Multigenerational Group Tackles Challenges in Boston’s School System

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The issue of equity is not low-hanging fruit... This month's mini-hack brought together community members of diverse backgrounds with a stake in the same mission— the betterment of the Boston public school system. It is no secret that with such expansive regional jurisdiction, issues of student allocation, school quality, and coordination of the two arise. The waitlisting system— albeit stressful— has gotten the job done for most Boston residents in the past, but for the few students who fall through the cracks every year, it has become imperative for school administrators to seek out a solution. Educators, BPS students, parents, and community members engaged in unrelenting dialogue, considering every step of the student and parents' journey and all possible bottlenecks from transportation to institutional transparency to perceptions of school quality.…
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Teen Sells $30M Company to Yahoo!

Teen Sells $30M Company to Yahoo!

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Nick D’Aloisio is 17 years old and still in high school. He is also the inventor of an algorithm that summarizes long-form news articles into shorter reads for smartphone users. He recently sold his company, Summly, to Yahoo! for an estimated $30 million. Quick success? I’d say so, and D’Aloisio would agree: “When I founded Summly at 15, I would have never imagined being in this position so suddenly”, says D’Aloisio in a statement posted on summly.com. Since the sale of Summly, there has been a flurry of articles about D’Aloisio and his success as a teen entrepreneur. But, if you think that Summly is going to become as ubiquitous as Facebook, don’t bother downloading the app just yet. Effectively, Yahoo! will shut down the Summly app. According to Yodel Anecdotal (The Official Yahoo! Blog),…
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March Mini-Hack Recap

March Mini-Hack Recap

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Last week, McCall Middle School provided Youth CITIES with another rockstar student to present at the Youth CITIES Monthly Mini-Hack. Seventh-grader Vara Mathiyalakan shared his vision for Project N.E.A.H.R. (Nuerological Electro-chemical-controlled Artificial Humanoid Robot). Got all that?? Vara's project seeks to combine some cutting-edge technologies to allow an average person to control a humanoid robot using their thoughts alone. Inspired in part by this 60 Minutes video, he proposes to enhance augmented reality glasses (like Google Glass, for example) and incorporate developments in neuroscience to communicate with a robot. **To respect the intellectual property rights of Vara and Project N.E.A.H.R., this blog cannot share images of the designs presented during the Mini-Hack.** This month's Mini-Hack featured small group discussions, which were lively and generated great ideas for Project NEAHR to…
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2013 March-to-May Bootcamp Kicks Off

2013 March-to-May Bootcamp Kicks Off

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Last Thursday (March 7th), Boston City Councilman and Youth CITIES Board Member Tito Jackson emceed the 2013 Kickoff for Youth CITIES’ flagship program, March-to-May Bootcamp. Students participating in this year’s bootcamp got a chance to meet each other, our team of mentors, and some VIPs in the Youth CITIES community, such as Board Members and sponsors. The Kickoff featured a panel discussion with the following friends of Youth CITIES: Margaret Efthim, Youth CITIES Bootcamp alumna and Founder of Ready, Set, Golf Alex Finkelstein, General Partner at Spark Capital and Youth CITIES Board Member Greg Selkoe, Founder of Karmaloop.com and Youth CITIES Board Member Varun Solan, entrepreneur and advisor for Community Work Services   Energy built up at the Kickoff carried over to the first Saturday session with instructor Dan Ross, CEO of Promisec,…
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High School Runners – Adidas Wants You!

High School Runners – Adidas Wants You!

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Attention High School Students: If you are highly creative, enthusiastic, and expressive, if you are tuned-into the latest trends in shoes and clothes, Adidas wants to talk with you!!   Adidas is seeking high school students in Boston to participate in a focus group that will discuss sneaker and apparel trends. The focus group will gather on Friday, March 1st, so do not wait to respond. Contact Vicky (vicky@youthcities.org) for more information if you would like to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tell Adidas what you think!
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February Mini-Hack Recap

February Mini-Hack Recap

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This month, Allyson Allen visited the Mini-Hack and presented a problem relating to her work for the City of Cambridge. As Employment Planning and Development Director in the Office of Workforce Development, Allyson works with many nonprofit and community organizations to help young people (age 14 and up) find meaningful work and internship opportunities that will develop their skills and connect them with potential future employers. Allyson came to the Mini-Hack seeking to brainstorm ways for businesses to become more involved with young people through recruitment activities, building meaningful relationships, and going beyond “plans for outreach”. This month, the Mini-Hack tried to apply a problem-solving methodology adapted from IDEO’s human-centered approach to design thinking. We began by brainstorming wild ideas individually and, then, collaborating to build off of those ideas.…
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Kickstarter Musing #2

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I cannot believe that it is  already February!  Last December, I had a Kickstarter campaign for an entrepreneurial endeavor of mine, and I mentioned that I was going to recap the top 5 things I’ve learned from my experience.  I had written one reflection right before the holidays, and decided that it would be better to reflect on the others right after the holidays.  So....it’s a little later than “right after the holidays”, but here’s reflection #2.  Again, these are just my musings from my own Kickstarter experience.  They are not meant to be advice to apply to other Kickstarter projects.  Even though Kickstarter has become quite popular as a way to raise funds for a product idea, it is still a relatively new concept to the general public, and…
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Yes, Knowledge is Power…but, which school did you attend?

Yes, Knowledge is Power…but, which school did you attend?

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Earlier this week, I read a blog on the Huffington Post that got me thinking about knowledge, access to knowledge, and education in the 21st century. (Actually, I think about these things often, but allow me this introduction;-) The blog post written by Don Tapscott was a response to discussions being held at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. For the past few years, conversations among many in education circles have centered on concerns that many, if not most, of our colleges and universities will not survive competition from the Internet. There is a great debate going on about the value of a traditional college education in today’s tech-driven environment, and we should open that discussion in the Youth CITIES community. However, with this post, I would like…
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January Mini-Hack –Live Blog–

January Mini-Hack –Live Blog–

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4:50 - Samantha Glassner is presenting the introductory PowerPoint for B.E.S.T. (Bicycle Energy Storage Technology)! 5:00 - And the discussion begins...in order to secure funding, what is our target problem? How do we sell this to funders? 5:05 - BEST was envisioned for areas (like India) where bicycle use is very heavy for transportation, industry, etc. This could be an accessory instead of a completely new bike! 5:08 - Kathy Huber is lending an experienced business voice, giving the BEST team tips for research to help flesh out a future business plan. 5:12 - After a comment about using renewable resources for manufacturing, we learned that the first lightbulb filament was made with bamboo. Thanks, Time Rowe (Founder of CIC)!! 5:18 - Steve Kurec asks if wind energy could be…
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December Mini-Hack Recap

December Mini-Hack Recap

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The December Mini-Hack (held 12/13/2012) featured a venture idea centered in the international travel industry. Our presenter's idea is to feed on travelers' love of language and offer a unique lodging/accommodation experience. Think hostel-cum-language-school. The Mini-Hack set out to discuss how such a business could be structured - who is the target market?, what is the revenue model?, where in Boston?, etc. We vetted a number of ideas, discussed risks, and came up with a number of great ideas to help the venture progress. The team assembled generated a list of operational steps to guide our presenter in navigating legal issues (like zoning and commercial real estate options) and  building interest among the target market of international undergraduate students.
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