Save NonProfit Row in Central Square, Cambridge, MA

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Save NonProfit Row in Central Square, Cambridge, MA

This petition made change with 551 supporters!
Nicola Williams started this petition to Cambridge Redevelopment Authority and

Help Save Cambridge’s NonProfit Row in Central Square

The sale of what we have known as Cambridge’s NonProfit Row, located at 93-99 Bishop Allen Drive in the Port of Central Square, Cambridge is personal to me. Its pending sale may uproot some of the most cherished and significant nonprofits in Cambridge.

The 17,970 square foot, classic brownstone building in Central Square, which is conveniently accessible to transportation has been housing a number of nonprofit organizations for more than 50 years. It is home of Cambridge Camping, where my three step daughters attended and they were grateful to have their first jobs as a Camp Counselor in Training (CIT). Nonprofit Row is also home to Sustainable Business Network (SBN), of which I have been on the board of directors for more than 10 years. SBN, who seeded organizations such as Cambridge Local First and Somerville Local First, engages business and community leaders in building economies that are local, green, and fair. The organization is one of 9 Buy Local Groups advancing and supporting a healthy local food system in Massachusetts and have supported hundreds of local and independently owned business within Greater Boston and New England.

Since 1965, the NonProfit Row has been housing a number of nonprofit organizations serving thousands of clients ranging from survivors of sexual violence, to young adults living with severe chronic disease, to supporting math literacy for youth, as well as uplifting families living in poverty. Currently more than 170 staff, interns, volunteers, youth camp and math literacy workers might have to find a new place to offer its services. The nonprofits currently renting the space include Cambridge Community Foundation, Cambridge Camping, and Next Step charity for youth living with a chronic life-threatening illness, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, The Algebra Project, The Young People’s Project, Brattle Film Foundation, Launch X and Sustainable Business Network.

Major tech and biotech giants have concluded it would be best to locate close to young talent. Some city residents have gotten jobs, but we have also gotten gleaming towers. The Cambridge neighborhood of the Port, with its close proximity to tech headquarters in North America, has experienced the pressures of residential displacement for a few decades because of the massive development creeping in from over the train tracks in nearby Kendall Square. With the escalating price of real estate in Cambridge and Boston for both residential and commercial use, there is grave concern about the retention of vulnerable residents and the non-profit organizations who serve them.

Enroot, formerly Cambridge Community Services (CCS), owner of the building at 93-99 Bishop Allen Drive since the mid-1960s, announced last fall that it would be selling the property. Enroot works with English language learning students so they can succeed in school and beyond and is selling the building to raise money so that it can serve more students. That makes sense for Enroot, and we wish the organization well with its incredibly worthy work. The consequences of this sale can be dire for the non-profit organizations that have relied on reasonable rents and the convenient proximity to public transportation in serving their constituencies.

I am heartened and grateful that the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority (CRA) has made a competitive offer to purchase the CCS building at 93-99 Bishop Allen Drive, and if the sale is successful, would be committed to continue leasing to nonprofit organizations. It is important to keep these nonprofits in Central Square, which brings tremendous value to the City.

Please support me in advocating for Enroot to seriously consider the sale of NonProfit Row to CRA in order to preserve their legacy of supporting resilient communities and help our nonprofits remain resilient in Cambridge. #savenonprofitrow. Sign this petition today.

Thank you,

Nicola A. Williams, Board Member, Sustainable Business Network and Cambridge resident

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This petition made change with 551 supporters!

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