Events

National Day is here again!

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For the fourth year in a row, Code for Boston is pleased to announce our participation in the National Day of Civic Hacking. This year, participants across the country will be partnering with SecondMuse and NASA to take action on a number of civic and social projects. Over two days – June 4th and 5th – developers, technologists, researchers, community activists, and government partners will gather at the Microsoft NERD Center to participate in a two-part event. This year, Code for Boston is changing our usual format and instead of hosting a community-focused two-day hackathon geared towards participation by technologists, we’re splitting the event into two distinct but related events; a CommonCamp on Saturday and HackLab on Sunday.

During CommonCamp, a CityCamp event, Code for Boston is once again collaborating with MassIT, the IT department for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to hold an unconference event wherein we hope to kick start a dialogue about critical issues that face our state. We aim to bring together government employees, technologists, and engaged community members to discuss problems and potential solutions to issues including transportation, environmental and energy concerns, the opioid crisis, and youth employment and workforce development. No coding or technology skills are required to participate in CommonCamp. Rather, we look forward to working with energetic, thoughtful individuals who have ideas about how to address problems faced in our neighborhoods.

“The problems we’re aiming to solve affect everyone – whether you are tapped into the technology world or not,” said Isaac Chansky, a member of the Code for Boston leadership team. “We want to create an atmosphere of inclusion so we can really build community ownership.”

On Sunday, we’ll be running a HackLab wherein local technologists can participate in a relaxed day of technological exploration and civic hacking. The HackLab will function like Code for Boston’s traditional hackathon events, utilizing some of the ideas generated at Saturday’s CommonCamp. Hackers can also work on open-source government projects or they can explore the set of National Day challenges provided by Code for America. Additionally, the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a long time partner of Code for Boston, will be providing a dataset they’ve collected which includes every case that has come through Boston housing court since 2014 (roughly 5400 cases). Participants will have an opportunity to work with that data.

Also on Sunday, we are honored to present our keynote speaker, NASA’s Nick Skytland, who will speak about civic technology and NASA’s open data initiative. NASA is committed to open data and we are thrilled to hear about what they’ve been working on and how we, as citizens and technologists can best leverage our skills to help.

Though this format represents a departure from Code for Boston’s normal two-day hackathon, we are hopeful that the CommonCamp component will draw in non-technologists and engaged citizens to jumpstart some crucial discussions about the best ways to address problems in our communities.

“The term ‘Code for Boston’ can be misdealing,” said Becky Donner, Code for Boston’s Events and Fundraising Lead. “One of the most important roles we play in the civic tech ecosystem is in creating a community for both coders and non-coders to work to solve these important issues together. Some of our most valuable members and ideas have come from people who don’t have a technical background, and we’re thrilled to be able to facilitate these kinds of collaborations.”

To learn more about the event or to RSVP, visit the Eventbrite.

Announcing the First Annual Retrospective for Youth CITIES

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Through my role at Microsoft, I get to be a part of the amazing innovation ecosystem we have here in Boston.  And Boston is not just a great place to innovate because I say so; 1776 recently ranked Boston #1 in their Innovation that Matters Report based on six key themes: talent, capital, industry specialization, density, connectivity and culture.  Every day, I have a change to meet a new startup, attend an event to learn about an amazing new innovation or spend time with a founder to think about who can help grow their business.  Partners like MassChallenge, Venture Café, Smarter in the City, Epicenter Community and more are just some of the organizations that make our ecosystem in Boston unique.

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Last year, I brought my husband to the MassChallenge Awards Ceremony.  My son Alex joined me for the Generation Citizen Civics Day in December. We frequently take my family and friends to Lawn on D, the Greenway, the Boston Public Market and other spaces and places with innovative design.  But I often wonder how I can share the uniqueness and unique experience that is the innovation ecosystem in Boston with my family, especially my kids.

