Post 1: Working with System-Involved High School Students in Boston

This summer, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work for the H.O.P.E. (High Expectations, Opportunities, Purposeful Pathways, and Encouragement) Institute with the Boston Mayor’s Office Director of Strategic Initiatives, Janelle Ridley. This is just one of the many incredible projects for Black and Brown youth in Boston that Ridley has spearheaded.  This program, implemented by the Office of Public Safety, is still in its nascency. However, it makes a major impact on at-risk youth in the Boston area. All forty program participants are referred to us by the Boston District Attorney’s Office. This program works with youth who individually are identifying challenges and barriers that they see as stumbling blocks along their journey. Each student works both independently and collectively to bring forth solutions and strategies based on their personal circumstances. These particular youth, who are faced with challenges, traumas, and conditions, are directly effected by environmental and generational disparities and systemic oppression. This program gives disadvantaged youth a special opportunity they may not otherwise receive. 

Through this program, each student will gain both professional and academic skills, in addition to their personal development. The H.O.P.E. Institute has partnered with faculty and staff from seven Boston-area institutions (including the Heller School at Brandeis) that will create and lead workshops such as learning about the social determinants of health, ethics and morals, and community building through storytelling. 

By the end of the program, students will be given the opportunity to become research assistants and lived-expert interns with the colleges they worked with all summer. Finally, the students will receive training from the Northeastern University Center for Sport and Society in the Mentoring in Violence Prevention (MVP) Curriculum. The primary goal of the H.O.P.E. Institute and the Office of Public Safety  is to institute violence intervention and prevention programs and policies in Boston neighborhoods, and this program is starting where it can make the most impact: with the youth. They’ll be able to share what they learned and give back to their communities in an effective manner once they’ve completed the program. 

As an intern, I assist with the overall development and oversight of the program alongside my boss. I meet with the other interns, my boss, and our partners weekly to discuss plans for the program while ensuring that they meet the standards we’ve set. I also designed the podcasting project the students will conduct throughout the duration of the program. Furthermore, I assist with scheduling, planning, and coordination among all parties involved, since communication is essential to a large operation like this. Finally, I help in any way I can. For example, a project I was tasked with recently was creating an informational flyer to present to the District Attorney’s Office that could be distributed to the parents of the program participants. At the end of the day, whatever my boss needs me to do for the program, I take care of it. 

The informational flyer I created that was presented to the Boston District Attorney’s Office!

I wanted to work for this program this summer because it is making a legitimate change in the world. Even if it is on a small scale, and just in Boston, you never know what the participants of the Hope Institute will do after the program is over. They might become doctors, lawyers, Nobel Prize winners, or scientists. The possibilities are endless. What I love about this program’s mission is that it’s giving the students a chance at something bigger than their neighborhoods in Boston. I’ve quickly learned over the last few weeks that the willingness to cooperate is the first step that leads to change on a larger-scale. There are many offices, organizations, and universities that are involved in making this project successful. Every party’s full effort and desire to make a difference will undoubtedly lead to the change the program sets out to make. What does that change look like? In this particular setting, you’ll see it by the end of the summer or in a few years when the program participants are accomplishing great things in this world.

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