This summer we were proud to host three high school interns from the John Hancock MLK Scholars Program. The goal of their internship was to support Boston Partners in Education with community outreach and volunteer recruitment. All three Scholars attend Boston Public Schools and live in the South End, Upham’s Corner, and Ashmont, representing just a few of the many neighborhoods Boston Partners serves. Through workshops, meetings, and hands-on projects in and out of the office, the Scholars gained an in-depth understanding about nonprofit operations in Boston and the education sector.

Hear more about the MLK Scholars Program from their own words:

A MLK Scholar Experience at Boston Partners in Education: Dress to Impress
By Victoria Del Valle

I never realized how deprived my wardrobe was of  “professional” clothing until I started my internship at Boston Partners in Education. The mid-July heat clinging to me, which was never willing to let go, the fierce blow of cool air smacking you as soon as you enter the office building, and the possibility of heavy and windy rain showers everyday, made deciding what a wear an everyday struggle. For the past month, I haven’t worn sneakers. This place has literally led me to stepping out of my comfort zone.

You know those people who try to promote events or organizations by handing out flyers on the street? Yeah – the people you try to avoid. Well, I got to be one of those people. The other interns and I did community outreach in Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan. All of these places we were familiar with. Our goal was to encourage more people of color from these communities to be academic mentors for Boston Public Schools students. We went around to different community centers, businesses, organizations, and places of worship and asked if we could hang a flyer up in order to promote this opportunity.

The idea of approaching busy strangers and asking them for a favor did not sit well with me. I try my best to attract as little attention as possible and, therefore, I tried as long as I could to stall my participation. After six days of outreach, two hours each, I’m glad I got to do it. The responses we got were nothing but positive. It felt super satisfying when the people we talked to were interested in participating or helping us spread the word. It was even more satisfying to know that people from these communities already signed up because they saw the flyers we posted. The simple exchange of dialogue between strangers can make a huge difference.  

This internship has made me more comfortable with just having conversations with other people. This skill of communication is useful to master because relationships and connections made from it can have a huge impact on your life. Even if the conversation starter is a simple question like, “Do you know what the weather is looking like today?”

Running Around the Community
By Rayan Ahmed

On July 5, 2017, I walked into the Boston Partners office with Nike Huaraches, khaki shorts, and a white polo shirt thinking that it was business casual. Well, I was very wrong about that. For the first week we went over rules and how the office worked; we also had a building tour because we did not have access to all floors. JSI, a for-profit health organization, rents and works in most of the building’s floors. Since JSI lets Boston Partners in Education share space on the building’s 2nd floor, we had to follow their dress code… I was breaking every rule in the dress code.

So the next day I walk in with black jeans, dress shoes, and a white button up. I looked very business-y. 

By the second week of working here, we had to know everyone who worked at the office. Victoria, Kari, and I had to meet all the members of the team, so we basically had a week of meet-and-greets. That wasn’t that great but it was nice meeting everyone and learning who did what.

Soon we started our first project and that was creating an elevator pitch. Every person had to make their own elevator pitch because if someone were to ask, “Oh what do you do in Boston Partners in Education?” or “What is Boston Partners in Education” while you are on the elevator, you needed to know what to say. You would only have around 20-30 seconds to talk about it. From there we practiced and practiced until we went out to Mattapan and walked up to as many strangers and stores as we could to deliver our Boston Partners pitch.

The main goal for the summer was to go out to communities, spread the word, and try to recruit new volunteers for the upcoming school year. This is what we did the most over the summer and for Boston Partners in Education. We were making community maps and mapping out information and going out to Dorchester, Mattapan, Hyde Park, and Roxbury. And we did just that. Boston Partners in Education gave me a great and valuable experience about how life in an office is. I really enjoyed interning here and hope to stay in touch with this great organization.

A Summer of Projects
By Takari Bozeman

Hi, my name is Takari but I’d preferred to be called Kari. I’m a 16 year-old high school student who attends Boston Arts Academy as a rising sophomore in arts major. I’ve been interning with Boston Partners in Education for the MLK Scholars program this summer which was a pretty good experience.

That’s where I met Victoria and Rayan. Working together at first was kind of different for me, but close to the end it got better. Together we were given four projects to complete in seven weeks and we worked our hardest to be successful and learned many things. The projects were: branding in schools, community mapping, corporate giving and event planning.

For the first project we had to understand what the word “branding” meant to Boston Partners. Then we had to make a graphic organizer or a blueprint for branding in our schools which was pretty easy since we attend those schools and know more about them. The second project we were asked to complete was community mapping, which was hard but exciting.

We created maps on Google and marked down places in those four communities that are most populated with people of color. Those areas were Hyde Park, Mattapan, Dorchester, and Roxbury. We needed to help recruit more academic mentors for BPS students. Another part of this specific project was going out in the community to do outreach.

In Dorchester we distributed 100+ flyers and reached 51 locations. For Mattapan/Hyde Park we also distributed 100+ flyers and reached 41 places. And lastly in Roxbury, 11 places were reached and 31+ flyers were handed out. From two of these areas we received connections and possible volunteers right away.

The last two projects we completed were corporate giving and event planning, which seemed easy but not entirely. Corporate giving was focused on professional phone calls where we made scripts, but also we had to do research on other non-profits. Event planning was a breakdown of how to create and plan events. We successfully organized a recruitment event with Chill on Park in Fields Corner, Dorchester on August 16th, 2017. Working with Boston Partners in Education has been great and I hope to come back next year.