582788_273593796065540_1732480520_nOne organization that is working to prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs is Youth CITIES.  As a member of the board, I have judged the finals and semi-finals of the Youth CITIES March to May Bootcamp and each year the students blow me away with the comprehensive business ideas and plans they develop through this program.

On June 2, the board will host the First Annual Retrospective for Youth CITIES. Please join me at this event to meet some of the students, hear their ideas and learn more about how you can support this terrific organization.

YouthCities2Youth CITIES – First Annual Retrospective
June 2, 2016 | 6 – 9PM
Light dinner sponsored by Fuji
Davenport building, 25 First Street, Cambridge (Atrium of Accomplice building)

Join Youth CITIES to both help us celebrate our last 7 years and help forge our way forward. Meet and mingle with the new wave of young entrepreneurial thought-leaders.  Get a glimpse of what will be in store for the future, the one they will be building in ways we aren’t even aware of yet.

Meet our alumni students and learn how an entrepreneurial mindset has opened new possibilities and transformed their way of thinking, and find out what big plans they have for the future.

With Special Guests:

  • Toni Oloko, Youth CITIES alum
  • Rayza Carrasco, Youth CITIES alum
  • Jeff Fagnan, Founder and General Partner, Accomplice
  • Tito Jackson, Boston City Councillor

Hosted by: Youth CITIES Board of Directors

  • Vicky Wu Davis, Founder
  • Dan Ross, Chair
  • Aimee Sprung
  • Alex Finkelstein
  • Andy Miller
  • Chris Wolfel
  • David Birnbach
  • Dougan Sherwood
  • Kathy Huber
  • Leland Cheung
  • Steve Willis
  • Tito Jackson
  • Tom O’Donnell
  • Toni Oloko
  • Vivjan Myrto

Register here.

Youth CITIES is a nonprofit organization preparing the next generation to become entrepreneurial leaders in their area of passion, permeating all areas whether startups, corporations, philanthropy, or government.  We are changing the way young people look and think about problems, limitations, and obstacles…associating them as just design constraints within endless opportunities for change.

Celebrating Inventive Minds at the CT Invention Convention

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Microsoft New England has been a proud supporter of the CT Invention Convention (CIC) for almost 20 years. The CIC is the nation’s oldest continuously operating children’s invention competition, beginning in the 1983-1984 school year, with an estimated 300,000 children experiencing local CIC invention programs. Annually, more than 10,000 students in grades K-8 across Connecticut from over 200 Connecticut schools take part in the CIC learning curriculum. The CIC is funded by grants and in-kind support from community, academic, and business institutions.

ct invention conventionThis year’s event was held at the UConn Gampel Pavilion on Saturday, April 30. Microsoft continued its sponsorship of this convention including awarding six accessibility awards, in which we honored the best inventions enabling improved lifestyles, living, or access the disabled community. The accessibility award winners are invited to the West Farms Mall retail store to celebrate their inventions. In addition to the six special awards, Microsoft gifted each inventor with a technology prize and had employees judge the competition.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Microsoft Accessibility Awards
Best invention enabling improved lifestyles, living, or access to anything by the disabled

  • Ashlee Alves, Cross Street Intermediate School, Naugatuck | Magno Belt
  • Julia Helal, Fishers Island School, Mystic | Safety Stairs
  • Audrey H. Larson, Dag Hammarskjold Middle School, Wallingford | SEAT Safe Emergency Assistive Technology
  • Preston McNulty-Socha, CREC University of Hartford, Hartford | Bat Hat Smart Eyes
  • Lucca Riccio, Joseph A. DePaolo Middle School, Southington | Message Mask
  • Andy Wu, Talcott Mountain Academy, Avon | Mag-Knitz

Recap: Code for Boston’s Spring Demo Night

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Last Tuesday, May 3rd, Microsoft NERD played host to Code for Boston’s Spring Demo Night. Code for Boston, a local volunteer civic technology group, provided an opportunity for project teams to demo the projects and applications they’ve been working on throughout the winter. Code for Boston holds weekly hack nights at the Cambridge Innovation Center where teams collaborate, iterate, and work on projects involving the creative use of technology to solve community needs. On Tuesday, eight teams presented their work to a packed house of technologists, community members, government partners, and interested citizens. Projects ranged in topics from education, to family resources, to transit with the cities of Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville well represented.

