Juneteenth Takeover at the MFA
Access has always been a central tenant for determining success. When partnership, resources, and capital are intertwined, incredible things happen. The Juneteenth Takeover at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA) is a tribute to true freedom for all people and the migration of Americans and the discovery of industrialization. This unique creative experience was the first for Boston and was spawned by a creative collaboration between local artists who sought a broader audience including access to the art museums/institutions and the MFA who was interested in doing an event to drive visitation. The result – The Juneteenth Takeover at the MFA, now in its third year, is one of the MFA’s best attended events with 2000-3000 visitors representing all communities and features 6 local artists, performers, graffiti artists, poets, a symposium and music by the Roxbury Youth Orchestra.
Now we are free.
Late Night Train Experience
With the largest concentration of colleges and universities in the United States, Boston is a central nervous system for innovation. However, creativity and innovation is not bound by the scarcity of late night transportation or social venues to spawn inspiring conversation. Epicenter Community partnered with Governor Deval Patrick and Secretary Davies to raise awareness for the need to empower the creative class with late night transportation options. The result – After 5 hours of testimony to provide context and content to spotlight the issue, a pilot program was born to drive excitement, engagement and activity on late night trains. Artists, musicians, body paint experts set out on the Red and Orange lines to “keep innovation open late in Boston.”
Boston Youth Voice
We have all heard the comment, “I wish I was a kid again.” This program is dedicated to helping young people find their voice and bridge their boundless passion, energy and motivation of our youth with practical experiences in a work environment. The goal is to answer the question – how do I get into fashion, tee shirts, software design or art? – and show that the “real world” has a tremendous amount to offer while you engage your passion. Disparate youth art groups exist, but prior to this program, there was not a connector for the Creative Class in Boston. The result- The program has spawned 6-8 events per year, engaging 250 Boston Public School students from 16 organizations who came together to co-create a mural that was exhibited at Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Ashmont Grill, listen to the founder of Rockstar Video Games, RueLaLa, and Wicked Peacock to discover inspiration for the next chapter.
Boston has always had a strong venture capital and investor community seeking the next big ideas. As a result, incubators were surfacing to launch startups; yet there was no place dedicated to lifestyle businesses that are not high growth, high return. 10x returns were not the driving force for Accelerate Boston; rather, the authenticity of the idea, the conviction of the people and market opportunity provided the jet fuel. The Accelerator is a six month program to start businesses and build a network of relationships to scope, validate and support one another. All sessions are led by volunteer speakers (e.g. Alex Stern or Bill Warner). The result – To date, Acclerate Boston has engaged 65 businesses, 96% of founders under 40, 77% creators of color, and 53% female, and funded 14 businesses including Fresh Food Generation, Nineteenth Amendment, LOR, I Am Kreyol and Sidney Janey Designs. The ethos was captured when Nineteenth Amendment, who was funded by Paul English, signed a deal with Macy’s, closed the show at NY Fashion Week, broadcast on E! Television and introduced the world to Boston fashion designers LOR and I Am Kreyol, also alums of the Accelerate Boston. Ideas at work in Boston.
Restaurant Discovery Pipeline
All entrepreneurs know how important it is to have a proprietary advantage inside their business, a crown jewel for value. Restaurateurs differentiate themselves on their ingredients, dish presentation, location and presence of a liquor license. Yet, a liquor license in Boston costs $500,000, making them unattainable for inspired restaurant owners in urban settings. It was no surprise that corporate distributors control most of the licenses in a narrow scope of neighborhoods, stunting restaurant innovation and neighborhood discovery in Boston. New restaurant owners could either not afford a license during start-up or acquire a license if they could. Epicenter Community created a movement to catalyze inspiring restaurant ideas in Boston and through an effective organizing effort, secured 76 liquor licenses for distribution to urban restaurant innovators. This important initiative will encourage neighborhood discovery and make restaurant dreams an attainable reality for chefs in OUR city.
Fashion Accessibility Project
2015 marked the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This milestone sparked a conversation with the Epicenter Community founders that explored what has changed in the past 25 years. The sentiment was that persons with disabilities are virtually invisible in society and sense of inclusion is lacking. Many of the events celebrating 25 years were focused on disability, work force development and workplace accessibility. To flip this script, Epicenter vowed to launch a series celebrating the beauty, humanity and innovative fashion design. In partnership with top fashion designers (Nineteenth Amendment, Rue La La and The Catrinka Project) and an exchange with designers with disabilities, a Fashion Accessibility Project runway show was born with the goal to spotlight fashion trends for those who are disabled, celebrate beauty and deliver a designer challenge for best design clothes or jewelry.
