HYDE SQ.—The staff of the Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) got a big surprise March 27. Representatives of the Boston Foundation showed up at their weekly meeting with a check for $75,000—and lunch, too.
The HSTF, a non-profit organization serving youths in JP and Roxbury, got the check as a special “Out of the Blue” grant—an “unsolicited, one-time grant made to exemplary organizations that have demonstrated a high level of achievement as community leaders, offering outstanding service, and amassed a solid record of accomplishment,” according to a written statement.
The HSTF was selected because of the “innovative nature of its programming, which offers a wide array of efforts related to community organizing, public policy and advocacy efforts, as well for the impact it has on young people in the city,” the Boston Foundation statement said.
“The Hyde Square Task Force is an extraordinary organization and deserving of wider recognition,” said Paul Grogan, president and CEO of the foundation.
“It was really nice to be recognized as a team. We are very much a team,” Executive Director Claudio Martinez said this week in an inter-view, adding that, usually, specific programs or individuals in the organization get awards.
JP resident and former Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council Chair Nelson Arroyo, who chairs the HSTF board, received a $30,000 Neighborhood Fellows Program grant—an unrestricted personal cash award sponsored by an anonymous donor—from The Philanthropic Initiative just last month for his work with the HSTF.
HSTF has 18 full-time staff members, 13 part-timers and 80 teens who work there in leadership programs.
Martinez said the next step is for the organization to decide how to use the no-progamming-strings-attached funding. “We have been con-cerned about continuing the high level of youth programming at this critical time, especially during the summer,” he said.
The Boston Foundation and Hyams Foundation were the funders of the first youth programming HSTF provided in 1993, Martinez said as he described a photo of those youths that hangs on his office wall.
Some of the specific achievements by the Task Force cited in the awarding of the Out of the Blue grant were: winning approval for a youth and family center in Jackson Square through a youth-led campaign; gaining official approval for a youth-proposed civics curriculum in Boston high schools; opening a fully equipped youth computer lab, dance and music studios in Hyde Square; and winning a national Coming Up Taller Award for excellence in youth development through arts.
The Boston Foundation award was also intended as recognition of the “exceptional leadership” offered by Martinez who also serves as a member of the Boston Public School Committee, the statement said. He is a board member of the Home for Little Wanderers, on the advisory board of the Boston Housing Authority, the Children’s Hospital Community Advisory Board and the Boston Foundation, among other advisory affilia-tions.
The Foundation awards four Out of the Blue grants each year, announced individually at the same time as its quarterly grants, in March, June, September and December.
The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the oldest and largest community foundations in the nation, with assets of $763 million. In Fiscal Year 2008, the foundation and its donors made close to $79 million in grants to non-profit organizations and received gifts of $113 million. For more information about the Boston Foundation, visit www.tbf.org or call 338-1700. For more information about HSTF, see www.hydesquare.org.