“This is a really great Demo Night for us,” said Becky Donner, Code for Boston’s Fundraising and Events Lead. “Microsoft is such a great partner for us and we love showing off the work our volunteers have been doing. I’m excited to see how the community reacts to our projects.”

Kicking off the demos was FindIt Cambridge, a website allowing Cambridge residents to easily find resources for families and children. The project began as a Code for Boston volunteer effort over a year ago and has since been built out to solicit bids from local companies. An initiative by the Cambridge Kids’ Council, FindIt Cambridge has partnered with Terravoz, a local technology consultancy to make the site accessible to everyone.

A project begun during the historic winter of 2015, Snow Ranger was originally designed as an app to help low-mobility citizens navigate unplowed or icy sidewalks and roads. Since then, the app has pivoted – and been renamed ByPath – and in addition to snow and ice, the app considers potholes, rough pavement, broken sidewalks, or any other mobility challenges for local residents.

During CodeAcross 2015, the City of Somerville began a project which became known as Cornerwise, a platform that allows residents to see, at-a-glance, any capital building projects going on in their neighborhood or town. Cornerwise allows users to discover interesting projects and see what the city is planning near them.

Rounding out the first half of presentations was the team working on Student Insights, a method for teachers and administrators to track student progress in the Somerville school system. Student Insights began as the project of the 2015 Code for America Fellowship Team in Somerville and has since been adopted by the Code for Boston volunteer community as one of our most complex projects. With the goal of giving educators a more holistic view of students and the ability to curb at-risk behavior before it begins, Student Insights is also one of Code for Boston’s most important projects.

After a quick break and networking opportunity, we began our second half of presentations with Bikeways 4 Everybody, a project that crowd-sources public input on ideal locations for fully protected bike routes. In collaboration with the Boston Cyclist’s Union, the application has already received more than 500 public submissions.

The City of Cambridge is also taking advantage of local tech talent with the work of the EnerSave team. Cambridge is competing for the Georgetown Energy Prize, a $5 million prize to the city that lowers its energy usage the most over a period of three years. Team EnerSave has created a dashboard that allows Cambridge residents to compare their energy bills to that of their neighbors, receive energy saving tips, and help contribute to lowering Cambridge’s energy usage.

The demos concluded with two projects focusing on that old favorite of Boston technologists, the MBTA. The first project, MBTA Tardy, begun at CodeAcross this past March at the Roxbury Innovation Center and was created in conjunction with Andrew Seeder of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative. In the Boston Public School system, students who rack up enough tardies may need to attend summer school. Often these tardies are unavoidable due to public transit delays. MBTA Tardy is a method by which students can track their transit and prove which tardies were due to transit delays, thus preventing punitive measures against students and providing incentive to attend school.

Finally, volunteers presented mbta.fyi, a web application using the MBTA’s real-time GPS information to give the most accurate bus and subway predictions available. The app also allows for route control and presents alternate options for more efficient transit choices.

In total, the eight projects presented at Demo Night provided a good sample of the kind of projects to which Code for Boston volunteers dedicate their time and talents. “It’s great for us to present a Demo Night every so often,” said Isaac Chansky, a member of Code for Boston’s leadership team. “We want to show the community the kinds of things we’re doing and we want their feedback. This is a good way to demonstrate what we’ve been up to.”

“It’s always great to have people ask, ‘Can I use this right now?’” added Harlan Weber, Code for Boston’s lead organizer. “That shows that the work we’re doing is useful and is having an impact.”

