Mission: HSTF’s mission is to amplify the power, creativity, and voices of youth, connecting them to Afro-Latin culture and heritage so they can create a diverse, vibrant Latin Quarter and build a just, equitable Boston. We believe that communities are stronger when they create the conditions youth need to thrive. By harnessing the power, creativity, and voices of youth, we not only help them navigate the journey of adolescence but help youth become leading voices of change in their community. HSTF was founded in 1991, when a coalition of neighbors and community leaders felt a sense of urgency to address the growing violence, economic, and social challenges facing the Hyde/Jackson Square neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. Now known as Boston’s Latin Quarter, our community has transformed into a vibrant neighborhood. Despite the progress, like in other urban neighborhoods, our youth continue to struggle with high levels of poverty, community violence, and low educational attainment. HSTF now engages more than 800 children, youth, and young adults each year through our Jovenes en Accion/Youth In Action, College Success, and Creative Development and Community Engagement work.
How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Relevance?
A majority of Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) staff at all levels identifies as people of color, and almost all program staff speak Spanish. Our Executive Director, Celina Miranda, brings extensive experience in youth development and philanthropy, in addition to her experience as a Latina, immigrant, and first generation college student. Our 18-member Board of Directors is 57% Latinx and includes 4 alumni, two of whom serve as Board Vice President and Treasurer. This staff and board representation helps to ensure that our organization remains authentic and connected to the youth and community we work with.
HSTF was founded in 1991, when a coalition of neighbors and community leaders identified the urgent need to address the growing violence, economic, and social challenges facing the Hyde/Jackson Square neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. Now known as Boston’s Latin Quarter, our community has transformed into a vibrant neighborhood. Despite the progress, like in other urban neighborhoods, our youth continue to struggle with high levels of poverty, community violence, and low educational attainment. Over the years, HSTF’s signature program, Jóvenes en Acción/Youth in Action, has evolved into a high-quality and innovative approach to engaging mostly Latinx, immigrant, and first-generation college going youth to help them succeed academically, prepare for the future, and develop into leaders.
How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Impact?
HSTF recently completed a Strategic Plan and Theory of Change process and as a result, we have outlined strategic organizational goals that will guide our work over the next four years. We also articulate outputs and outcomes each year for each of our programs. These are tracked using data points on program enrollment, event attendance, participant demographic information, academic and college application data, artistic growth, and growth in soft skills such as communication, leadership, and team work. All of this data is compiled by staff in reports each session or quarter and measured against the annual stated goals. These reports are reviewed by staff leadership throughout the year to assess progress to date and potential course corrections that may be needed.
Program activities are in alignment with our annual stated outputs and outcomes across all of our Afro-Latin arts, education, and creative development and community engagement work. We are proud to share that last year, 100% of high school seniors enrolled in our signature Jóvenes en Acción/Youth in Action program graduated from high school and 96% enrolled in college, in contrast to the 70% of Boston Public Schools Class of 2015 graduates who enrolled in college (Boston Opportunity Agenda, 2018).
How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Sustainability?
We continuously work to ensure the sustainability of our Afro-Latin arts, education, and creative development and community engagement work. In addition to maintaining strong relationships with our many longstanding current supporters and identifying new institutional supporters, Executive Director Celina Miranda is working closely with our Board and senior staff to create a multi-pronged fundraising plan. To that end, over the last year HSTF has welcomed five new board members with varied experiences and backgrounds. While we are committed to maintaining a board that is representative of the youth and community we serve, we need to increase our board’s fundraising capacity. In addition, as part of our strategic plan we will work to build our individual giving program over the next four years. While we have many longtime individual donors, HSTF has not dedicated adequate time to build relationships with these donors over the years. Lastly, we anticipate that our recently-completed Strategic Plan will help us to make an even stronger case for support with new relationships with potential supporters.
EXCELLENCE IN MANAGEMENT AND OPERATIONS
How does your organization strive toward the attributes associated with Excellence in Management and Operations?
HSTF is committed to having our board, staff, and volunteers reflect our constituents. We have 15 full-time and 2 part-time staff, and an 18-member Board of Directors. As mentioned in a prior response, a majority of Hyde Square Task Force staff at all levels identifies as people of color, and almost all program staff speak Spanish. We engage close to 100 volunteers who serve as mentors and tutors on an ongoing basis, and all regular HSTF volunteers participate in an orientation session and review our volunteer manual in addition to completing a volunteer application and background check. Volunteers check in regularly with staff and also complete surveys at the end of their service to gather feedback on their experience. HSTF’s marketing and communications efforts are overseen by our full-time Director of Development and Communications and our full-time Communications Coordinator and Graphic Designer. We are currently working to update all of our organizational communications to reflect our new Strategic Plan and updated mission statement. HSTF’s Director of Finance and Facilities works with our technology consultant to monitor all of our technology, human resources, and facilities needs.
HOW DOES YOUR ORGANIZATION ENGAGE YOUNG PROFESSIONALS / EMERGING LEADERS?
HSTF engages young professionals and emerging leaders in a variety of ways. As young professionals and emerging leaders, four program alumni are part of our Board of Directors. While we are not currently recruiting new board members, there are several board committees in areas such as programs, finance, and fundraising, which are open to young professionals who might be interested in volunteering on a committee. In addition, HSTF engages close to 100 ongoing volunteers each year, most of whom work with youth on a weekly basis as tutors and mentors. Approximately 75% of these volunteers are college students or young professionals. Young professionals could also participate in college and career exploration activities with program participants as one-time career panelists. Lastly, we have many community and fundraising events throughout the year and young professional volunteers would be welcome to assist with these events.