Mentor In Real Life – International Mentor Day
Many of us have had mentors who have provided guidance, a blue print and opportunities to identify our passions. Mentorship is an integral part of our culture and represents the interaction and feeling among people who want to help us realize our full potential. The Mentor in Real Life program was designed to engage an international youth population and some of the most successful members of the Creative Class in a generational exchange of ideas - filled with interactive sessions, internship opportunities and personal stories. Through the use of innovative technology, this platform will enable global audiences and leaders to connect live and participate without geographic constraints. In partnership with the Muhammad Ali Center, Epicenter Community will bring this innovative experience to life and pay it forward for the next generation of global leaders.
Innovation Inside Uncertainty
Ideas worth spreading do not have to be confined to technology, entertainment and design segments. Thought leaders like Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, and Carly Fiorina have shown a comfortable path to expressing our thoughts online, but is it authentic. The best ideas happen at street level from innovators leading change in communities. The way you consider ways to get a community profitable, launching a business on those coins found on the street or how to accomplish a truce among street gangs are the sort of authentic topics and stories to share. IIU was created to deliver a high profile, street level perspective of Innovation around Uncertainty where we all can find inspiration. Take Fresh Food Generation bringing food “into” food desert neighborhood via food truck. Real people…real stories… real uncertainty.
The Wolf School
Education is about the educator’s ability to build a lasting relationship with the student. The Wolf School in Rhode Island is lead by a team of educators who have dedicated their careers to charting individual curricula for each of its 67 students. These students have severe learning differences and cannot engage with a public school education, yet thrive inside the Wolf School community and become thriving members of society. The results of this model have had a tremendous impact on its families and Wolf School is one of only two schools like it in the country. Epicenter Community collaborated with Wolf School administrators to create a strategic plan aimed to drive awareness for the unique programming, expand corporate sponsor engagement and deliver a world-class learning environment. The result was a film series spotlighting the student, families and community, strong media partnerships valued at $250,000 in value and most importantly 67 engaged students, the largest in school history.
Power of Sport
Sports is a core tenant in our lives. Sport is a universal language -we all have a connection to sport and in some way, it has defined us. This online experience is dedicated to delivering a platform for people around the globe to share their sports stories and how sports influenced, inspired, challenged or beat them and how this learning was applied to lead change in organizations, teams, and their personal life. The connection between sport and society is uncanny, and a conscious understanding of this correlation can lead to successful outcomes, conflict resolution and an open perspective when interacting with humanity.
Family Reach Foundation
The #1 cause of bankruptcy in America is a family member diagnosed with cancer. Family Reach is a lifeline to families fighting cancer. By delivering direct financial assistance to pay bills, get treatment, or transportation, families gain hope and can focus on the relationship with their family member during this trying time. Celebrity chef Ming Tsai became involved with Family Reach after meeting some of the families and designed Cooking Live, a food experience that brings top chefs, celebrities and families together to raise funds for Family Reach. In 2015, Epicenter Community helped bring this unique dining/fundraising experience beyond the walls of the Ritz Carlton where 100+ people were engaging and stream to a live online audience and exposing the Family Reach message to a potential audience of 100M+ people in partnership with Akamai, Microsoft, Brightcove and SessionM. The result, 42,000 donations, donor list was doubled, 4x the participants online, and international media exposure.
In many countries around the World and even in our own company, women do not gain access to opportunities, training and support needed to realize their dreams. The Catrinka Project is a women-owned business that operates with the motto of buy a bag, employ a woman, educate a girl. The company designs handbags from over 11 countries around the globe. Catrinka selects production facilities that are women-operated and proceeds from the retail sales in the United States goes to providing employment for women, education for their daughters at the production facility and a hot meal for their families. Epicenter Community worked directly with Catrinka project to promote awareness of this incredible cause and drive sales and impact global. The result was 1500 new customers and 10x donor base.
Epicenter Community embodies the values of authentic diversity - the art of catalyzing a real conversation about an array of concepts, connections, ideas and relationships. We inspire this across cultural, physical, political, racial and religious planes to spawn inclusive collaborations that deliver positive impact. These experiences truly matter and define our story, together.