Code for Boston’s next big event will be the yearly National Day of Civic Hacking, held this year on June 4-5 at NERD. Collaborating with MassIT (the Commonwealth’s IT department), and GovNextMA, this year’s event will feature a CommonCamp unconference on Saturday and a technology-focused HackLab on Sunday. Visit this link for more information or to RSVP.

TechJam Shows Middle School Students The Fun Side of Tech

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What happens when you unleash a full spectrum of technology on over 200 middle school students? A day of tech, learning, and fun! This April, our Burlington Microsoft Store headed to Shawsheen Valley High School in Billerica for TechJam, a day of tech delivered to students — and we had just as much fun as they did! With 15 Microsoft Retail volunteers, we headed to Shawsheen to take over the school with STEM delights.

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Alongside areas that the school’s robotics and engineering team put together, our group of volunteers spread out across the building to set up six different zones that brought Microsoft technology straight to students:

  • Zone 1: BB-8 Robot Race — An Nguyen & Jade Gosnell
    We brought along an iconic Star Wars character BB8! In the gym, Jade & An helped all 280 kids pilot BB8 through a cone obstacle course – teaching them about the sensors in their smartphones and how wireless connectivity works in iOT devices.
  • Zone 2: Xbox One Minecraft — Rachel Sodi & John Grzyballa
    Rachel & John ran a classroom and taught each kid the fundamentals of coding with Minecraft on Xbox One consoles. The kids were so excited when they saw that Minecraft was an activity at the event!
  • Zone 3: Xbox One Project Spark — Nicholas Martino & Beverly Markwith
    Beverly & Nick ran a classroom with 10 Xbox One consoles loaded with Project Spark. The kids loved exploring the open world of Project Spark and shared their creations with each other.
  • Zone 4: Surface FreshPaint Art Zone — Jena Mancini & Amy Pestena
    Both Jena & Amy did an amazing job instructing all the kids on how to create with the Surface Pen in FreshPaint. The kids all were able to print and take their artwork with them!
  • Zone 5: Xbox Kinect Sports — MD Islam & Evan Pharm
    Our two FITNESS ALLSTARS MD & Evan got every kid up and moving in front of the Kinect camera! From bowling to jet ski racing, the kids were on their feet nonstop!
  • Zone 6: Drone Zone -Joe Dire, Brett Chartenitz & Julian Wiryo
    Goose, Maverick & Iceman(Call signs chosen by them) taught all 280 kids how to pilot a drone using a smartphone! They taught the kids the fundamentals of their Wi-Fi direct which connects the phones to the drone and about onboard solid state memory the drones use to store pictures and videos.

20160421_163940878_iOSAfter a day of fun and nonstop activity, we were thrilled to hear the kids talk to one another about the projects they created and the new tech they learned. We are already planning an event themed for Adults in September, focused on Office 365, Windows 10 and the power of the cloud. We are looking forward to next year’s TechJam, and couldn’t thank Shawsheen Valley High enough!

Impacting Civic Spaces: Boston’s Public Space Invitational

Two years ago, Mayor Walsh launched the Public Space Invitational (PSI), a civic design competition that aims to make Boston’s civic spaces and infrastructure intuitive, beautiful, and delightful through deep collaboration between designers and City Hall. After evaluating 70 entries, the City of Boston awarded nine projects. PSI-winning teams built projects that brought a tidal vibraphone to the Congress Street bridge, provided pop-up learning opportunities on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and activated the mezzanine of City Hall with brightly-colored skateboard tape.

During the first month of the Walsh administration, a time of transition in January 2014, we were inspired by Philadelphia’s civic design challenge. Our office had been involved with a number of public space interventions. We worked with Soofa to install solar-powered benches in our City’s parks. And with City Hall to Go, we redesigned a former bomb-squad truck to bring citizen services to every neighborhood in Boston.

