The only thing louder than the music was the cupcakes. On Thursday, June 6, the halls of Microsoft’s NERD Center were zapped with the energy of over 80 young people, gathered together to laud each other’s accomplishments, consume neon frosted baked goods and prove to anyone watching that the next generation has community on top of mind.
It was the annual Youth Venture Celebration, presented by United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, an event designed to herald the achievements of the next wave of social entrepreneurs. Microsoft’s support of youth and innovation made it the perfect venue for the celebration.
“Every time I attend one of these events, I’m hit with the same feeling: amazement,” said Michael Durkin, President and CEO of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “The ingenuity, professionalism and boundless energy of these young people represents a glimpse into what our future holds, and we are proud that our Youth Venture program and volunteers have helped them tap into what’s possible, for themselves and their communities.”
Now in its sixth year, Youth Venture provides grants to teams of middle and high school students throughout United Way’s footprint to embark on their own community investments. Whatever issues moves them, whatever vision grabs them, that’s what their venture becomes. The 2013 edition featured 41 teams of youth, hailing from as far south as Dorchester and as far north as Lawrence.
It all came together at the Celebration, where the teams showed off their projects, from a community garden initiative designed to mitigate gang activity in Roxbury to the youth-produced, issue-driven public access show in Cambridge. The ventures were varied and unique, but all held one thing in common: they were designed to make the world a better place.
“We want to take out the scare of difference from our city,” said Leo, a member of the Lynn Youth Council, which will be putting on a unity festival later in the summer. “We want to unite everybody so we know who we are and where we are in the same community.”
Guest Post Written by David Johnson, Director of Marketing and Communications of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley