Meet the 2016 Excellence Award Finalists: Collaboration

Every year, MNN honors the dedication, passion, and impact of nonprofit organizations and leaders through the Nonprofit Excellence Awards. This year, our panel of judges reviewed over 200 nominations that highlighted the incredible impact of nonprofits from every sub-sector and corner of the state. Now, it’s time to meet the finalists for Collaboration.

Help celebrate these amazing nonprofits and be there when the winners are announced! Register now for Nonprofit Awareness Day, June 27 at the State House, presented by Citizens Bank.

The Excellence Award in Collaboration recognizes the lead organization that was the catalyst for an effort by two or more nonprofit organizations. These organizations partnered to address a compelling problem that could not have been solved as effectively by a single organization. The nonprofits below effectively defined roles, allocated combined resources, utilized efficient communication, and implemented a clear process for accountability to achieve meaningful and measurable outcomes. The finalists for the Excellence Award in Collaboration are:

ArtWeek (Citi Performing Arts Center)

In 2013, the Wang and Shubert Theatres joined forces to create ArtWeek Boston, a biannual multidisciplinary creative festival that serves as proof that art is being redefined; it’s becoming more diverse, broad-based, and culturally informed. ArtWeek presents the opportunity to think about collaboration, innovation, and the development of new ideas, while also making it affordable—90% of programs are free or under $25. In three years, this program has developed partnerships in 45+ neighborhoods in and around Boston, engaged 500+ event hosts, and created an expansive network of media and community partners. They attract 50-80,000 attendees each season; 49% who claim to have been introduced to a new artist or organization and 57% who explored a new neighborhood. 


BELL in Action

BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life)

Since it’s founding, BELL’s mission has been to transform the academic achievements, self-confidence, and life trajectories of children living in under-resourced communities by offering educational summer and after-school programs for K-8th grade children and youth performing below grade level. In 2013, to address an academic achievement gap caused by summer learning loss, BELL and Y-USA banded together to increase access to high-quality summer learning opportunities among youth who need it the most. Central to this collaboration were the two organization’s shared values and belief that every community has talent and cultural capital to serve children and families. Working together, the two organizations were able to scale proven practices and reach many more scholars, families and communities. Since 2013, the participation in their summer program, Power Scholar Academies, has increased from 300 to 2,000 youth. And the results are incredibly positive: 90% of scholars demonstrated increased self-confidence, 85% had improved attitudes towards school, and on average, summer scholars gain two months of grade level skills literacy and three in math. Among parents, 91% reported feeling more engaged in their child’s education.

Children’s Vision Massachusetts

Prevent Blindness America Northeast Region Massachusetts State House

Children’s Vision Massachusetts

In 2010, Prevent Blindness Northeast Region established Children’s Vision Massachusetts, a coalition that has grown to sixty members representing optometry, ophthalmology, nursing, pediatrics, public health professionals and families. Members of the coalition include ABCD Head Start, the New England College of Optometry, the On-Sight Mobile Clinic; Live Well Springfield- Kids Coalition; MA Department of Early Education and Care; and the Pediatric Physician’s Organization at Children’s Hospital.  The coalition’s mission is to create a systematic approach to children’s vision services that ensures every child in Massachusetts has the opportunity to develop and retain their best possible vision to support healthy development and academic growth. Through a collaborative strategic process based on analysis, several projects were developed and executed. This includes a program called EyeSEE, a comprehensive vision health program launched at six preschools which informs parents of the dangers of not getting their children’s eyes checked, and also provides eye exams to children. Thanks to the efforts of the coalition, almost 500,000 children and their parents have access to vision health information.

Food For Free

Founded in 1981, Food For Free improves access to healthy food by rescuing food that would otherwise go to waste, strengthening the community food system, and creating new distribution channels to reach underserved populations. When the organization realized that nearly half of the students in the Cambridge Public Schools were eligible for free and reduced lunch, they determined that with a strong partnership with the schools, they could expand their reach to more families. Through this partnership, Food For Free worked with the local municipal government and the Cambridge Public Schools to create a network of “In-School Food Pantries” for low-income families at Cambridge’s highest need elementary schools. By bringing the food to the schools, where students and parents already are, they have access to healthy and nutritious food in a trustworthy environment. In addition, Food For Free recognized that grocery stores, wholesalers, farms and farmers markets often have a surplus of food they cannot sell due to blemishes and expiration dates and that smaller organizations lack transportation services and the space to store, cook, and package food. They sought out partners and worked with them to acquire and distribute food to those in need. In 2015 alone, Food For Free distributed more than 2 million pounds of food and rescued 1.8 million pounds of food from the waste stream.