February 2021 @ MPDC
Black Market and MPDC's unique partnership in Nubian Square
Photo credits: BLM Street Mural- Tiesha "Tizzy Tokyo" Pough
BLM Street Mural Artists: "Mar", "Square Dot" and Christopher Grant (Curation: Black Market)
BLM Letter curation: I am Kreyol, Joelle Jean-Fontaine
Instagram: @simplyoutstanding @thesarkingroup
Black Market and Madison Park Development Corporation are excited to announce a unique partnership to purchase the building located at 2136 Washington Street with technical support from the City of Boston.

The acquisition of this property is part of a broader vision of self-sufficiency for Roxbury, where local ownership directly blocks speculation and displacement and ensures future development that will focus on investments in businesses, art, and culture in our community. Property ownership represents a key strategy that results in sustainable economic development and builds equity that directly addresses the wealth gap in our community.

Christopher and Kai Grant are long-time residents and local entrepreneurs who have been leading the charge of infusing cultural energy into their community in hopes that a new crop of Entrepreneurs will emerge from the City of Boston’s geographical center: Roxbury. The couple launched a business model, cooperative in nature, called Black Market in June 2017 with a mission to reignite the creative economy in Nubian Square. Since its launch, over 350 hundred aspiring micro-business Founders and over 40,000 Supporters have cycled through Black Market’s signature Marketplace and Public Art events in the Nubian Square commercial district. The couple’s main goal has been to provide a launchpad for Artisans, Artists, and Activists inside the City of Boston’s most struggling Main Streets defining Nubian Square as a destination.

The 1700 sq. Ft. space has been the District’s hub for sharing ideas, cultural events, art creation, and exchange of goods driving the local ecosystem. It is considered by many to be a meeting ground and safe space for interactions that inspire the community to conjure up the big ideas that could potentially transform the surrounding Nubian Square neighborhoods and help close the $247,500 wealth gap.

“We are both humbled and proud to partner with MPDC and set a precedential model in Nubian Square that mitigates the displacement of not only Black Market, but also for the extremely gifted Community of Black Artisans, Artists, and Activists its' platform has served while fulfilling its' mission to reignite Roxbury's creative economy," remarks Kai Grant, Owner + Chief Curator, BMN.

As we celebrate the 55th anniversary of our founding, it is incredibly meaningful to be fulfilling our mission through a unique relationship with an organization like Black Market. Chris and Kai’s ability to be the change they want to see directly honors the legacy of our founders’ vision for a community-owned and built by its residents,” Leslie Reid MPDC CEO reflects.

This year, MPDC marks 55 years since its founding. MPDC was born out of both an innovative vision for the future and necessity during an era in which the Roxbury community faced unprecedented challenges grounded in racial and economic injustices. 

As one of the very first community development corporations in the nation, MPDC has accomplished a great deal- building and preserving over 1300 units of high-quality, affordable housing; restoring Hibernian Hall, now a local leader in bringing arts and culture, particularly work from artists of color to Greater Boston audience; creating and growing our now robust Community Action department, which brings a diverse range of programs and resources to hundreds of residents and community members each year; and most recently, the creation of the Dewitt Center in the heart of Madison Park Village, which has quickly become the site of high quality, multigenerational programs, and a vibrant community gathering space.
Sankofa is an African word from the Akan tribe in Ghana. The literal translation of the word and the symbol is “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.”
The symbol is based on a mythical bird with its feet firmly planted forward with its head turned backward. Thus, the Akan believe the past serves as a guide for planning the future. To the Akan, it is this wisdom in learning from the past which ensures a strong future. The Akans believe that there must be movement and new learning as time passes. As this forward march proceeds, the knowledge of the past must never be forgotten.
Photo credits: Roxbury Love Story Mural (MLK and Coretta King)- Afrocentered Media
Roxbury Love Story Mural Artists: Geo Ortega and Rob "ProBlak" Gibbs (Curation: Black Market)
Producer: Melnea Cass Residents/Urbanica, Inc.
Photo credits: Afro-Indigenous Arts & Healing Festival- Jay Pix 
Afro-Indigenous Arts & Healing Festival Artist credits: (upon request)
2451 Washington Street completed & families are moving into their new homes
Construction is now complete at 2451 Washington Street, a four-story condominium development that sits at the highly visible corner of Dudley Street and Guild Row. This gorgeous development offers 16 new homeownership units targeted to first-time homebuyers in Nubian Square. The project consists of a mix of 1-bedrooms, 2-bedrooms, and 3-bedrooms at market-rate and affordable prices. Amenities include a parking garage, community room, outdoor space, balconies, in-unit washer & dryer, energy-efficient heating, air conditioning, and appliances. 

