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MAYOR WALSH, URBAN EDGE CELEBRATE GROUNDBREAKING FOR WALKER PARK APARTMENTS

Formerly vacant parcels will create 49 new homes in Egleston Square

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today joined Urban Edge, elected officials and community leaders to celebrate the start of construction at the Walker Park Apartments, a $17.5 million affordable rental housing development that will create 49 new homes in Egleston Square. The City of Boston's Department of Neighborhood Development invested more than $2.6 million in Walker Park, which will involve the redevelopment of three sites on vacant and underutilized parcels adjacent to the Egleston Square Library and in the Egleston Square Main Street District.

"Building high quality, affordable housing for working families preserves the rich character of Boston's neighborhoods," said Mayor Walsh. "I want to thank Urban Edge and our partners for their work to make these new homes possible. These are the one, two, and three-bedroom apartments working families here in Egleston Square have been calling for, and I'm proud we are continuing Boston's drive to make sure all families can live and work in the City of Boston." 

Walker Park Apartments are located in the Egleston Square neighborhood of Roxbury. Residents will have access to nearby parks, shopping, public transportation and the Egleston Square Library. The development is named for longtime community activist Delphine Walker, whose home once stood on one of the three sites. All of the 49 new apartments will be rented to households who earn at or below 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), including eight apartments reserved for families earning 30 percent of AMI or below.

"We wish to thank Mayor Walsh, the City of Boston, Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Chrystal Kornegay, and all of those who have made Walker Park possible," said Frank Shea, Urban Edge's CEO. "As Boston continues to grow, we know it is important to find ways to create quality affordable housing for families and individuals in need."

When complete, Walker Park Apartments will include 13 one-bedroom, 28 two-bedroom and eight three-bedroom family apartments, an elevator for accessibility, on-site laundry facilities, on-site parking, and a pocket park along Columbus Ave.

"My family is so grateful to Urban Edge and to everyone for creating Walker Park," said Pam Walker, daughter of Delphine Walker and a resident of Egleston Square. "My mother spent many years working on behalf of the Egleston Square community, and this project is an extension of her work. We couldn't be happier to see her honored this way and to see the site of our family home provide opportunities for other families."

Walker Park Apartments is a City of Boston Lean Pilot Project, which has a goal of reducing the cost of delivering quality affordable housing by applying a new approach to design, and was supported by Massachusetts Housing Partnership and Enterprise Community Partners. As part of this pilot, Urban Edge, the architect, the construction manager, and the City were involved from the beginning of the design process, ensuring that all choices were the result of multifaceted decision-making that considers cost among other project and community goals. This process resulted in significant construction cost savings. Additionally, almost 50 percent of the subcontractors committed to working on the project are minority-owned businesses and more than 22 percent of the committed subcontractors are women-owned.

In accordance with the City of Boston's Green Affordable HousingProgram, Walker Park Apartments will utilize a high efficiency heating system as well as Energy Star rated appliances. The development will employ environmentally friendly design features throughout and will meet the U.S. Green Building Council LEED Homes Silver certifiable standard. The development will also meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star standards. The development team is made up of Urban Edge, Prellwitz Chilinski Associates as the architect; and NEI General Contracting, Inc. as the general contractor.

Walker Park Apartments has been made possible in part by more than $2.67 million in funding from the City of Boston, as well as $3.46 million in State and Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Commonwealth's Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). Financing team members also include Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Brookline Bank, the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation, MassDevelopment, MassHousing, Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation, Massachusetts Housing Partnership, US Bank Corporation, and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Today's groundbreaking builds on the goals of Housing a Changing City: Boston 2030, the Walsh administration's plan to stabilize the housing market, accommodate growth, improve housing accessibility and increase affordability. Since 2014, the implementation of the City's housing plan, 13,551 new units of housing have been completed. With an additional 8,412 units currently under construction, the City has secured housing for an estimated 25,000 residents, making significant progress in meeting Boston's rapid population growth.

