Making racial equity real, together

We talk a lot about racial equity at CHV. And it’s a term we hear all the time—it shows up in the work we do, the media we consume, the news we watch, and sometimes even at the dinner table. But what does it truly mean? And how can we make real progress towards that goal?

We’re proud of the impact our programs have in Boston, but we know we don’t have all of the answers. Far from it.

So we recently posed a big question to the people of Boston — and we plastered it on billboards and across social media. “How can we make racial equity real?”

And you responded! Not only did you respond, but you embarked on deep, meaningful discussions with those around you. We appreciated seeing so many diverse perspectives from our community — here are a few of the thoughtful answers we got:

“Learn together about how to talk to each other about racism and the history of racism in Boston.” — Giselle F.

“Build and provide access to affordable, fresh nutrient filled food in EVERY Boston community.” — Sandra K.

“We need to make sure every civic and business investment we make has racial, social, and environmental equity at its core.” — Matt K.

This is a city (and a country) with a complicated, troubling racial history. We aren’t going to reach equity overnight. But if we take concrete steps together we can keep moving in the right direction. We’re here for it. Are you with us?

New partnership with Biogen Foundation helps address social determinants of health for Boston teens and families

Camp Harbor View announced a new three-year partnership with Biogen and the Biogen Foundation to promote the wellbeing of more than 200 Boston families by helping address social determinants of health through increased food security, more equitable access to clinical mental health resources, post-secondary education, and career development pathways.

The Biogen Foundation’s support will bolster Camp Harbor View’s Family Health Initiative, a holistic approach to youth development that empowers Boston’s next generation leaders and furthers positive economic, social and health outcomes. This funding will make it possible for Camp Harbor View to connect teens and their families to greater food security, one-to-one clinical health services, social-emotional learning, and skill building and career development opportunities. As part of this relationship, participants also have the opportunity to explore the field of life sciences by visiting Biogen’s CoLab, a community space offering life science training from employees and leading local educators. The Biogen Foundation’s commitment will also establish and fund annual Biogen Scholars, awarding three graduating high school seniors with $40,000 scholarships to pursue their post-secondary plans.

“We are grateful for Biogen’s leadership on key health equity initiatives. Social emotional learning, clinical support, and food security are essential wraparound support that promote economic and social mobility,” Camp Harbor View CEO Sharon McNally said. “Partnering with, and trusting in, Boston families, this is a meaningful investment in the next generation.”

“Biogen believes that everyone deserves access to a supportive ecosystem that enables them to live the healthiest, fullest life possible,” Biogen Vice President of Asset Development and Portfolio Management and the Chair of the Biogen Foundation’s Board of Directors Teresa Cachero said. “This partnership with Camp Harbor View reflects our credo of caring deeply, and it will enable us to provide assistance in many aspects of a family’s life, from social to health.”

The partnership, inclusive of Biogen sponsorship for events, will total $500,000.

About Camp Harbor View: Established in 2007, Camp Harbor View (CHV) is a youth-centered, multi-service organization with year-round programs that address the long-term wellbeing and economic mobility of underserved Boston youth and their families. Our shared vision is an inclusive, equitable Boston where every young person and family has the opportunity and resources to succeed. To pursue this vision, we offer free, high-quality summer camp and year-round programs, nurturing deep relationships and empowering a thriving community of future leaders and their families. Additional information is available at

About Biogen Foundation: Established in 2002, the Biogen Foundation seeks to advance better health by collaborating with high-impact partners in local communities. Through the Foundation, we strive to make an impact beyond our medicines, focusing our grantmaking on equitable access to healthcare by strengthening health systems and providing access to nutritious food, a critical social determinant of health. For more information, please visit:

There’s no equity without all of us

Have you seen CHV’s new billboards around town? Well, now you’ve at least seen a photo of them right here. I am somebody who likes to speak my mind, and I am so proud to be part of an organization where we say the important stuff out loud.

Our new billboards around Boston are aiming to amplify and continue conversations that many of you are having around this city. What does racial equity look like, really? How do we go beyond a ‘level playing field’ and all of the other platitudes we hear all the time, and make true, lasting progress toward a Boston where we see equitable outcomes for all. Where the color of your skin or the neighborhood you live in don’t dictate your opportunities (or your health, or your safety, or your housing… you get the idea). 

