Project Square Lets Cambridge Students Take Charge in Community Development

Project Square Lets Cambridge Students Take Charge in Community Development

As part of our initiative in social good, we take pride in our community — by working directly with government, education, and citizens, we are able to use technology to tackle civic issues and make the community better. We take an innovative approach to solving community problems, often blending different groups to merge minds together for a broader field of mind. One of our newest neighborhood partners, innovators4purpose, does this in such a brilliant way and we are pleased to support them in their efforts.

Project Square Lets Cambridge Students Take Charge in Community Development

innovators4purpose is leading Project Square: a community development effort in Kendall Square, aiming to battle gentrification and discuss how we can make Kendall Square — and the Cambridge area as a whole — better. What makes Project Square different in its approach, though, is its main contributors: students aged eight, nine, and ten years old. The children address the city’s problems from a youth perspective, granting creative solutions to civic problems that we all face on a daily basis.

Project Square Lets Cambridge Students Take Charge in Community Development

We were able to connect with these driven students in a recent panel entitled “My Neighborhood is Changing: BE Part of the Change!”. Panel members included:

  • David Maher—Mayor of Cambridge
  • Rich Rossi—City Manager of Cambridge
  • Dennis Benzan—JD VicevMayor of Cambridge
  • Christine Elow—Deputy Superintendent Police Dept.
  • Jacquelyn Rose—Cambridge Police Department
  • Rev. Ellis Washington—St. Paul AME Church Cambridge
  • Tom Evans—Exec. Director Cambridge Redevelopment Authority
  • Renae Gray—Community Leader
  • Abe Lateiner—Community Leader
  • John Jackson—EdD Schott Foundation
  • Michelle Lower—Alexandria Real Estate
  • Cathy Wissink—Microsoft
  • Brian Burke—Microsoft
  • Russ Lynos—PhD Novartis
  • Anastacia Berzat—PhD Novartis

In this panel, rather than an adult-led discussion, we let them take the lead: a group of students would approach us with questions, which we would then explore from our “authority” standpoints. It was incredible to see such forward thinking from these students at such a young age. They all have the future of their community in mind, asking questions like:

  • How can we improve the playground at our school?
  • How can I help my mom find a job?
  • What are these buildings being built in our neighborhood?  What goes on inside them?

After this panel, we were thoroughly impressed by how driven and community-centered these students are. We look forward to their final presentations later this month and can’t wait to continue our support on this amazing venture.

Learn more about what innovators4purpose and Project Square is up to on their blog here.

To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to youth and education, visit our YouthSpark Hub or follow us on twitter at @msftcitizenship.

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