Last June, Bruce and I stood on the dock with our 34 youth program staffers as we began a new season of free youth and beach programs that would connect a record breaking 30,375 young people and their families to Boston Harbor, our public beaches and the Boston Harbor Islands.
As we looked forward to the summer, we also looked back at the remarkable growth in these programs, which have served more than 160,000 low-income youth, teens and their families since we launched our Boston Harbor Explorers and All Access Boston Harbor programs 15 years ago.
We have also seen remarkable growth in the leadership, communications, and school and job readiness skills of the 20 teens we employ each summer as Junior Program Assistants (JPAs), as they master our STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) curriculum and share it with their peers.
In 2016, Save the Harbor employed a Youth Environmental Education Program staff of 34, including teachers, marine scientists, storytellers, historians, artists, and 20 Boston high school students who helped us connect more than 30,000 underserved young people to the resources we have worked so hard to restore and protect.
Unfortunately, cuts to the state budget eliminated support for Save the Harbor’s Better Beaches Program for this summer, which will force us to scale back our free programs on the region’s public beaches and in the Boston Harbor Islands. The Legislature is poised to increase funding for the program in next year's budget and we are working to make sure those funds are supported by the Administration. However, even if we are successful, those funds will not be available until late summer, if at all.
At the same time, there is always competition—particularly fierce this year—for available funds from traditional sources to support summer jobs for low-income teens across the city. We do not intend to cut back on the number of teens we employ in our programs this summer, many of whom return to our program year after year, as they complete high school and move on to face new challenges. However, we need your help to close the funding gap.
Save the Harbor/Save the Bay is proud to be the Boston Harbor Connection for the region’s young people and their families. Despite the cuts and the challenges, we are committed to “sharing the harbor” with more than 30,000 underserved and low income youth and teens from more than 100 youth development and community organizations from cities and towns across the region this year, and we need your help to do it.
Your contribution today will help us restore summer jobs for some terrific young people, so they can develop the skills they need to become the next generation of environmental stewards of these spectacular urban natural resources. It will also support our work to restore, protect and share Boston Harbor, our waterfront, the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park and the region’s public beaches from Nahant to Nantasket with the all region’s residents and visitors alike, especially underserved and low income young people and their families.
We know you care about our mission, about our beaches, our kids, our environment, and our community. We trust you understand the urgency and importance of this moment, and will consider supporting Save the Harbor as we work to protect the gains we have made from our investment in Boston’s renewed Harbor.
Each of the more than 100 Boston high school students we have employed over the past 15 years brings different experiences and skills with them to our program. We know from our conversations with them as they return to visit our office on the Fish Pier each summer that they also go in many different directions when they leave.
Some are in college or work for area businesses or the region’s corporations, while others have gone on to careers in non-profits that serve their communities. Despite these differences, they each tell us that the time they spent on Boston Harbor with the experienced educators who run our programs helped inform their decisions about college and career choices. Your help today can ensure the next generation of youth continues to benefit from these programs and opportunities.
All of us at Save the Harbor/Save the Bay want to thank you in advance for your support, which will enable us to sustain and strengthen – and not scale back – the free youth programs and events that have come to mean so much to so many young people and their families.
All the best,
Patty Foley and Bruce Berman
Save the Harbor/Save the Bay
P.S. Its easy to make a donation online. Just click here to visit our contribution page.