We’re quite proud of what we’re building at Camp Harbor View — our free summer day camp is heading into its 17th summer, our year-round Leadership Academy is thriving, and our Guaranteed Income Program is accelerating economic mobility for families with cash payments. But of course we don’t have all the answers, and we can’t do it alone. 

So we’re putting out the call — we want to know what your ideas are for a more equitable Boston.

We’re so grateful to this community for all of the support of CHV’s teens and families, and to everyone working hard to pursue breakthroughs for equity in Boston.

Let’s keep going, together.

CHV’s Guaranteed Income pilot project is having a transformative impact for Boston families

New data released this week by Camp Harbor View show that direct cash payments to Boston families are having a transformative impact on nearly every aspect of their lives. 

The Boston Globe covered the new data in an article on Nov. 8th — read it here.

It has been just over a year since two nonprofits, Camp Harbor View and UpTogether, teamed up to launch a privately funded $800,000 guaranteed income pilot program. The program provides 50 Boston households $7,000/year for two years, distributed in monthly payments of $583. These families are able to use the funds however they choose and do not need to pay it back.

Evaluations of survey data from the first year of the program provides strong evidence that cash payments to families helps them relieve economic stress, achieve stability, and invest in growth. The pilot also tracks a group of families who are not receiving funds in order to understand the qualitative and quantitative impact of the pilot. 

Initial data show that:

  • Families receiving the payments are 40% less likely to have unmet household needs than the group not receiving payments (eg. child care, heating costs, or dental care)
  • During the first year of the pilot, families receiving payments reduced their risk of distress by 23%, while families not receiving payments had an 11% decrease.

Families receiving payments are more likely to…

  • Be able to pay bills
  • Save money consistently
  • Have over a month’s worth of income saved for an emergency
  • Pay for household needs like transportation, groceries, and childcare

Tierra Lyons, a parent in the program, said joining the program was a “no brainer” and that the monthly income has helped to stabilize her family’s finances and allowed her to save toward a down payment for a house.

“I had just never experienced this level of radical generosity. Now I can put all of my time, my energy, my resources into just supporting my family because I know that I’m supported as a parent,” Lyons said.

Camp Harbor View Executive Vice President Lisa Fortenberry said the early results are very encouraging — but not surprising.

“It’s an idea that seems too obvious to be as groundbreaking as it is,” said Camp Harbor View Executive Vice President Lisa Fortenberry. “People know what they need to support a healthy family, and with trust and partnership, they can make changes that lead to better physical and mental health, better housing, and education and career paths.”

Jan 2024 update: For numbers and insights from two-year pilot, see our full report on Direct Cash for a Better Boston.

Ready to Run campaign launches across Greater Boston

Today, we’re proud to launch a campaign called “Ready to Run” featuring young people from our programs on billboards and on video screens across the city of Boston and suburbs.

Highlighting CHV’s partnership with Boston teens and families, the campaign will feature on two billboards on the Southeast Expressway (I-93), at Boston Logan Airport, across other transportation hubs and shopping centers across the metro area along with digital media.

Photo of a digital Camp Harbor View billboard on route 93 in Boston that says "WE'RE READY TO LIFT UP THIS TOWN" with an image of one teen helping another on the ropes course on the summer camp island.

We’re also launching a new short video about our work — including summer camp, the Leadership Academy, and our partnerships with families on guaranteed income and economic mobility.

Our goal with this campaign is to introduce Camp Harbor View to a new generation of Bostonians and raise awareness across Greater Boston about the impact CHV is having every single day. Like the billboards say, these young leaders are ready to run this town — and we’re ready to do everything we can to make that happen.

Camp Harbor View awarded $1 million grant from Cummings Foundation

Boston, MA – Camp Harbor View is proud to be one of 140 local nonprofits to receive an annual grant through Cummings Foundation’s $25 Million Grant Program. CHV, a Boston-based organization, was chosen through a competitive review process, with a total of 580 applicants. Camp Harbor View will receive $1,000,000 over 10 years.