We were looking to expand the way we sourced, funded, and implemented ideas in the streetscape. We thought that creating an open call for Boston’s creative community could achieve this goal. The only thing we needed was a name. It took a while, but we were particularly inspired by David Sim, Partner and Creative Director at Gehl Architects, and his commentary on reinventing public space in The Human Scale, a documentary about the future of urban design.

“I can’t force anyone to do anything or be anyone. But we can make invitations. We can invite people to walk. We can invite people to sit, to stay…invitations to a better everyday, a better way to cross the street, a better way to wait for the bus, a better way to live your life. That’s all we can do.”

After watching the film, we were really taken with the idea of inviting people to reimagine their public spaces. We coupled this with the idea of an Invitational, a term frequently used in athletic competitions. After a few word combinations, we settled on the Public Space Invitational.

The response to the call was exciting and a bit overwhelming. Designers were eager to collaborate with City Hall to improve the city. After choosing the nine winners of the first Public Space Invitational, the real work began. And we learned a lot. Team dynamics and optimistic budgets led to the quick failure of a few projects. We realized how difficult it is to fabricate durable installations for public space, especially on time and on budget. And we got a crash course in permitting and insuring projects on a bridge and in parks and the building we visit everyday, Boston City Hall.

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The Portable Reading Room on the Rose Kennedy Greenway​

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​Tidraphone on the Congress Street Bridge

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​LightWell in the South End Library Park

A couple months ago, Mayor Walsh announced the launch of the second PSI and its theme: the City of People, Places, and Things.

The Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, the Boston Art Commission, and the City’s Streets Cabinet are working with a host of external partners to explore the interplay of digital and analog ideas in the streetscape. We’ve divided the Invitational into three challenges: analog, digital, and a bonus challenge. Our analog challenge explores simple fixes with simple materials. These fixes could be paint in the street or lightweight structures that make a community more cohesive. For the digital challenge, we’re partnering with Microsoft Technology and Civic Engagement to look for projects that experiment with technology, sensors, and a generally connected world to improve the streetscape. We are seeking forward-thinking, human-centered creative ideas that highlight the Internet of People, Place, and Things. And finally, we’re partnering with MassArt’s Matthew Hincman, Professor of Sculpture, and the MBTA to rethink Mattapan Station. How can we make bus shelters more inviting, beautiful, and comfortable?

Since its launch, the Invitational has become a piece of a series of efforts by Mayor Walsh to engage and support Boston’s creative community. The City is working to bolster and expand the connections between City Hall and designers, and can’t wait to build on those collaborations.

Microsoft celebrates National Small Business Week with programs and deals for local businesses

Small business is the heart of the U.S. economy: The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. Microsoft is celebrating National Small Business Week May 1-7 with events, panel discussions, videos, and in-store offers at Microsoft Stores designed to help small businesses grow and succeed. Get daily updates at the Microsoft Sway page for National Small Business Week.

Boosting IT security for small businesses

On Monday morning, the United States Institute of Peace hosted a panel discussion focused on the importance of cybersecurity for small businesses, which are becoming a key target for cybercriminals seeking to access financial and personal data. Attackers assume that small businesses have limited resources for IT security; experts from Microsoft, ADP and ESET joined SBA Deputy Administrator Doug Kramer to offer solutions and resources that will help small businesses fight back. You can watch a replay of the discussion and follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #DreamSmallBiz.

Office Small Business Academy Live Expert Q&A

On Thursday, May 5, at 7 p.m. EDT, the Office Small Business Academy webcast series is hosting a live event, “Small Businesses, Big Ideas,” from the flagship Microsoft Store in New York. Featured speakers Carol Roth, Ramon Ray and Rieva Lesonsky will field entrepreneurs’ questions about building and growing a small business, from managing employees to connecting with customers. As a bonus, attendees will be eligible to get two months free with an annual Office 365 Business Premium plan.

