Inner City Weightlifting

InnerCity Weightlifting reduces community violence by connecting victims of trauma and racial segregation to new opportunities, including meaningful career tracks in and beyond personal training.

 We use the gym to replace segregation and isolation with economic mobility and social inclusion, disrupting the system that leads to urban street violence.

The Problem

In Boston, more than 70% of violent crime occurs less than 5% of the city, and less than 1% of young people drive more than 50% of gun violence.

The Solution

At ICW, we find space to connect with our students and then build a place - the gym - to deepen relationships, broaden community and create hope for alternative paths that don’t end in death or jail. We then leverage our in-house career track in personal training to create economic mobility, as students can earn $20-$60/hour training our clients – people coming from opposite socio-economic backgrounds; perhaps more important we bridge social capital and create a genuine form of inclusion that disrupts the system of segregation, isolation, and systemic racism that leads to the streets. We create impact through our 4-stage model: trust; hope; social capital; economic mobility. Weight training weaves the stages together. It gives us purpose and a reason to reach out to our students, to start a conversation whereby listening and helping to solve fundamental challenges such as getting an ID, providing safe transportation, we earn trust. It gives us a place to grow relationships and create hope, and personal training forms a community and network to bridge social capital and create economic mobility. Whereas our students’ 6-month outlook on life starts with death or jail, it shifts to pursuing an education, finding a meaningful career, and enjoying a future that wasn’t always guaranteed.

Planned Use Of Funds

While most of our revenue comes from foundations, we have placed increased emphasis on corporate philanthropic support as well. Our expansion to Kendall Square was directly tied into this strategy. The new site presented an incredible opportunity for our students, our organization, and our financial sustainability. It helped us form relationships with Google, Microsoft, Accomplice Ventures, InsightSquared, Broad Institute, Intrepid Labs, VMWare, Biogen Idec, and many more. Our next proposed site, in either the Seaport or North Station areas, will not only help provide increased jobs for our students, but also an increased pipeline for corporate philanthropic support. We are able to build these relationships by starting with a service to offer – corporate training. By hiring us, not only does a company provide great workouts for their employees as part of a health and wellness benefit, but they also get to give back to the community at the same time. As we build relationships with employees, they help cement the relationship with the company and secure support, both through our services and philanthropy.

Geographic Focus


Why this project?

Most of our students have been shot, nearly all have done significant jail time and come from family incomes of less than $10K. Their 6-month outlook on life, is often death or jail. Education, careers, while anyone wants these, they don’t matter if there’s no belief in a future. Our work starts by earning trust and creating hope.

Stage of Development

  • Early Stage
  • Established Prototype
  • Scaling
  • Other

Track Record/Evidence

"track record" content here

Find Out More