Welcome back to students, teachers, and staff of the Boston Public Schools and schools all around Greater Boston! Since last Spring, teams of Boston Cares individual and corporate volunteers have been working hard to prepare schools for the Fall. Students may be out on vacation, but Summer is our busy period for corporate volunteering.
One of the Boston Cares’ core impact areas is Making Sure Young People Succeed. For that reason, Boston Cares has worked closely with the Boston Public Schools for many years, including having an AmeriCorps VISTA embedded in the school department. We work with BPS and other school systems to identify needs and match corporate and individual volunteer groups to fill them. Helping to make a difference in the lives of kids and teachers is something we can all get behind. Here are some of the things we’ve done this year in the schools.
Last May 31, Boston Cares kicked off the school transformation season with our Spring in the Schoolyard event. Volunteers from Altman Vilandrie, MaPS, and Management Solutions transformed the schoolyard at the Edward Everett School. This space is used for outdoor classrooms. We’ll be back in the schools next February vacation with another Seasons of Service opportunity for small to medium sized companies or corporate business units to volunteer together.
On August 7, 2014, 210 Fidelity volunteers joined Boston Cares for the company’s fifth School Transformation Day (click for a fun video of the day), which took place at five sites in Dorchester, the largest neighborhood in the City of Boston. The project was part of Fidelity’s ongoing commitment to support the schools and youth in that community.
Other companies doing school and youth volunteer projects include Boston Scientific, EMC, Oliver Wyman, Cushman & Wakefield, Cabot Corp, Cubist, and Clough Capital.
Some of the school and youth projects our corporate volunteers worked on this Summer include the following. All supplies were ordered and managed by Boston Cares and paid for by our corporate clients.
Boston Green Academy, Boston – Clough Capital volunteers helped the school prepare the grounds at its new location – building raised beds, a composter, and picnic tables. Our team of new AmeriCorps VISTAs also participated in this project.
Dearborn School, Boston — Scheduled to transform into a STEM school with a new building, this year the Dearborn will be sharing space with another school, the Burke High School. Teams from Fidelity helped pack and unpack the school and customize the new space to give a sense of familiarity. This included replicating inspirational quotes that were in the old space. Teacher carts were built and stocked with school supplies for teachers. Updated and prepares the BUILD incubator space at the Burke. Projects include painting, moving furniture and assembling new storage.
Elm St. Middle School, Nashua, NH – Fidelity volunteers worked on a variety of beautification projects including murals and landscaping.
Gardner Elementary School, Boston – Boston Scientific volunteers landscaped the schoolyard – clearing space, moving 12 cubic yards of crushed gravel for path, assembling a set of raised garden beds and filling with quality soil for growing, mulching the grounds and outdoor classroom seasonal prep.
Hale Elementary, Boston – Volunteers from EMC and Oliver Wyman painted halls bright fresh colors.
John Breen School, Lawrence — 47 volunteers from Cubist painted 25 classrooms and a teachers lounge, the largest number of rooms a volunteer group has painted in one day in Lawrence. This school system is in the midst of a comprehensive district turnaround under state receivership. The goal of the turnaround is to create high-performing schools through a variety of standards including ensuring that all schools have great leaders and teachers and harnessing the talent of proven partner organizations.
Mason Elementary, Boston – Cabot Corp volunteers cleared out tons of overgrowth in the backyard garden classroom, painted blacktops, created a new outdoor play area, and added new benches.
Mather School, Boston – All year Boston Cares has been working closely with Principal Emily Cox to get ready for the school’s 375th Anniversary celebrations this Fall – and the possibility of a visit from President Obama. The Mather is the oldest free public school in America. This involved a massive makeover, including painting all the hallways on four floors, building a 100’ bench for the basketball court, repainting all the blacktop murals, building 24 benches for the auditorium, and creating custom closet space in partnership with volunteers from the New England Carpenters Training Fund. Corporate teams from Fidelity and Boston Consulting Group both transformed the Mather.
Mendell Elementary, Boston – Cushman & Wakefield volunteers painted all the first floor halls and built new workstations.
Mt. Pleasant Elementary, Nashua, NH – Fidelity volunteers repainted outdoor line games and did landscaping.
UP Academy Dorchester, Boston – Volunteers from Fidelity madeover staff rooms with fresh paint, added in student tracking displays and bulletin boards.
UP Academy Holland School, Boston – Fidelity volunteers painted a large mural and numerous spaces in the building.
The Boston Cares STEM Fair is typically run in schools, but this summer we brought it to a park in Cambridge and provided this enrichment activity to five local summer camps. On a beautiful day in July, 29 Cubist volunteers educated 178 low-income youth by running fun science and math experiments that stimulated interest in curriculum topics of static electricity, probability, freezing point depression (ice cream!), and molecules. Each participating camp is supported by the Summer Fund: the Community Arts Center, Cambridge Community Center, Boys & Girls Club, YMCA of Cambridge, and the Margaret Fuller House.
Boston Cares volunteers also supported afterschool tutoring programs by fixing up spaces at the All Dorchester Sports League (Fidelity) and College Bound Dorchester (Cubist).
Individuals who volunteer in teams through the Boston Cares Calendar program also helped Greater Boston get back to school ready.
Calendar projects included:
Charles Yancey Book Fair – On August 30, 16 Boston Cares volunteers sorted books for this huge free book fair for kids, now in its 28th year.
MLK Summer Scholars – More than 100 Boston Cares volunteers served as mentors to teens in this summer jobs program at several large events throughout the summer.
Boston Green Academy, Boston – Volunteers helped pack up the school in June and move in August. Boston Green Academy, a Horace Mann In-District Charter School, moved from the South Boston Educational Complex to the Taft Building in Brighton and needed volunteers to help with many tasks,including but not limited to sorting materials and supplies, setting up classrooms, and aiding the Director of Technology prepare computer labs.
It’s been a fun summer and we are thrilled to have children back in school, being newly inspired by their spaces. Happy learning, kids!
Do you know of a school in the Greater Boston area that needs a physical transformation or would like to host a STEM Fair? Boston Cares is always looking for interesting projects. Please contact Rick Wallwork with inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.422.0910 x210.