The Harvard Allston Skating Rink, a former car dealership turned temporary ice rink on Western Avenue, was buzzing Friday evening (Feb. 26), as Harvard President Drew Faust, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and a crowd of more than 150 gathered to celebrate another $100,000 in Harvard grants for local nonprofit groups.
It was the award ceremony for the second round of grants from the Harvard Allston Partnership Fund, a University-city-community collaboration that has infused about $200,000 over the past two years into 14 organizations that serve the Allston-Brighton community.
Menino and Faust took turns at the podium in front of the standing-room-only crowd in the community room, as die-hard local skaters took advantage of the free ice rink in the garage.
“Without the availability of these resources, these programs would not be able to fulfill their missions during these difficult economic times,” said Menino, who underscored the important work each organization does. “With Harvard’s assistance, we’re able to continue great programming that nurtures kids and keeps them busy, just like this skating rink.” In introducing Faust, Menino thanked her for being so available to Boston and Allston.
“Supporting local organizations that have an immediate and lasting impact on families in Allston-Brighton is just one way Harvard is actively engaged in the community,” said Faust. “We are committed to these important neighborhood partnerships, and to working together to enhance the quality of life for residents.”
Menino and Faust took turns reading the names and activities of the organizations receiving Harvard Allston Partnership Fund (HAPF) grants. Recipients included the Gardner Pilot Academy (GPA), Allston Brighton Youth Hockey, the Family Nurturing Center of Massachusetts, the Friends of the Honan-Allston Library, the Brighton-Allston Historical Society and Heritage Museum, the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston, the Fishing Academy, the West End House Boys Camp, and the West End House Girls Camp.
The grants will help local nonprofits to provide Allston-Brighton children and families with a range of programs and services, including after-school, summer enrichment, and mentoring experiences for young people; computer training and parenting classes for adults; “Learn to Skate” lessons for youth hockey players; and initiatives that celebrate the rich history of the neighborhood.
“Whether it’s giving every child who wants to the opportunity to skate for free or hop in a boat and learn to fish, these programs are opening up opportunities for our children and keeping them safe,” said John Bruno, a member of the resident-based Harvard Allston Partnership Fund board. “These grants are directly beneficial and provide a link between Harvard and the community that’s tangible and really makes a difference.”
The $500,000 Harvard Allston Partnership Fund was created in 2008 by Harvard University and the City of Boston, in collaboration with the Allston community, to support neighborhood improvement projects, cultural enrichment, and educational programming. To date, the $200,000 in grants has assisted 14 community organizations in beautifying the neighborhood, expanding existing community programs, and helping to broaden access to those programs through community-based scholarships. Last year, the grants also helped to launch a new community organization, the Allston Brighton Arts Bridge.
“It’s a real struggle in a downturn economy to sustain our program model of serving the whole child, which includes academic enrichment and social support for children and their families,” said Lauren Fogarty, director of Extended Learning Time at the Gardner Pilot Academy, which received funding this winter. “Taking any of the pieces we offer away will keep us from reaching our mission, and these grants will make a huge difference to sustain the programs, as well as close opportunity gaps for North Allston-North Brighton students.”