Boston Beyond is committed to addressing structural racism and inequity and to shaping a world where justice and equity for the children of our community is a new reality. The inequities in opportunities to learn, develop, and connect to college and careers—though not always visible—have pernicious effects on life outcomes in health, education, and social mobility.

These inequities are insidious and masked by the dated notion that school alone is the great equalizer in opportunity. But we know that children of color have different school experiences than their white peers. We also know that they have far less access to after-school and summer programs and jobs. The lack of historical economic mobility and disparities in transportation options by race in Boston limit learning beyond the classroom for children of color, leading to diminished access to the city’s broad array of enrichment opportunities.

The result is fewer opportunities for children of color to develop the skills and social capital that will benefit them into the future. Despite leading in average school performance, Massachusetts has substantial gaps in achievement, wealth, and life outcomes based on race and zip code. A Federal Reserve Bank of Boston study revealed an enormous disparity in wealth by race: the median net worth in Boston for whites in 2017 was $247,500, compared to just $8 for Black households. Economist Raj Chetty found that “black Americans have substantially lower rates of upward mobility and higher rates of downward mobility than whites.”  Even controlling for parental income, Black boys have lower incomes than white boys in adulthood in nearly every Census tract.

Even an ideal school experience cannot fix this imbalance, since children spend just 20% of their waking hours in school. The other 80% of their waking hours is when disadvantage is exacerbated. Consider three measures of this opportunity gap: (1) wealthier families spend seven times as much on enrichment than lower income families, a gap that has nearly doubled over 30 years; (2) higher income children participate in sports, clubs, and lessons at twice the rate of lower income children; and (3) by the sixth grade, children born into poverty will have access to 6,000 fewer hours learning than their middle class peers.

Boston Beyond is committed to closing these gaps in opportunity to ensure that Boston’s children, particularly Black and Latinx youth, have access to a full education, one that includes after-school and summer learning and employment. Boston Beyond is committed to helping improve the quality of these opportunities so that they not only nurture and support young people, but also prepare them for the next steps in their journey.

Learning beyond school should be an expectation for all young people, and not just for those with financial means and connections.  We will shine a light on how to mobilize a broad and diverse array of stakeholders to address racial inequity by creating opportunity. We are engaging our staff, board members, and network of partners to do so and are eager to report on our progress along the way.

July 21, 2020

On Saturday, November 7, over 100 out-of-school time programs, families, and educators came together to learn about academic and enrichment opportunities for Boston’s youth this school year. Leaders from 30 organizations pitched their programs to over 60 families and public school educators. Boston After School & Beyond organized the virtual fair in collaboration with partners in our network, including Greatest MINDS, Community Rowing Inc., HERO Kids Sports LLC, Strong Women Strong Girls, Strong Women In Action, and Rehearsal for Life. After introductions, program representatives facilitated discussion in grade-level breakout rooms among parents and students. Programs are following up with families who expressed interest in enrolling their children in school day pods and after-school programs. 

In addition to connecting families to timely opportunities, this fair enabled programs to network with one another and discuss ways to collaborate in the future. Feedback was positive, with both partners and families expressing appreciation for the opportunity to connect with one another. Boston Beyond is grateful for everyone’s participation, especially our partners who helped to organize and lead the fair.

To learn more about school year opportunities, visit Boston Beyond’s webpage, Using the City as a Classroom.

November 18, 2020









At its annual meeting, the Boston After School & Beyond Board of Directors elected new leadership. James Morton, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston and vice-chair of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, will serve as chair of the Boston Beyond board of directors; Margaret McKenna, president emerita of Lesley University and chair of the Boston Human Rights Commission, will serve as vice-chair of the board.

“Margaret and I look forward to working in partnership with Chris Smith, our fellow Board members, and the leadership of Boston Beyond to advance its commitment to the success of all children, in school and in life,” said Morton. “The relevance and importance of this work has never been clearer than in these times when persistent disparities in education, health and wealth challenge us to do better, to do more, and to do it now.”

“There has never been a more important time for Boston Beyond’s work. We have known about summer learning loss for decades, but Covid-19 has exacerbated existing disparities. I look forward to working with Chris Smith and one of our great community leaders, James Morton,” said McKenna.

Morton and McKenna succeed Jill Medvedow, Ellen Matilda Poss Director of the ICA, and Rahn Dorsey, formerly chief of education for the City of Boston, both of whom will remain on the board. Under their leadership, Boston Beyond significantly increased the diversity and expertise of the Board and was designated a finalist in the MacArthur Foundation’s worldwide $100 million grant competition.

August 3, 2020

Boston Beyond’s “Summer for All” 100&Change proposal is now included in the Solutions Bank! The Solutions Bank is a searchable collection of proposed solutions submitted to social change competitions managed by Lever for Change, an affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The site currently includes over 450 proposals submitted to MacArthur’s 100&Change competition. The purpose of the Solutions Bank is to help philanthropists find and evaluate high-impact philanthropic opportunities. This, in turn, supports the missions of non-profits and other changemakers by providing recognition and assembling a network of organizations ready to accelerate social change.

Boston Beyond and the Boston Private Industry Council’s “Summer For All” proposal to create summer learning and employment for young people in Boston and other Gateway cities advanced to the top 100 solutions worldwide under consideration for the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change, a $100 million grant competition to address one of the world’s most critical social challenges. The “Summer For All” project proposes the implementation of Boston’s creation of Summer Learning across five high-poverty American cities.  Through intensive and coordinated summer learning and employment, these cities will demonstrate how to achieve equitable education. “Summer For All” holds the potential to create a new paradigm for learning, as part of a new social contract that ensures all students have opportunities to build skills and social capital during the summer. The mobilization of this project would result in skill growth for millions of students in future generations, and put them on a track for college and career readiness.

View our full proposal as part of the Lever for Change Bold Solutions Network here.

June 25, 2020

Boston Beyond and the Boston Private Industry Council’s proposal to create summer learning and employment for young people in Boston and other Gateway cities has been advanced to the top 100 solutions worldwide under consideration for the MacArthur Foundation’s 100&Change, a $100 million grant competition to address one of the world’s most critical social challenges.

The proposal, “Summer For All: A Third Semester of Work & Learning,” highlights how Boston can build on its proven summer learning and employment initiatives so that all young people benefit, regardless of their family income or home zip code. With the MacArthur grant, the effort can expand its model to Worcester, Lawrence, Springfield and New Bedford, while going even deeper to reach more students and families in Boston.

“In Boston, we are proud to lead the way in providing vital opportunities for our students to learn and grow all year long,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Research shows us that summer learning helps students develop their math, reading, and social-emotional skills, all of which are key to closing opportunity gaps. We see the benefits of this program and look forward to continuing to expand its reach to serve even more students in the future.”

See our project factsheet here.

View our full proposal as part of the Lever for Change Bold Solutions Network here.

June 2, 2020

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