“Through Guaranteed Income we are investing more deeply in Boston families with whom we partner and this substantial commitment will be transformative as we work to promote social and economic mobility and long-term financial sustainability,” said Camp Harbor View Executive Director Lisa Fortenberry. “With this grant, Cummings Foundation is demonstrating their commitment to equity and opportunity for every Bostonian. We’re very grateful for their confidence and conviction in this important work.”

The Cummings $25 Million Grant Program supports Massachusetts nonprofits that are based in and primarily serve Middlesex, Essex, and Suffolk counties.

Through this place-based initiative, Cummings Foundation aims to give back in the areas where it owns commercial property. Its buildings are all managed, at no cost to the Foundation, by its affiliate, Cummings Properties. This Woburn-based commercial real estate firm leases and manages 11 million square feet of debt-free space, the majority of which exclusively benefits the Foundation.

“We are so fortunate in greater Boston to have such effective nonprofits, plus a wealth of talented, dedicated professionals and volunteers to run them,” said Cummings Foundation Executive Director Joyce Vyriotes. “We are indebted to them for the work they do each day to provide for basic needs, break down barriers to education and health resources, and work toward a more equitable society.” 

The complete list of 140 grant winners, plus more than 900 previous recipients, is available at Foundation has now awarded more than $375 million to greater Boston nonprofits. 

Paige, a CHV group leader, enjoys some hugs and laughs from her campers.
CHV Deputy Director Josh Waxman laughing with one of more than 200 year-round Leadership Academy participants.

About Camp Harbor View: Partnering with 1,000+ young Bostonians and their families each year, Camp Harbor View offers a one-of-a-kind summer camp for kids in grades 6-9, year-round leadership development for teens in grades 9-12, and comprehensive family services, including college and career planning, scholarships, and clinical support — all at no cost to families. 
About Cummings Foundation: Woburn-based Cummings Foundation, Inc. was established in 1986 by Joyce and Bill Cummings and has grown to be one of the largest private foundations in New England. The Foundation directly operates its own charitable subsidiaries, including New Horizons retirement communities, in Marlborough and Woburn, and Cummings Health Sciences, LLC. Additional information is available at

A Statement on the Tragedies in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, TX

To say we are heartbroken and angry today is an understatement. We are crushed. And we are furious.

Firearms are now the leading cause of death for American youth. That is simply unacceptable.

We are still reeling from the Buffalo murders on May 14th, where a shooter influenced by hateful right-wing propaganda specifically targeted and killed Black people. We’re devastated by the news from Uvalde, Texas, yesterday, where one man killed 19 children and two adults at an elementary school. There have been 118 gun deaths each day in the U.S. this year. That’s an epidemic, and it must be stopped.

It’s ok to sit with your grief and anger today. It’s ok to feel despondent. And if you or young people in your life are looking for community at this difficult time, we’re here. Community is at the heart of what we do. And in community is where we all need to be in these impossible moments. To process our grief, to speak about our collective fear, to feel our shared anger. Together is where we need to be to protect our children, our communities of color.

Our team at Camp Harbor View always delivers a message to young people that we are here when they need us – to process and be in community. Our social work team is always ready to provide support, and the young activists in our Digital Leadership program are speaking out about gun safety reform and mental health awareness.

We will continue to dedicate ourselves to creating places for communities to learn and thrive without fear. This month’s tragedies are a reminder to hold each other close and commit to building a more peaceful, more equitable world. 

Camp Harbor View joins national movement, launches guaranteed income pilot with UpTogether

50 Families will receive $7,000 per year for two years

Boston, MA – A group of Boston families are the newest champions for the impact of direct cash investments on social and economic mobility. Camp Harbor View recently launched a near $800,000 guaranteed income pilot, in partnership with anti-poverty nonprofit UpTogether, that provides 50 Boston households $7,000 each year for two years. These families are able to use the funds however they choose and do not need to pay it back.

After just five months, families are reporting greater overall financial stability. A participating parent, who wished to remain anonymous, says the program is having transformative effects on her physical and mental wellbeing as well as her financial stability.

“As a single mom, I have worked two jobs for the last six years to make ends meet. With the GI grant, I have been able to focus on my full-time job,” she said. “The time I’ve gained back has improved my focus, given me more time with my children, and allowed me to participate in professional development, which led to a promotion.”