A local success story

Boston startup HourlyNerd is one of this week’s featured small business success stories. HourlyNerd, which began as a Harvard Business School MBA project, is using Office 365 to help bring top-notch management consulting to small businesses at a price they can afford.    

Special offers for small businesses at the Microsoft Store

Microsoft Stores are designed to support the needs of small businesses with products and solutions, events, support and training. For National Small Business Week, we’re presenting programs to help entrepreneurs achieve more and offering discounts to help you get the most out of your investments. Check out the store nearest you for special workshops and offers.

Enabling Youth Employment: A Conversation with Lawrence Brown

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Last month, we started a conversation on youth employment in the City of Boston. With the help of eight unique panelists from all walks of life, we discussed the importance of delivering employable skills (management, leadership, and coding, for example) to our local youth to drive the economy and uplift our communities. And we know that our youth know the struggle of employment best. So we want to showcase their stories.

Meet Lawrence Brown, a 26-year-old Boston resident who attended Newton schools through the Metco program and is now a computer technician and web developer at Resilient Coders.

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How did you learn about Resilient Coders?

I was referred to the Resilient Coders bootcamp through an employee of the City of Boston. They had noticed me struggling to gain employment but saw my determination and connected me with people to get into the program.

What made you get into coding? What’s your favorite part about coding?

I’ve always been somewhat interested in the tech field. But all I was taught about was the stuff you can physically touch and see, such as networking and help desk — those types of things. Coding is just another outlet to be in the tech industry. My favorite part is when there’s something you work on for two hours and you just can’t get it right, then you take a walk around, eat, maybe talk on the phone… and you come back after giving your brain a rest and you fix your problem in 2 minutes. You surprise yourself, like, “wow, that’s all I had to do.”

Why does this work matter to you?

This work is important because people need websites in this day and age to have people notice them. But it’s more of the opportunity that matters, that there is this mysterious field of tech called coding no one knows about. Who are the people who do this? It’s such a mystery to people, and it could be the person sitting next to you on the bus or train — and that’s what I mean when I say that anyone can do it.

What’s your dream job?

When I was young my dream job was to be in the NBA — my first love is basketball. But now that I’m older and wiser, my dream job would be to manage a company that builds websites and employs inner city youth. I would obviously be managing from some tropical island :)….

What’s the coolest coding project you’ve worked on?

I guess the coolest would be working on my personal resume site. A website that showcases my talents. I would pick this because I’m free to do whatever I want and design it to fit me.

Why is it important for youth to learn these skills?

I think learning this skill is important because it will introduce youth to new ways to gain wealth. The future businesses will all be accessible online and they will be in need of our services.

What advice would you give to youth who want to learn tech skills?

I would say to never give up. It gets hard — really hard — and you will hit walls where it would be easier to quit. If you can get around that wall, you’ll make it in the tech field for sure. And always be open to new experiences; you never know what is around the corner.

With the help of Agora Town Hall, we’ve set up a town hall discussion of our own, where we encourage members of our community to discuss, contribute, and act through message boards, polls, data visualizations, and more. We want to help improve youth employment in our city, and that starts with you. Join us in the conversation at theagora.co/townhalls/mcyouth.

Microsoft New England Picks: Not-To-Miss Events This May

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April showers bring May tech events… at least, that’s our motto here at Microsoft New England. With so much to do in Cambridge and Boston surrounding technology, policy, and education, there’s no resting this month. We’ve done our part to make sure you don’t miss a thing — here are our top picks for events you don’t want to miss this month:

May 4

Technovation Showcase

Technovation is an international program that teaches mobile app development, entrepreneurship, and community engagement.

High school and middle school female students work in teams of up to 5 to develop mobile apps to solve a problem in their local community.

Teams work with a classroom teacher or coach at their school and a female mentor/role model as project manager from the technology or related industry. Undergraduate female CS students may also be available to aid the teams by helping to answer coding questions. Specialist mentors of either gender may also contribute via presentations on their applicable expertise.

