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.”

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.

A Summer of COVID — Three lessons on leadership from the most challenging summer of my life

Friday, August 13th, 2021 8:15 PM — My phone rings. On the other end is a parent in our program at Camp Harbor View. “I’m calling to let you know that I’ve tested positive for COVID-19, and my daughter will not be returning to camp”. 

The call set into motion our protocol of contact tracing and quarantine. The camper had minor symptoms and recovered quickly, and we avoided further cases on our campus in the Boston Harbor Islands. In looking back, this call represents the kind of moment so many of us have faced over these past two years — challenging us to make quick decisions, with compassion and safety in mind, and to continue serving our communities amidst difficult circumstances. 

1. How you practice and prepare is how you’ll play the game: I have always prided myself on setting up effective systems. I have learned, through trial and error, that this is so important to success in every facet of both personal and professional success. Part of this, I must acknowledge, comes from being diagnosed with a learning disability at a young age and having to build systems that worked for my different way of learning (I actually do not see it as a disability, more as a badge of honor that says it is okay to be a little different).

This summer was a completely different beast. Preparation began around the holidays, giving us a six-month runway to develop systems and structures to serve hundreds of unvaccinated people on an island in Boston Harbor. I was tasked with leading our COVID protocols (or, as my staff would say to get a laugh in, the “COVID Czar”). We spent countless hours — with our internal team and external doctors, nurses, and engineers — mapping out scenarios, from testing practices to what we would do in the event of a positive case. Our 35-page playbook was the lifesaver that led to only two positive cases all summer, with nearly 500 people coming to and from every neighborhood in the city.

On my last call with our epidemiologist, she said, “Two cases with that many people, are you kidding me?” to which I replied, “nope, we started preparing for this in January, and I’m glad it paid off.” This process served as a helpful reminder that how we prepare is how we will perform in every aspect of work and life.

2. It’s always about the one-on-one connection: I have worked with many leaders who focus on impact numbers first. I get it, it’s what we are held accountable to as leaders and managers. I remember being a 22-year-old manager at City Year, with 95% of my brain focused on the data, ensuring that our dashboard looked good quarter over quarter, year over year. I’ve changed over the years, no doubt. While I am still driven by results, my approach has evolved.

This summer was a helpful reminder that so much of our work’s success as leaders is grounded in building a foundation and developing genuine connections with the people we lead. If we do this well, we drive greater results for our organizations by creating a culture of connection that brings out the best in our people. Coming out of quarantine this summer served as a helpful reminder that we have to be intentional about this every day and in every interaction.

On a 98-degree day, one of several brutally hot days on the island this summer, I sat down for lunch with one of the young leaders in our program. With that kind of heat, you could not find a person on the island who wasn’t either frustrated or exhausted (or both!). This turned out to be the most impactful conversations that I’ve had in a very long time. We talked about everything from Kobe Bryant to the worries of being a senior in high school. We also spoke about the organization, and I asked my usual range of questions aimed at trying to understand how we are doing as an organization and where we need to be better. One line that has stuck with me from her was, “Josh, people have to feel something to be led by another person, without connection, you got nothing.”

It all starts with that one-to-one connection — and this summer in the trenches of leading through COVID, that mattered more than ever. The young people in our programs never cease to amaze me, or in this case, teach and remind me of the things that matter and make me the best version of myself.

3. People may disagree with a decision, but a lack of clarity is far more detrimental to the success of the team and the organization. On the second-to-last day of camp, we were hit with the most challenging moment of the summer (and likely of my professional life). We had a positive COVID case the prior week, the second of the summer, and we had successfully executed our contact tracing and quarantining plans.

Around 10 a.m. on the last day, the nurses paged me over the walkie. I walked into the office. “What’s up?” I said. “Two kids with symptoms, inclusive of fevers and sore throats.” “You have got to be kidding me. We made it the whole summer, and now this?”. I collected myself, of course, and thanked the team. Our leadership team quickly circled up, and I explained the situation. Looking around that room, we all knew what we had to do, the unpopular yet best decision—pull the plug on camp a day early. We scrambled to communicate and tell staff, executing all of this in about two hours.

I remember walking to the parking garage that evening and turning to my dear friend and colleague, Lisa, and saying, “Did we just ruin the summer for these kids? They didn’t get any closure”. Her response was something that I will never forget—”We may have just prevented an outbreak. We were clear and decisive, and people will look back on that knowing that we did things the right way”.

And this call also represents three lessons on leadership that became clear throughout the challenging — and wonderful — summer of 2021. I took time this fall to reflect on these key lessons.

As we look ahead to 2022, challenges no doubt will still come our way but the experiences and lessons from the summer of 2021 will last a lifetime and they have prepared us for whatever lies ahead. 

