Call to Action: Space to Educate our Students
As we enter Fall 2020, the YMCA of Greater Boston is stepping up to meet the challenge
In the virtual summer program, students grappled with real-world issues, including affordable housing, heritage buildings and job creation and were encouraged to consider a career in the land use profession
Caribbean Integration Community Development (CICD) was awarded a grant by Massachusetts General Hospital‘s Center for Community Health Improvement and MassHousing to run a virtual summer employment program for Boston youth. Both organizations have been longstanding participants in the Mayor’s Youth Summer Jobs Program in Boston¬– but this year, the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated creative new approaches to providing young people with learning and earning opportunities over the summer break.
CICD’s mission is to foster economic growth, build thriving neighborhoods, and enhance the economic and social well-being of the Caribbean community of Mattapan and Greater Boston. In pursuit of this goal, CICD introduced 12 Boston young people to the impact that land use decisions can have on their communities through this year’s new virtual summer program, called UrbanPlan. With the help of Bedford High School teacher Rich Donnelly, the virtual UrbanPlan program lasted 2 weeks and introduced the students to the various roles of a real estate professional. Students were employed for 25 hours a week for five weeks. The program was intended to provide insight into the development process and potentially spark an interest in a career in the land use profession. Participants were exposed to the tradeoffs involved in land use and real estate development and how land use professionals strive to create projects that meet the needs of the community, the municipality, as well as providing a return for their investors. Working in groups, students created a neighborhood redevelopment project for a fictitious city, considering real-world issues including affordable housing, heritage buildings and job creation, as well as parking and height requirements and community input.
Program participant and college freshman, Berlinda ZiZi, says of her experience: “Almost every day, we would learn more about commercial real estate and how important it is for a neighborhood to strive. Because of Urban Plan, I decided to change my major to Business and Finance, so that I can learn more about commercial real estate and find ways to help those in need.”
Students also received mentorship during the five weeks from land use professionals, exposing them to various disciplines in the industry, including architecture, finance, real estate development, planning, and community engagement. Students graduated from the program with new skills and meaningful employment experience to include on their resume for future opportunities.
UrbanPlan was managed in collaboration with the Boston District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) a non-profit educational and research member organization comprised of land use and real estate professionals. Throughout the program, ULI members graciously offered their time to speak with the students regarding their current roles in real estate to shed a light on what a real estate professional’s career path might look like.
About Caribbean Integration Community Development
CICD invests in Mattapan’s long-term success. We believe in the importance of supporting low-income residents in staying in their community and for members of the Caribbean diaspora to have the opportunity to integrate into their neighborhoods. In partnership with local organizations, CICD explores affordable housing solutions and offers support and resources that are culturally sensitive through programming for professional development, workforce training, and community engagement.