Rooted locally, Camp Harbor View is committed to addressing the pervasive racial and economic opportunity gaps that exist in Boston.

“This pilot is about trusting and empowering families,” Camp Harbor View Chairman Jack Connors, Jr said. “I believe this will prove to be an innovative and necessary approach to partnering with families, ensuring that economic mobility is possible in our city.”

Each of the 50 enrolled families receives $583 in unrestricted cash monthly for the duration of the 24-month pilot. The participants were asked to set at least one financial goal at the start of the pilot and then they are given surveys quarterly—along with a small group of families who are not receiving funds—to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. To measure the efficacy of this two-year pilot, Camp Harbor View engaged an experienced independent evaluator to collect data and study outcomes.

The results from the pilot will have an impact beyond Boston.  In partnership with the Economic Security Project, the Camp Harbor View learnings will be part of a growing body of national research on guaranteed income programs.           

“As someone who lived in Boston for 17 years, and still loves the city, I am beyond excited to see the impact this pilot will have on families here,” said UpTogether CEO Jesús Gerena.  “At UpTogether, we know it’s not just about the impact of unrestricted cash investments on individual households, but most importantly, the exponential impact those dollars will have on entire communities.”


About Camp Harbor View: Camp Harbor View works with 1,000+ young Bostonians and their families each year offering a one-of-a-kind summer camp for kids in grades 6-8, year-round leadership development for teens in grades 9-12, and comprehensive family services, including college and career planning, scholarships, clinical support, and food access — all at no cost to families.

About UpTogether: UpTogether is a community, a movement, and a platform that highlights, accelerates, and invests in the initiative people in financially under-resourced communities are taking to improve their lives and move up, together. Using compelling data and personal success stories to transform stereotypes, beliefs, and policies, UpTogether champions the effort to boost long-term economic mobility in communities that have been under-served for far too long.


Making the season bright [video]

From Thanksgiving dinner to gifts at the holidays, this annual tradition seeks to alleviate family stress and bring kids joy. It’s one of our most meaningful programs for families and donors alike, with both experiencing the generosity of spirit in the holiday season.

Take a look at this heartwarming video to see the Camp Harbor View community’s holiday celebrations with over 400 families from start to finish.

Thanks to the generous support of hundreds of donors, partners, and volunteers, we doubled the number of families reached this year, distributing $101,800 in gift cards for parents to use to purchase their children items on their wishlist, bins with household essentials, and festive holiday supplies. Happy Holidays for all of us at Camp Harbor View!

A guaranteed income program for a stronger Boston

In August of 2021, Camp Harbor View proudly partnered with UpTogether to launch a two-year guaranteed income pilot with 50 Boston families. The $735,000 program, which provides no-strings attached payments of $583 per family each month, is one of the largest funded by a community-based organization nationwide. 

A decade’s worth of peer-reviewed evidence shows that guaranteed income is a uniquely powerful tool in supporting families as they achieve upward economic mobility. This pilot program seeks to improve families’ emotional and physical health — as well as their economic security — by pairing direct income with community connections and resources. 

“Guaranteed income is a transformative tool to promote social and economic mobility and long-term financial sustainability. We are excited to partner with 50 Boston families in this pilot, while also contributing to the growing body of research nationally about guaranteed income,” Lisa Fortenberry, Executive Director of Camp Harbor View said. 

Camp Harbor View’s partnership with UpTogether — a national nonprofit that highlights, invests in, and accelerates the initiatives people in historically under-resourced communities are taking to improve their lives and move up, together — began in 2019.  The next year, the two organizations launched a Covid-19 relief fund that offered families emergency funds via direct transfer.  Over the past two decades, UpTogether has invested more than $135 million in guaranteed income payments to households in all 50 states, nurtured deep community connections, and proved that this strength-based approach can be a catalyst to drive long-term economic and social mobility. 

This pilot program runs through mid-2023, and the Camp Harbor View and UpTogether teams are working closely with families each week as they build community, listen, learn, and support one another. 

The Camp Harbor View team is excited to share more updates and to work with other partners in Boston to invest more deeply in the families that will be the future of our city.  If you’d like to discuss, please reach out to our team.