, and serve as platforms for the cultural expression of their communities. They are at the front lines of making their communities creative, culturally vibrant, and equitable.


Learn more about the design of the Place Leadership Network, its goals, its collaborative spirit, and its partners in the Frequently Asked Questions


“Place management” is cumbersome, “placemaking” is a cliche, and even the notion of “place” itself is contested. We don’t expect that everyone will have the same definitions of common (and unusual) terms as we do, so we put together a basic glossary here.

For more information on the Network, or the upcoming information sessions, please contact F. Philip Barash