2451 Washington Street was developed in partnership with the City of Boston and Carpenter & Company through the City's Inclusionary Development Policy. Other partners include the Plymouth Rock Assurance Foundation, Boston Private, DREAM Collaborative, and Essex Builders. The project's goals are to build the residents' wealth, increase community homeownership rates, free up affordable rental units for other households, and provide construction job opportunities for minority & women contractors, laborers, and local & Boston residents. 

These new homes complement MPDC's homeownership project at 75 Dudley Street, the new B-2 police station, the Roxbury Boston Public Library, and Nuestra Comunidad's Bartlett Station project.

Check out next month's newsletter for a photo tour of the units and interviews with new residents!

Special shoutout to MPDC staffers Bob Pezinni, Megan Reagon, and Dwayne Watts for their tireless efforts on this project!
Welcome, Fellows Becca & Ally!
Please join MPDC in welcoming the latest College for Social Innovation (CfSI) Fellows, Becca Harmon & Ally Houck!

Becca joined MPDC in January as a Youth Workforce Program Fellow. She will be working with the Youth Development team on their scholarship campaign, academic coaching, designing workshops, and other administrative duties. Becca is from Farmington, Maine, and is currently living in CfSI’s quarters in Allston. She is a junior at Wheaton College, Majoring in Business with a Minor in Education. She enjoys field hockey, hiking, the outdoors, and crafting. 

Ally joined MPDC in February as an Opportunity Employment Fellow. She is a Senior at Bridgewater State University (BSU). At BSU, she serves as the Student Ambassador for The National Association of Social Workers. Ally is a US National Guard member, and in her free time, she takes classes to become a Certified Nursing Assistant.

Welcome to the team!
MPDC February Staffing Announcements
Community Support Coordinator, Tahara Samuel, joins MPDC with over 12 years of professional experience in trauma response, workforce development, case management, and advocacy work with high and proven at-risk youth. She is a Certified Housing Specialist and has completed training in addiction counseling, behavioral therapy, and crisis education. She has been a member of the Boston Trauma Response Team since 2016, working alongside the Boston Public Health Commission in responding to emergencies and acts of violence and trauma within Boston communities. As MPDC's Community Support Coordinator, Samuel will organize MPDC's Community Support programs under the Village In Progress (VIP) and the Neighborhood Trauma Team (NTT) initiatives. Her primary focus is to provide community support to improve the quality of life for residents in Roxbury.

Welcome, Tahara!
Director of Operations, Yvette Jordan, joined the MPDC team in 2012 after stepping down from her 20-year role as a Senior Investment Leader at Fidelity Investment. Yvette chose to begin working in the non-profit sector for personal satisfaction. Yvette started at MPDC as an Office Manager, which involved maintaining and supporting the office and assisting multiple program departments in their community efforts. Her role expanded two years ago to Operations and Office Manager and now to Director of Operations. Her role as Director of Operations includes providing support to the CEO, corporate affairs, and ensuring the offices run smoothly. "MPDC always brings new challenges and excitement to my life," Yvette reflects.

Congratulations, Yvette!
Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Kelly Ransom, has been with MPDC since 2018 when she was hired as Communications Manager after stepping out of her role as Director of Communications & Events at the Boston City Council as a part of City Councilor At-Large Annissa Essaibi George's team. Previously she worked with the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation as Fundraising & Communications Associate. She continuously volunteers her time with various non-profits, political campaigns, and community initiatives across the city. Ransom will continue leading all events & marketing for the organization with the additional responsibility of directing MPDC's external communications with stakeholders, community partners, city agencies, and elected officials. Ransom completed Emerge's Campaign Management Program in 2020 and is currently acquiring her Certified Event Planner credentials. 

Congratulations, Kelly!
In February, Juan Leyton, MPDC's Vice President of Programs, resigned from his role to explore a new opportunity. Juan will now serve as the National Director of Organizing and Advocacy for the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC). In his new role, he will oversee advocacy work at the state and federal levels and expand NCRC in several states around the country. 

We will miss you, Juan!
Learn how to prepare, preserve, and create healthy meals
MPDC's Health Equity & Wellness Program is excited to start the 2021 Meal Prep & Participation class (MPP). Led by Health Equity and Wellness Organizer Leslie Stafford & a certified Nutritionist, participants learn how to prepare, preserve, and create healthy meals. This program runs from March-June 2021, starting March 6, 2021. MPP is held in 6 Saturday sessions from 9 AM to 10:30 AM and is open to all ages. In addition to attending a delicious class, all participants receive a free weekly bag of groceries, a swag bag, and a certificate upon completing the course.

