The following is a Christian Work Project sponsored in part by a grant from the Boston Baptist Social Union.
The Boston Project Ministries
Misssion, Key Goals and Objectives
TBPM is a faith-based service organization, mobilizing residents and volunteers in projects to help build and nurture strong communities. We work to create a thriving urban community and fulfill our mission through (1) involving neighbors as volunteers and leaders in community improvement projects, and (2) providing new resources (such as short-term volunteers. skill-specific expertise, and financial means within the Talbot-Norfolk Triangle [TNT] community. TBPM is a unique community-based agency in three primary ways. First, we target a geographicallu specific area, adopting a strategy that focuses our efforts on neighborhood revitalization corner by corner, involving local youth and adults in decision making and community action. Second, we are a highly accessible resource to residents of our community. We are anchored here year-round residing in the same community where we work. Not only do we provide direct services and opportunities, we are also a gateway for engaging neighbors with other organizations and a resource connection for underutilized services in our neighborhood. Finally we leverage partnerships, and are uniquely suited to work alongside the local faith community to address the spiritual needs that we encounter.
One of our main priorities is investment in the next generation of local leaders. We want to meet the needs of underserved youth, while providing opportunities that involve them in grassroots community action to improve their own neighborhood and encourage civic engagement for a lifetime. To achieve this goal, we provide services, opportunities and supports designed to meet the holistic needs of at-risk children and youth.
We are requesting continued support from the Boston Baptist Social Union to further our work with at-risk youth in Dorchester through our Neighborhood Youth Ministries program [NYM]. Support from BBSU will fund our 2009 Summer of Discovery and our 2009-2010 academic year programs and events (a11 available free of charge to our neighborhood).
“Love God and love others” is a foundational principle of TBPM. We take Jesus' instruction to a very practical level, searching for tangible ways in which to reach out to and empower our neighbors. For our NYM, this means living and sharing His message of hope. We believe God has created each young person as a unique masterpiece. Our desire is to love each child and teenager for who they are and to discover with them God's exciting purpose for their life. We also partner with a local body of believers, and often encourage youth to attend Global Ministries Christian Church (an American Baptist Church) for worship and teaching.
We run several programs throughout the year with the goal of building up and encouraging youth and families in our neighborhood. We seek to love young people through these relationally based outreaches that work to meet the physical, academic, spiritual, emotional, and economic needs of our neighborhood year round.
- Summer Leadership Opportunities: Our Summer Leadership Opportunities program is designed to specifically address accessibility of summer program opportunities in our neighborhood and equip our young people with leadership skills to respond to issues of environmental and economic Injustice. We develop leadership and employment skills in a safe local setting through training, mentorship and hands-on community service. Last summer, BBSU helped provide twelve (12) new jobs for teenagers in our neighborhood. This summer, in collaboration with a police-community partnership, we are working to double the number of youth jobs available in our neighborhood.
- Explorer's Club: — Our Explorer's Club includes a summer Fitness and Fine Arts program and Bible CLUB for understated youth. We know that our local children need cost-free, accessible opportunities for creative engagement, exercise, and interaction with caring adults during the summer months of school vacation. The summer is a critical time for children to develop social skills with other young people who live on different streets but may attend schools all over Boston. New relationships and friendships between youth strengthen the fabric of our neighborhood.
We decided to emphasize a Fine Arts component in '09 because we have a growing relationship with a long-time Dorchester resident (and former seasonal staff employee who runs dance clinics.
- Academic Assistance Programs: We provide academic assistance, free school supplies, and a nutritious after school snack for any child in the community who would like homework help. After school assistance is provided on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons to children ages 4 - 11. Supervised open computer time is available to youth of any age on Monday and Wednesday afternoon.
In 2008-09, we realized we needed to increase the number of volunteers we engage so that high school age youth could get more hands-on help. Now, one-on-one tutoring and mentoring sessions with local adult volunteers are scheduled by request for high school students.
- Real Life Bible Study: Real Life is a year-round Bible study for our local teenagers. Last year, through participation in Real Life and through attending Global Ministries Christian Church, three (3) youth accepted Christ as their personal savior and another five (5) decided to be baptized. We are excited to continue to offer Real Life to support their spiritual development.
This study began as a summer-only group, but enthusiastic support from our youth encouraged us to continue to host Real Life this past year as a forum for discussing the Bible, our faith, and its impact on the real world issues that we confront daily.
- June - August 2009: Summer of Discovery. Summer staff and directors receive a two-week intensive training prior to the launch of programming. Summer programs, Bible study, internships and job positions for youth run from early July through mid- to late August. The summer ends with one week of staff closure and program evaluation.
- September 2009 - May 2010: Academic Year Opportunities. Any young person in the community who needs homework help is free to sign up for our academic year programs. We offer Real Life Bible study weekly. Community service days, holiday celebrations, and other events are also sponsored monthly.
2008 NYM Overview
Our NYM program attracts children and youth primarily from the Talbot-Norfolk Triangle located west of Washington Street in the Codman Square neighborhood of Dorchester, MA. Historically this eleven (11)-street area has been considered an understated region, primarily comprised of low- and middle-income families. 30.64% of families fell under the federal poverty line in 2000 (twice the city-wide average). Female-headed households also make up one-third of the local population. The area geographically has few packs and open spaces for children to play, although 456 children are under 18 live in the TNT.
TBPM provides services, supports, and opportunities to individuals primarily from the TNT neighborhood located west of Washington Street in Codman Square (Dorchester). This area is home to approximately 1,348 people. According to year 2000 census data area residents are: 79% Black or African American, 12% Latino, 5% white, 2% Asian, 2% other.
We served thirty-one (31) children and teens during the academic year and an additional forty (40) to fifty (50) young people during the summer. We target our work to serve the at-risk youth population, who may be in a single-parent home, live below the federal poverty line, have gang related siblings, or be at risk of school failure. Approximately 18% of the children and youth in the TNT have had contact with TBPM, through community events, academic help, or internship opportunities. Children and families learn of our programs through an informal network of peerto-peer outreach, the referral of other local organizations, and through fliers regularly distributed throughout the neighborhood and at local businesses. We also work alongside approximately thirty-five youth and adult residents through our partnership with the monthly neighborhood group TNT Neighbors United.
Our 2008 Goals- Accomplished!
In 2008, we accomplished several goals with the help of BBSU, including: providing new jobs for teenagers in our community, offering academic tutoring and mentorship during the school ear and decreasing the number of our youth who attended summer school, and hosting our 10th year summer of Bible CLUB for children on Elmhurst Street.
As we look forward to 2009, we envision two primary means of growth:
- Youth Employment. As previously mentioned, TBPM is part of an initiative to increase the number of youth jobs available in our neighborhood. The National Youth Employment Coalition recently posted a report prepared by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University detailing weakening labor market conditions and forecasting a teen summer employment rate that will mark a 60 year historical low. The report also revealed that low-income youth have borne the largest relative decline in employment from 2000-08, and are the most likely to be unemployed or underemployed. Youth from our neighborhood, the Talbot-Norfolk Triangle [TNT] will soon face a dilemma as they search for internships and employment this summer, and we want to be part of the solution.
- Family Outreach and Volunteering. Last summer we received grant funding from the Harvard-Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation to run an evening of informal programming for families centered on food and fitness. The response was phenomenal- as many as 40-50 children, teenagers and adults would fill up our local vacant lot to play and eat together. We want to increase our outreach to families, and also concentrate on providing families the opportunity to serve together through TBPM. Moreover, this summer we will recruit neighbors to support leadership of this continuing program.