We believe all young people have the right to pursue their spark and chart their own course. That’s why at the Boston Opportunity Agenda, we’re asking Boston’s caring adults in schools, afterschool programs, businesses, government and neighborhoods to think boldly about how we might help young people prepare for the universe of opportunities in our city and region.
When young people know that we are by their side as coaches and friends, they are even more driven to learn and embrace new experiences. And they are more likely to be lifelong learners equipped to achieve their goals, reach financial security and engage in civic life.
Currently, less than half of students who graduate from Boston’s district, charter and Catholic schools are prepared to pursue higher education – despite more than half of all job vacancies in the city requiring at least an Associate’s degree. These readiness gaps are widening as COVID-19 continues to disproportionately impact Black, Latinx, Asian and Native American students.
To meet these challenges, the Boston Opportunity invested a total of $30,000 into three programs committed to answering this question: How might we help Boston’s high school students go beyond exposure to local industries to get meaningful learning and skills that they can leverage after graduation – even now during the pandemic?
See below to learn how our 2021 grant recipients – FableVision, XR Terra and Fontbonne – answered this question! Congratulations to our recipients and thank you for investing in the future of Boston’s young people.
Following FableVision’s launch of two new CTE programs in digital animation and engineering design last year, the organization will pilot both programs across six Boston schools and three to six public libraries in underserved communities. Since both programs are web-based, FableVision’s partnership with the Boston Public Library and its 28 branches will allow all students the opportunity to participate and access professional mentorships and programming software either at home or at a public library nearest to them. The animation and engineering programs will eventually be deployed across the entire district – making it available to all 16,010 students in grades 9 - 12.
COVID-19 has brought tremendous attention to XR (umbrella term for Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality), as a new medium for building complex interactions and user engagement with applications across multiple industries including healthcare, industrial manufacturing and education. Alongside a local referring agency, XR Terra will recruit and work with high school students across Boston and surrounding areas to introduce youth to XR technologies and the skill sets needed to pursue future interest in computer science, interactive media, fine arts – and many other industries. Participation in the summer program may also lead to eventual certification as a Unity Certified Associate.
Fontbonne’s Early College Model seeks to close the opportunity gap for young women leaders as they enter the workforce through education, skill development, career exploration and alumni networking. Alongside partners like HubSpot, Fidelity Investments and the Massachusetts Society of CPAs, Fontbonne exposes young women to industries where they are typically under-represented and offers unique opportunities with professional sponsors and mentors. Through traditional and non-traditional recruitment efforts (i.e., TikTok videos), Fontbonne’s admission process is open to all students from public and private schools, and 52% receive some sort of tuition assistance.
Each 2021 grant recipient submitted a unique idea that fit the following criteria!
Through our research, we understand that business leaders in Boston need a roadmap to help illustrate the types of efforts and programs that youth would find valuable. As part of Generation Success, we created a “bright spot toolkit” to feature high-quality programs in Boston that are run by businesses and private industries in the region. Our hope is to share examples of the great work already being done to prepare students for college, career and life after high school by industry groups, and motivate other businesses to follow suit.
Generation Success invites businesses as well as out-of-school providers to submit their programs as we expand this toolkit!
If you are interested in learning more about how your business can become involved, check out these exciting opportunities for employers to engage with Boston-area schools and students now!
Boston Private Industry Council
Discover how your business can build the workforce of tomorrow. Learn how you can host young people for office tours or job shadowing opportunities, hire high school students for entry-level positions or internships and/or join an industry convening.
BoSTEM United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley
Help present engaging STEM opportunities to Boston middle school students. Learn more about corporate volunteer programs and how you can host experiential learning workshops to young people or provide industry externships for teachers.