Home Youth service After two years, the Cambridge Neighborhood Service Project returns to in-person programming | News

After two years, the Cambridge Neighborhood Service Project returns to in-person programming | News


The Cambridge Neighborhood Service Project, an initiative providing opportunities for young people to collaborate on community service projects, began annual programming this month – its first in-person cycle since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic .

The program began as a collaboration between the City of Cambridge Workforce Development Office and its Cambridge Youth Programmes.

“It was created as a collaboration between these two offices to kind of marry the idea of ​​youth development and providing opportunities for young people with the idea of ​​developing career exploration and work skills,” George M. Hinds, director of youth employment at the Office of Workforce Development, said.

Jeneen Mucci, director of program quality and training for Cambridge’s youth programs, said the service component of the initiative is designed to be sustainable and impactful.

“It’s not something that’s done once and then it’s something that makes you feel good as a community service, but what is the learning that comes out of that that can trickle down to the community?” she says.

Each year, about 45 students participate in the program, Hinds said. Students are divided into several cohorts – each based in a different youth center in the city – who work separately on a team project of their choice.

According to Mucci, these projects have had a wide reach, from focusing on the cohort’s youth center to impacting residents of the greater Cambridge area.

Prior to the pandemic, Mucci said, students in a cohort at Moses Youth Center held an interactive “game of life” that sought to reflect experiences of racism and sexism that residents reported in student-led surveys. .

Attendees were assigned an identity at the event before beginning their journey, Mucci said.

“There was a table that was college and financial aid, there was a banking table, there was an area that represented the prison system,” Mucci said. “You were told how and when to interact with each of these phases, and based on your identity, that’s how you were received.”

Mucci said another cohort has recently focused on roaming the city.

“They decided their final project would be care packages and donate them to local shelters to support the homeless, she said.

For the projects organized at the youth center, the students of the neighborhood service project focused on supporting their peers.

“They set up resource libraries in the college prep youth centers to get more material that their peers could use later while they were doing their college prep work,” said said Hinds.

Mucci said that before the pandemic, the Neighborhood Service Project began a collaboration with the Design Museum Foundation to introduce students to design thinking.

The first cohort of students accepted into the program were unable to complete the internship because it was halted due to the pandemic, Mucci said. Last year, the design-focused program was held virtually.

Mucci said the neighborhood service project was originally created for 14- and 15-year-olds, but shifted to serving high school students when working with the Design Museum. Now that the collaboration is over, this year’s program is open to students aged 14 to 18.

“We appreciate and see the importance of having older teens to be able to support and mentor younger teens,” Mucci said.

Hinds said the return to in-person programming will allow the initiative to be organized in a more thoughtful way.

“We are coming out of a period where we were innovating, but in reaction to the crisis of the last two years,” Hinds said. “I’m thrilled that the staff can work in a thoughtful, non-reactionary way – putting things in place so that young people really have a great experience and have great success this spring.”

—Editor Katerina V. Corr can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @KaterinaCorr.