Harvard President Drew Faust and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined leaders of local nonprofits, elected officials, and Allston residents at the Honan-Allston Branch Library March 2 to celebrate the nine local nonprofit organizations receiving $100,000 in Harvard-Allston Partnership Fund (HAPF) grants this winter.
The event marked the fourth installment of the HAPF, a $500,000 five-year program 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 through annual grants of $100,000. Over the past four years, HAPF has infused $400,000 into 19 nonprofits, helping to maintain and expand critical community programming.
The library’s community room was filled with people who work together in many ways to improve the Allston-Brighton community, including Rep. Kevin Honan and city councillors Mark Ciommo, Felix Arroyo, and John Connolly.
Christine Heenan, vice president of Harvard Public Affairs & Communications, welcomed the audience, acknowledged the important work of the nonprofits represented, and introduced Boston’s mayor as “a good neighbor and great civic leader” who encourages citizens to get to know their neighbors and join with one another in order to reach new heights together.
Menino noted the importance of the partnership and its impact on Allston-Brighton residents and local nonprofits during hard economic times.
“I want to say to President Faust and this community, ‘Thank you for your partnership,’ ” Menino said. “Nine local organizations are receiving a total of $100,000 to continue their missions. They’re bringing vital services to our families and our seniors and are making a difference in people’s lives,” he added.
This winter’s grants will help local nonprofits provide free educational enrichment for Allston-Brighton children and families, job skills training for the disabled, summer camps for youth, volunteer opportunities for Charles River maintenance, and other community support programs such as the Family Nurturing Center, which is using its grant to form its first Chinese Families Playgroup at the Honan-Allston Library. Even the event’s host, the Honan-Allston Library, received a grant for a new teenage center with computers, couches, and chairs through the efforts of the Friends of the Honan-Allston Library.
Faust said that the library was a fitting place for the celebration, not only because of its HAPF grant, but also because of the way libraries bring community together — a goal of all the organizations represented in the room.
“Supporting the Harvard Allston Partnership Fund is an important part of our ongoing partnership with the Allston-Brighton community,” said Faust, “but it’s really you — the organizations here — that leverage that contribution to create thoughtful and meaningful programs that can have an enormous impact on the community.”
While the presence of Menino and Faust, along with elected officials and nonprofit leaders, clearly energized the room, it was the Gardner Pilot Academy’s (GPA) physical education instructor Donnell Stoute, better known as “Mr. D,” and his two young counterparts who stole the show.
Stoute said he sees firsthand the impact these funds have on youngsters in after-school and summer programs. Aaliyana Abraham and Andre Robinson, two fourth-grade students who have attended after-school and summer programs at the GPA for four years, spoke about what the programming means to them.
“We get to enjoy ourselves, do our homework, and be who we want to be,” said Abraham. Robinson followed with a heart-felt tribute to Stoute and physical fitness.
Directors of the GPA after-school program, summer programs, and adult education program said HAPF funds have enabled the GPA to continue providing programs for 130 children and increase the number of parents they serve through adult education classes. “Harvard has been a tremendous community partner through many programs,” said Lauren Fogarty, director of extended learning at the GPA. In addition to the HAPF grants GPA has received (a total of $75,000 over three years), Fogarty noted that the Harvard Achievement Support Initiative (HASI), Harvard Business School mentors, the Harvard Allston Ed Portal, and Harvard Bridge programs all have connections with the GPA.
The nine HAPF grant recipients include the Family Nurturing Center of Massachusetts, the Friends of the Honan-Allston Library, the Gardner Pilot Academy, the Oak Square YMCA, The Fishing Academy, The Literacy Connection, a ministry of the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston, the Vocational Advancement Center (VAC), and the West End House Camp. Each was selected by a seven-person mayor-appointed advisory committee made up of Allston-Brighton community members. The committee carefully scrutinized a pool of applications to identify programs and services that would directly benefit the community. Organizations received grants ranging from $4,000 to almost $25,000.
The $4,850 awarded to the Family Nurturing Center of Massachusetts will allow the nonprofit to provide services to a new population at the library, but Valerie Bean, development officer at the center, saw the broader impact of the day.
“That $100,000 may not seem like a lot, but the impact is huge,” she said. “It’s a lot to the Chinese parent who meets another Chinese parent at one of our playgroups and makes a connection that lasts a lifetime; it’s a lot for a child that goes to camp who otherwise couldn’t afford to go; it’s a lot for the children and families who learn at the Gardner Pilot Academy,” Bean said.
“The effects of the HAP Fund have been rippling out now for four years to 19 organizations and hundreds of people that have been served. We all are truly grateful for this support,” she added.