To sign up or for more information, contact Leslie Stafford / 617.946.6460.
MPDC is now accepting applications for the
Hope Community Garden Club!

  • Garden opens May 2021
  • All ages welcome!
  • Kids’ Garden Club (2-10)
  • Hope Garden Plots for adults & older adults
  • Garden Club offers garden education, social connectivity, garden training, garden events, home gardening training, and other gardening opportunities
  • Limited space – Sign up NOW!

A special thank you to Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation, for their third year of support for MPDC's community gardens!

To sign up or for more information, contact
Leslie Stafford, Health Equity & Wellness Organizer / 617.946.6460
Duet at The Dewitt
Do you or someone you know need a college degree, but you have a hard time fitting it into your life right now? Duet, a local non-profit and program partner of The Dewitt Center, is partnering with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) to provide access to Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees explicitly designed for working adults. 
This partnership offers the most affordable college tuition in Boston. Students can use federal financial aid and there are no hidden costs or books. Because the courses are project-based instead of lecture and test-based, schoolwork can be completed on a flexible schedule—meaning students can work full- time and take a full class load and earn their degree quickly. 
Personal-trainer like coaching and access to a study center steps from Downtown Crossing is available to all students. Current students range from ages 18 to 55 and come from more than 30 cities and towns in New England. 

SNHU and Duet are now enrolling for their March and May terms!  
If you or someone you know would be interested in learning more, email Chris Correa or fill out the interest form on their website to schedule a time to speak with an enrollment coach. Please check out this video to learn more.
Congratulations, CAAN Fence!
Our latest recipient of the MWBE COVID-19 Relief Fund is CAAN Fence!

Considered one of the leading MWBE (Section 3) Fence Contractor in the City of Boston, CAAN Fence was formed in May 2012 by Anthony Damon and Carlene Lewis-Damon. “Our first date was a trip to a fence that he installed. So I knew I had to make his entrepreneurial dreams come true,” claims co-owner Mrs. Carlene Lewis-Damon.  

 As a Union Signatory with the Laborers Union (#223, #22, and #721), CAAN Fence offers top-quality commercial and industrial fence installation and maintenance to many developments in and around Greater Boston. The CAAN Fence team is experts in ornamental steel, aluminum, chain link, vinyl, wood, wrought iron, and other popular fencing materials. They have worked with several high-profile general contractors across the Commonwealth, including Gilbane, Skanska, Bond Brothers, and Turner Construction

MPDC is happy to assist CAAN Fence during these difficult times by awarding them an MWBE Contractor Funding in partnership with Life Science Cares. “This assistance – quite simply – kept our doors open. And that’s what matters,” stated Carlene. With a staff of 12, CAAN Fence will apply the funds toward general material expenses and personal protective equipment necessary for her employees. 

For more information on CAAN Fence, please call (781) 767 – 3596.
For more information on the MWBE Relief Fund,
contact Katrina Conrad / 617.849.6226.
Celebrating Legacy, Honoring Community, and Embracing Promise with Hibernian Hall!
Hibernian Hall (HH) celebrated Black History month with a two-part virtual performance series! On February 18th, HH featured artist and poet D Ruff. performed an inspiring piece that spoke to the soul of Roxbury and CELEBRATED Legacy & HONORED Community in recognition of MPDC's 55th Anniversary.

On February 25th, HH featured an inspiring performance from OrigiNation Cultural Arts Center. OrigiNation, Incorporated is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that produces innovative and dynamic performing arts programs that motivate, challenge, and inspire youth to be the best they can be. They offer quality dance, theater arts, and African history education. Special emphasis is placed on teaching young people between the ages of 2 through 18 the importance of self-respect, health, nutrition, education, self-esteem, and the extent of African influences on various contemporary art forms. 

HH's next virtual performance with Milkshaw Benedict on March 4th will HONOR Community and kick-off Hibernian Hall month for MPDC's 55th Anniversary.

Stay tuned to our social media, where these virtual performances are going to be released in the future!
We invite The Friends of Hibernian Hall to join us for 2021's first Friends' Reception, a great networking opportunity on Friday, March 26th at 6:15 PM. The reception will feature Hibernian Hall's Director of Programs, Olawumi Akinwumi, followed by a long-anticipated talk and presentation by Hibernian Hall's 2021 Playwright In Residence, Mary McCullough. Watch for your e-invite or contact Resource Development Manager Kay Mathew for more information.