These efforts are part of Imagine Boston 2030, the city's first citywide plan in 50 years which aims to proactively encourage a broad range of housing growth for people of all income levels and stages of life. For more information on Imagine Boston 2030, please visit imagine.boston.gov.



Mayor Walsh, Superintendent Chang Kick Off Verizon Program that Will Provide 1,100 BPS Middle-Schoolers with Tablets and Free Internet

Initiative to bridge digital divide for students at three schools

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Boston Public Schools (BPS) Superintendent Tommy Chang today joined students and families of the James P. Timilty Middle School in Roxbury to launch the Verizon Innovative Learning Program, a partnership that is equipping 1,100 students and teachers at three district middle schools with iPads as part of a program aimed at integrating technology-based learning into classrooms.

In addition to the devices, Verizon is also providing students at the Timility, Edwards and McCormack middle schools two years of Verizon Wireless 4G LTE data plans for 24/7 internet access in the classroom and beyond. Each school is also receiving, for two years, a full-time technology coach from non-profit organization Digital Promise to ensure students learn how to use these tools responsibly and to provide teachers ongoing, instructional support.

“Our goal is to build 21st-century classrooms in all of our schools, and to ensure all BPS students have the tools they need to succeed — and that includes technology,” said Mayor Walsh “Through BuildBPS and partnerships like these, we're working to create more opportunities for all students. We are grateful for Verizon’s partnership in providing our students these iPads that will help bring more innovation into students' learning, and knock down barriers to the digital world.”

According to Pew Research, roughly one-third (31.4%) of households whose annual incomes fall below $50,000, and with children ages 6 to 17, do not have a high-speed internet connection at home, placing low income students at a learning disadvantage. While there are more than 4 million available jobs in science and technology, too many economically disadvantaged students are caught in the digital divide, unable to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields without access to technology and educational resources.

Superintendent Chang said partnering with the Verizon Innovative Learning Program can help schools close persistent opportunity and achievement gaps.

“All students deserve access to this essential learning and research tool. By giving our students iPads and free access to the internet, we are making great strides in bridging the digital divide,” Chang said. “Proficiency in using technology is critical for 21st-century jobs.”

Outfitting students with tablets that have full-time wifi access will allow teachers to integrate mobile technology in their lessons, and ensure that learning takes place as much outside the school setting as it does inside.

“Instruction now is not limited to the confines of the classroom, and learning does not have to stop at the bell,” said Boston School Committee Chairperson Michael O’Neill. “It can take place in the home, on the T, or wherever students are using their mobile devices. This is critical as we look to educate the next generation of innovators, scientists, mathematicians, doctors, engineers and pioneers in the STEM fields.”

Donna Cupelo, region president for Verizon New England, explained that by providing opportunities for students to learn and use advanced technology both inside and outside the classroom, Verizon Innovative Learning is giving students the tools and immersive, hands-on learning experiences that are crucial to succeed in today’s global economy.

"By putting technology into the hands of students and educators, Verizon is providing the tools needed to build a brighter future for our students, their families and our communities," said Cupelo. "Our partnership with Digital Promise and Boston Public Schools is one example of our commitment to bridging the digital divide."

Timilty Principal T’Sheba Martin said providing students iPads will open up access to online content, lectures, learning software, and digital tools that will allow them to expand their ability to dig deeper into topics, connect with instructors, research academic journals and perform virtual science labs. The initiative will also help further the Timilty’s focus on developing 21st-century skills, including collaboration, problem solving and leadership. Each BPS school in the program has developed Student Tech Teams that are responsible for helping train fellow classmates.

“Teachers will have the ability to design more engaging, dynamic lesson plans that pull on global knowledge to support local learning,” she said. “We are also empowering our students to be tech ambassadors and teach their peers high-tech skills. These student leaders will help provide ongoing support, guidance, and leadership to their classmates.”

The hundreds of students who arrived at the Timilty Middle School to receive their free tablets also participated in interactive, hands-on learning activities aimed at bringing technology to life through sports and robotics and spark greater interest in coding and engineering.

