Boston Partners honors Mildred Avenue K-8 School and Big Cheese Reader Tom O’Brien

May 14, 2018Boston Partners in Education, a Boston-based nonprofit that matches volunteer academic mentors with at-risk Boston Public Schools students, raised over $647,000 from donors and sponsors at its 15th Annual Big Cheese Reads Gala, making it the most successful Big Cheese Reads fundraiser in the organization’s history.

The event drew 400 people to the Westin Copley Plaza on May 9. Funds were raised through sponsorships (70%), individual contributions (15%), auction/raffle proceeds (10%), and ticket sales (5%), and represent 47% of the organization’s annual fundraising goal.

Boston Partners in Education gave special recognition to the Mildred Avenue K-8 for their successful turnaround and impressive use of academic mentoring services. Principal Andrew Rollins accepted a $5,000 check for the school from Boston Partners corporate sponsor Kaestle Boos Associates.

“We envisioned a school where students felt truly connected and had positive, lasting relationships with other students and adults in the building.  We seek to build a web of support to help lift up each of our amazing students,” said Principal Rollins. “Boston Partners fits right into this vision and has helped to enable us to do just that. Academic mentors form close and lasting bonds with many of our students – bonds that help them to grow as people and as readers, writers, mathematicians, and scientists.

As part of the live auction, supporters helped send two Mildred Avenue students to the Digital Media Academy, a summer tech camp at Harvard University where kids and teens focus on STEM courses and building 21st-century skills.

Tom O’Brien, Founder of The HYM Investment Group, LLC and a Boston Partners Big Cheese Reader, was the Gala’s honoree and delivered the keynote speech, where he likened the creative spark that real estate developers have when they envision new buildings to the imagination that is ignited through reading and storytelling. “After all, the vision for our real estate projects are realized over a decade or longer,” he said.

“One of the highlights of my year is the Big Cheese Reads program. Boston Partners in Education offers an urgency of now – a call to action – to be engaged champions for the unlimited potential of every child,” O’Brien continued. “I strive to understand and imagine our great city’s intended future and seek to contribute and support Boston’s long-term opportunities. As business leaders and engaged citizens of this great city, our support of Boston Partners in Education, the Boston Public Schools, and the community of educators and professionals who lead our schools is essential and encouraged.”

Boston 25 News anchor Vanessa Welch (who is a Boston Partners Big Cheese Reader) and reporter Crystal Haynes (who volunteers weekly as an academic mentor) served as the emcees for the evening. Crystal conducted a live interview with academic mentor David Brown, a graduate of the Boston Arts Academy, where he currently mentors. David shared anecdotes from his hour-long sessions in the classroom and how meaningful it is to be a mentor of color to another young black man. Click here to watch a video featuring David and his mentee Ronnie.

This year, Boston Partners in Education has helped 627 volunteers form a special bond with nearly 4,000 students in 47 Boston Public Schools through in-class academic mentorship. Established in 1966, Boston Partners in Education was founded with a single goal: to give the children who are struggling in school the tools necessary to become better learners.

Boston Partners achieves this by mobilizing community members to serve as weekly volunteer academic mentors to K-12 students in the Boston Public Schools. For over 50 years, they have placed academic mentors directly in the classroom to help students fill gaps in their knowledge and provide them with the additional support they need to stay in school and graduate.

To learn more about how you can become involved, or support Boston Partners in Education, please visit