Each professional mentor works with a team of girls to guide them through each week of Technovation’s 12-week curriculum. Girls see their mentors as role models and look to them for guidance on how to overcome obstacles and solve problems thru the completion of their projects.

Regional winners compete at the World Pitch event in California where teams compete for funding to launch their company and take their app to market! The MassTLC Ed Foundation partners with CSTA Greater Boston and Microsoft New England to host a live regional pitch night in May as preparation for the World Pitch!

May 5

BUILD Sales Showcase

Attention shoppers! Come to our 9th graders’ first selling event! Support our students by listening to their pitches and buying their products. Please come support out students — you don’t want to miss it! Come at 3:20 and be an early bird shopper, or drop by as soon as you can — selling ends at 5:00.

May 17

Roxbury Innovation Center Cafe Night

The monthly Café Nights @ RIC are energetic and dynamic events where innovators and entrepreneurs can find one another and collaborate to bring their dreams to reality.

These regular gatherings provide a space for conversations and scheduled programs to inspire a wide range of attendees from different backgrounds and industries to connect, share ideas, and grow their ventures. The Café is open to all members of the innovation community—stop by to try it out.

May 18

MIT Media Lab Social Innovation Showcase

Join over 350 businesspeople, philanthropists, and community leaders to hear eight of greater Boston’s most innovative nonprofits pitch their solutions to our community’s toughest social issues. The Social Innovation Forum’s 13th annual Social Innovator Showcase, modeled after a venture capital forum, will highlight our eight 2016 Social Innovators for potential investors and spark conversations about the best approaches to develop and spread innovation.

May 19

MassChallenge Finalist Announcement

May 20-22
4th International Conference on Participatory Budgeting in North America

The conference is a space for participants and organizers of PB processes around the world to share and reflect on their experiences, alongside interested activists, practitioners, scholars, elected officials, technology innovators and civic designers through plenaries, panels, workshops, and other activities. Programming will be organized around tracks on Youth, Research, and PB in Practice and will lift up themes of inclusion, diversity, tools/best practices, and how PB can contribute to larger movements for social change.

This year’s program will include an opening kickoff celebration event taking place in conjunction with the City Of Boston’s Vote Fest, opportunities to observe the local PB vote, a range of talented and innovative speakers and exciting activities, and sessions at the Harvard Kennedy School as well as other sites around Boston.

May 25

The Refugee Road: An interactive event exploring the Syrian refugee crisis — Presented by Oxfam America, “The Refugee Road” will be a unique and interactive opportunity for participants to engage with the powerful themes of choice, loss, and uncertainty.

Most individuals in Syria face terrible choices about how to escape the unrelenting violence in their homeland. Yet few of these choices can ensure their safety. Syria’s war—described by the UN as “the worst humanitarian crisis of our time”—has forced more than 11.4 million people to flee their homes. Those who stay are often in danger. Many of those who leave must risk their lives to make dangerous journeys in pursuit of better lives for their families and themselves.

Humanitarian experts will be present to discuss the crisis, answer your questions, and tell you what you can do to assist the many Syrians trapped on The Refugee Road.

Jobcase and Youth HUB Boston Improve Young Adults’ Access to Meaningful Work

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Last month, Jobcase, a social media platform working to empower America’s workforce, and Microsoft New England, a local branch promoting research, software innovation and community in the heart of Kendall Square, partnered with Dorchester-based career-readiness nonprofit Youth HUB Boston, to host a youth job fair. The novel collaboration of tech companies and a local service organization ultimately connected over 400 attendees with more than 20 local employers.

The event was created to empower young people in their job search- to provide them with access to tools and resources to help them make their own best case to employers, to identify jobs that are the best fit for their skills and long-term career goals, and to increase opportunities for local employers to discover youth talent in underserved communities.