Partnering with Boston families [video]

At Camp Harbor View we believe that it takes real relationships with the entire family to fully support Boston’s next generation. In this video you’ll meet Paula and three of her kids — Lereca, Bryan, and Gyara. They’ve been part of the Camp Harbor View family for over ten years — and their story shows how powerful we can be together when we invest in Boston families.

A year after George Floyd’s murder, white leaders like me still have plenty of work to do on racial justice.

One year ago this week, people across the world stared in horror at the video of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck until he died.  For some of us, horror at this murder on video was paired with shock. For others, including many people of color I know, the video was far from shocking or surprising. It was terribly sad, but it was also far too familiar.

As the leader of an organization committed to racial equity, I have long sought to be an ally on the path to racial justice in our city and our country. But this last year has taught me that allyship isn’t enough. The word “ally” can mean a lot of things, but I have learned that it doesn’t immediately suggest action and sacrifice. I’ve heard from BIPOC friends and colleagues that how white people like myself can really help is to become accomplices — by taking substantive action, and making real sacrifices, in the pursuit of racial equity. 

My journey toward action on racial justice started late in life — I grew up in a very white community, largely unaware of the privilege that accompanied just about every breath I took — my home, my school, my vacations, and access to adults who had the time and capacity to invest in my future. In college, I started to awaken to my privilege and to the ways that the systems of power in our country upheld and exacerbated centuries-old oppression. Relationships with people of color, and my work at Camp Harbor View over the last 14 years have played a central role in my deepening understanding of systemic racism. I’ll never feel even a sliver of the pain and generational trauma that people of color feel, but I’ll also never go back to a place of ignorance. 

These days, I’m doing my best to listen and learn from BIPOC individuals of all ages. I’m deeply indebted to friends and mentors — especially Black women — who are helping me understand more about lived experience in our city and our country for people of color and other folks whose voices have been marginalized for generations. 

But I’m also committed to go beyond listening and learning. If we read the work of Dr. Ibram Kendi and Isabel Wilkerson and go back to our lives without making significant changes, we can’t call ourselves allies or accomplices. We have to act. 

So I’m committing myself to focus on five key actions for racial justice. I may never fully arrive at the destination, but I’ll work at getting better and doing more every day, and every year. And I’m calling on white people — especially those who lead organizations, teams, and companies — to join me. 

Five ways white leaders can take action for racial justice: 

  1. Listen — The first step to good listening is showing up. Be present for everyone in your life, and especially people whose voices have traditionally been marginalized. If you build trust and invest in relationships, people will tell you what they’re feeling and you can start to find places where you might be able to partner.
  2. Know when to speak up and when to step back — Most white leaders, myself included, would probably do well to talk less. Center the voices of Black women and other BIPOC folks in the rooms where decisions get made. But I’m not giving you a pass to stay quiet, either. You have power, use it by speaking up and using your platform to advance systemic changes that bring about equity. Finding the balance isn’t easy. I’m sure I often get it wrong, but I’m committed to keep trying. (And I’m lucky to have at least a few relationships where BIPOC folks tell me when they need me to lead, when they need me to follow, and when I should step aside).
  3. Hire, promote, and trust people of color For the white folks out there who run organizations, I urge you to hire more people of color. Boston is 53% people of color. Is your leadership team more than half people of color? We’re not there yet at Camp Harbor View, but we’re committed to working on it. If you’re thinking the problem is a pipeline of talent, you’re either not recruiting in the right places or you haven’t built the trust for people to want to work for you.
  4. Give something up — If we are truly invested in pursuing racial equity, we must be willing to give up some of the power we have. Think of it this way, do you want your legacy to be that you held power throughout your career and life or that you made a significant (and selfless) contribution to a more equitable Boston?
  5. Commit to accountability — Make a plan for what you’d like to accomplish and share it with someone. It might be a friend or colleague. Or — even better — maybe you’ll publish the plan for your organization on your website. For me, writing this post is a step on that path. I’m committed to moving forward on these steps every week, and I’m putting this out there so you’ll hold me accountable.

Are you ready to join me in this work?

Committing to true learning and action means being vulnerable. I have put my foot in my mouth more than once in conversations about racial justice — it doesn’t feel great, but in retrospect I’m usually proud that I tried, that I spoke up and used my platform. (Sometimes I look back and wish I had just shut up and let BIPOC folks speak)

I’m writing today not to pat myself on the back for trying to be “woke” or for being “on a journey.” I’m doing it because if white leaders like me don’t make a commitment to take real action, we’ll fail to move the needle on racial justice — even a little bit — in our lifetimes. We have a real opportunity right now. The Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 were the largest demonstrations in American history. Cities, states, and the federal government are passing significant reforms to protect Black lives and create more equity for BIPOC folks. Some corporations and nonprofits are making real systemic changes that will impact thousands of lives (others are getting better at window dressing). 

I’m ready to keep working on this. It’s a matter of life and death for my friends, my community, and for me. Are you with me?