We are looking forward to seeing all of our Friends virtually! Want to attend but not a Friend? Join The Friends of Hibernian Hall! Becoming a Friend is a great way to support Hibernian programs and local artists while you enjoy exclusive membership benefits. 
Leslie Reid Achieving Excellence
Congratulations to MPDC CEO Leslie Reid for her participation in the intensive NeighborWorks Achieving Excellence Program! NeighborWorks America & Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government hosts 50 high-performing CEOs and senior leaders every year. The program features one-on-one executive coaching, focused peer support, and a cutting-edge curriculum.
NeighborWorks America
supports MPDC's work in 2021
MPDC is very proud to be a longstanding partner and exemplary member organization of NeighborWorks America (NW). This essential community-building resource provides funding and technical assistance to CDCs and other nonprofit community builders across the country. NW creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities. MPDC is honored to have been awarded $467,000 from NW in support of its operations and real estate development in 2021. We are most grateful and proud of NW’s continued confidence in MPDC's critical work here in Roxbury!
MPDC's 55th Anniversary February re-cap
On February 1st, 2021, MPDC launched its 55th Anniversary!
We commemorated the day by launching MT2T.org for Madison’s Train 2 Trades initiative under the Workforce Diversity & Development Program. MPDC also announced Hibernian Hall presents ‘Celebrating Black History Month,’ a series of performances featuring local artists honoring past & present leaders. Every week, MPDC recognized Black History Month and CELEBRATED Legacy, HONORED Community, and EMBRACED Promise all month long on our social media & website. See everyone recognized and more on our 55th Anniversary page.
Now Accepting Applications for MPDC's 2021 Scholarship Program!
Each year, through the Ralph Smith, Danette Jones, and Haynes Family Scholarships, MPDC helps several deserving students from Roxbury offset their college education costs.

Several college-bound applicants from Roxbury are selected annually by MPDC to receive scholarships toward each recipient's college tuition and expenses. MPDC's college scholarship program was established by a bequest from Ralph Smith's estate, our co-founder and first Executive Director, and a gift made in honor of Danette Jones, our second Executive Director. These scholarships make a meaningful difference in the lives of our young residents.

Interested in learning more about MPDC's 2021 Scholarship Program?
Contact MPDC Youth Workforce Manager, Yhinny Matos  / 617.849.6236.
MPDC Staff Spotlight:
5 Questions with Patrice Shepherd
As a way for our community to learn more about our staff members, we have started the '5 Questions' series. These monthly interviews in our newsletters feature five random questions with an MPDC staff member. 
This month we are chatting with MPDC's Administrative Assistant

1. Describe your role as an Administrative Assistant at MPDC.
P: As an Administrative Assistant at MPDC, my role is to ensure all staff members have the support they need to work effectively towards their goals, whether data entry, tech support, or brainstorming. I love helping others reach their goals while learning new skills and techniques in the processes.
2. What are some MPDC initiatives that you are excited about?
P: The MPDC initiative I'm most excited about is celebrating MPDC's 55th Anniversary! And this year, we're CELEBRATING Legacy, HONORING Community, and EMBRACING Promise, which I love being a part of.
3. Where is your favorite place to visit in Roxbury?
P: My favorite place to visit in Roxbury is the Roxbury Library. Before its renovations, I would spend a lot of time reading and playing chess with the local Roxbury residents. 
4. What do you like to do in your spare time?
P: When I'm not working, I'm relaxing and reading. I don't have too much free time, but when I do, I enjoy a beer!
5. What do you hope for the future of Roxbury?
P: I hope that Roxbury and MPDC continue to provide affordable, clean housing for black and brown Bostonians and help the residents of MPDC and Roxbury foster an even stronger community together! 
Thank you to our February 2021
Newsletter Contributors!
Arlene Baldwin
Erica Davis
Katrina Conrad
Kay Mathew
Kelly Ransom
Leslie Stafford
Megan Reagon
Meghan Higgins
Olawumi Akinwumi
Patrice Shepherd
Sandra Sierra
Tahara Samuel
Yvette Jordan
Honoring Community with
Milkshaw Benedict
Celebrating past & present Black leaders through
artistic expression!

WHEN: Thursday, March 4
7 pm

WHERE: On Zoom (link provided upon registration)

For more information contact
Hibernian Hall Program Director Olawumi Akinwumi.