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Hosting the event at Youth HUB Boston’s headquarters in Dorchester’s Codman Square, Youth HUB, Jobcase, and Microsoft provided young job seekers with a range of career development resources. Upon arrival, job fair participants received a checklist of “keys to career development”, outlining elements crucial to both short and long term success in their career paths. Throughout the course of the event, attendees received guidance on preparing job applications and seeking references, best practices for resume writing, strategies for networking and advice on how to use online Jobcase career profiles to best showcase their talents. The Jobcase team helped attendees create and customize their own Jobcase career profiles, developing elements to best showcase their achievements from work experience, school, or volunteering. To further strengthen participants’ online career presence, Jobcase also provided free professional headshot photos – an important requirement for anyone looking to build a personal career brand. Ultimately, the most effective advantage provided may be the ability to connect to peers via the Jobcase network, which enables people to reach out to one another to offer or receive help, creating a path for neighbor-to-neighbor supported career success.

Microsoft generously donated Surface Tablets for use at the event, enabling attendees to easily access the Jobcase social media platform and more effectively network with each other and employers at the event. The tablets also enabled workshops to be hands-on and interactive, gave attendees the ability to easily take immediate steps to create their own professional profiles and helped them explore new resources and tools.

“The event was powerful because we were able to get youth talent and local employers in the same room,” noted Ayda Zugay, Youth HUB’s Interim Executive Director. “It was a visual representation of the need in our community for youth jobs, as well as the desire of local employers to see our youth as assets not liabilities. Jobcase and Microsoft played a key role in amplifying this effect well beyond the 400 attendees, to a community of over 10,000 – that is real systems change.”

With over 50 million members, Jobcase is a social media platform that empowers users to showcase and improve their work life and Youth Hub is a non-profit organization focused on youth employment and job readiness. Working together, they explained, the non-profit and tech communities can improve underserved communities’ access to crucial career resources. Through this novel collaboration, the partners have also created innovative approaches for empowering people to be successful in 21st-century career development. This is a great example of how local tech companies can “give back” most effectively, by powering non-profit organizations with the right tools for success.

“Getting started in your worklife, or career, can sometimes be a confusing and daunting task – we’ve all been there,” said Fred Goff, CEO of Jobcase, “By freely equipping young job seekers with the right digital tools, Jobcase not only empowers them to more effectively job search, but through the Jobcase platform, we are also able to introduce them to a community of people who have been in their shoes and can provide guidance on not just finding any job, but finding a great one. It’s those relationships that we hope will help them throughout their entire career.”

Microsoft’s contributions were also crucial to the success of the Youth Hub job fair which had over 400 attendees, nearly 200 employment applications, and over 100 youth who attended workshops such as resume writing, branding and networking, mock interviews and over 50 youth who left with professional profile photos. 

Jobcase is seeking additional opportunities to partner with nonprofit organizations to continue helping empower America’s workforce. If you are interested in working with, sponsoring, volunteering at, or attending a future Jobcase event, or would like to learn more about Jobcase and its Jobcase Cares Initiative, please contact myself, Christopher Scranton (Christopher@jobcase.com), or head over to Jobcase.com and join in the conversation!

ChristopherScranton1
Christopher Scranton is the Director of Corporate Development & Nonprofit Partnerships at Jobcase. He leads Jobcase Cares, the company’s initiative to provide big data technology to support collaborations with nonprofit, government, and industry partners that empower American workers. Prior to Jobcase, Christopher was Senior Manager for Big Data & Technology Initiatives for the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. He led the Massachusetts Big Data Initiative’s efforts to support and grow business activity, research, collaboration, and innovation in big data, open data, and analytics across the region. Before MassBigData, Christopher led grant programs at MassTech focused on technology-based, cluster-focused economic development efforts in support of emerging and innovation-rich industries including advanced manufacturing, nanotech, digital games, and clean energy. Prior to his work for the state, he was Operations Director at City Year.