Moving back to Boston is not something that I anticipated happening so soon after college, if at all. But when I got a call from my mentor, and former marketing professor, about a marketing manager job opening at her company, Building Impact, I packed my room in my small apartment in West Philadelphia and made a sudden, but welcome, life transition.
The opportunity didn’t seem like a job,but instead a change in lifestyle. It is very hard to find a company whose name is directly reflective of what they do, and I jumped at the opportunity.
As a fellow part of a program called, Venture for America, I spent a year of the fellowship in a city that has a budding entrepreneurial ecosystem. Unlike many of the cities that Venture for America deploys its fellows to, Philadelphia has a considerably growing startup ecosystem, and I found much pleasure and support in that. However, just one year after I had graduated college I already felt jaded. During a summer training session at Brown University before being leaving for Philly, Andrew Yang, founder and former CEO of Venture for America said to our class, “College graduates are at their peak optimism levels directly after college.” I was, but jobs drain you, and optimism might diminish quickly after a few months on the job.
Building Impact rejuvenated my optimism and I’ve never looked back. I started on the ground running; our team has revitalized our mission statement, and our Big Idea is not only a call to action, but a lifestyle: Together, we can advance the capabilities of local nonprofits addressing critical social issues through volunteerism, and measurable impact. We hold ourselves accountable, and practice what we preach, in our representation, our messaging, and our language, and strive to do better everyday. Our launch of our new and improved website and our emerging mobile application is evidence of our growing, and holistic relationship with members of the community that we consider to be our partners.
To date, one of my favorite opportunities was the ability to speak on a panel made possible by Boston Public Schools, through Makeeba McCreary(Managing Director and Senior Advisor of External Affairs for Boston Public Schools). The panel on STEM learning in the education featured members of the community way out of my league, including Tommy Chang(Superintendent of Boston Public Schools), Paul Francisco (Chief Diversity Officer of State Street), Silver McDonald, (General Manager of LEGO Education North America), Ann Klee (Vice President of Environment, Health & Safety at GE; Boston Development and Operations; GE Foundation), Jody Rose (Executive Director at New England Venture Capital Association), Mohamad Ali (President & CEO at Carbonite), and was moderated by Boston’s first-ever Chief of Education, Rahn Dorsey. The speakers were phenomenal, and what touched me on a personal level was that the panel consisted of women, and minorities, all leaders in their field of expertise. It was a learning opportunity and a fangirl experience for myself. Even more powerful was the symbol of people of color speaking on issues affecting their communities, rather than having someone else tell their story.
During the panel, I had the opportunity to speak on Building Impact’s role in a full day of volunteerism called Tech Gives Back. The day featured the roll-out of a program called Guppy Tank, (a spin-off of the startup incubator Shark Tank) and invited tech companies, in partnership with BPS teachers and their students to simulate an app, create a elevator pitch, and through that foster excitement in what STEM learning has to offer. The unique apps that student teams from various local schools created, was visualized by students, for students, through the support of tech professionals.
By far my favorite moment in observing Guppy Tank, was when a student came up to us with his Certificate of Participation and said, “I feel honored” with complete authenticity — kids were able to visualize the possibilities that STEM has to offer, and we did it in partnership with the community. Kids were able to speak on what they wanted to create, without anyone imposing a vision on them.
A Day like Guppy Tank has an impact on the way that students can visualize their future opportunities, and Building Impact is building upon that through strategic nonprofit partnerships. These partnerships are long-term commitments made to local kids, and nonprofit members of the community. Guppy Tank is in its early stages, but has a wealth of long-term, recurring potential, and has become a personal passion of mine.
The barriers that exist within our communities in Boston, at times seem insurmountable, but more nonprofits are opening people’s eyes to critical social issues through programs and partnerships. If we do things right, these transformative connections will open our eyes to an optimistic view of the future for younger and older generations alike.