The students had the opportunity to explore:

    “Smart” connected soccer balls that allow students to measure the mathematical accuracy of their kicks by providing instant feedback on power, spin, strike and trajectory.

    Sphero SPRK+ robots that teach the fundamentals of block coding by having students compete in a game of “bowling” and navigate their robots down a lane and attempt a “strike.”\


MAYOR WALSH ANNOUNCES LAUNCH OF SMALL BUSINESS CENTER IN EAST BOSTON

Eight small business workshops with Spanish interpretation will be offered in partnership with over a dozen business support organizations

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Office of Economic Development have launched the Small Business Center in East Boston, beginning a seven week residence at the East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library (365 Bremen St., East Boston). First launched by Mayor Walsh this past summer in Mattapan, the second installment of the Small Business Center will offer eight unique and free small small business workshops in partnership with more than a dozen leading business service organizations.

"After a successful launch in Mattapan, I am proud to have the Small Business Center open its doors in East Boston," said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. "Boston's small businesses and neighborhood commercial districts are the backbone of our communities, and I will continue to support entrepreneurs and small business owners with expert and streamlined guidance."

In the first installment of the Small Business Center, over 200 small business owners and entrepreneurs attended nine workshops and coaching sessions hosted by the Mayor's Office of Economic Development, and in partnership with business support organizations and experts retained through the on-site technical assistance program.

"Generating and expanding networks of opportunity is a key step in creating a healthy and thriving small business ecosystem, and the small business center will continue to reach and assist business owners and entrepreneurs in every Boston neighborhood," said John Barros, Chief of Economic Development. "We are eager to build on the positive feedback we received from the small business community and look forward to bringing a tailored and enhanced program to small businesses in East Boston and beyond." 

Data shows that the businesses which most frequently attended workshops included food-based businesses, contracting companies, as well as retail and web-based businesses. Workshops that saw the most attendees were focused on access to capital, tips for operating a food-based businesses and guidance on winning public contracts.

"We are thrilled to be collaborating with the City of Boston and our local partners to be able to bring these fantastic opportunities to East Boston's small business owners," said Max Gruner, Executive Director, East Boston Main Streets. "A streamlined, central resource for small businesses is enormously helpful, and I look forward to continued work with Mayor Walsh's administration on growing the small business landscape in East Boston."

"The staff was very knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful, and the presenters were very approachable and friendly. The 1 on 1 services that were offered were very helpful and beneficial," said Yusuf Ali, of Mattapan United.

"I thought the office of Economic Development and small business development did a fantastic job providing these high-impact training and networking session, especially in areas where there is a huge number of demographics of color and immigration populations," said Leonard Tshitenge, a Poet, Speaker, Social Entrepreneur, Community/Youth Organizer.

The East Boston Small Business Center will offer eight workshops of high-impact professional training, networking and one-on-one coaching sessions beginning Thursday, October 19 through Thursday, December 7. Based on feedback from the small business community and prioritized in the City of Boston's first ever Small Business Plan, workshop topics range from leasing and legal guidance, to tips on accessing capital resources, to tailored advice for immigrant entrepreneurs. Spanish interpretation will be available for each workshop and coaching session.

About the Mayor's Office of Economic Development

The Economic Development Cabinet's mission is to make Boston an appealing and accessible place for working families, entrepreneurs, businesses, and investors to innovate, grow, and thrive in a way that fosters inclusion, broadens opportunity, and shares prosperity, thereby enhancing the quality of life for all Bostonians and the experience for all visitors. Learn more on their website.

About Boston Main Streets

Boston Main Streets provides funding and technical assistant to 20 neighborhood-based Main Streets districts throughout the City of Boston, and has served as a national model for urban areas seeking to revitalize neighborhood commercial districts including Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee, Detroit, New Orleans, Seattle and Portland, Oregon. Boston Main Streets continues to empower individuals in the small business sector to have a direct role in the economic health, physical appearance, and development of their own community.