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Investing in Boston's Future Business Leaders Through City Awake

Posted by Allison Chase on September 21, 2016

Today’s post is written by James E. Rooney, President & CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

Boston is home to the largest proportion of young adults of any other U.S. city, and Greater Boston is known for having the most talented young workforce in the world. In fact, Mayor Walsh has called Boston’s young talent not only an economic engine for the Commonwealth, but also our city’s competitive advantage.

With thousands of students graduating each year from our colleges and Universities making up a huge part of our region’s workforce, at the Chamber, we see tapping into this young talent as crucial to ensuring the long term success of the city. Which is why in May, we announced an exciting new partnership between the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and City Awake, and added City Awake founder, Justin Kang as our new Director of Social Innovation. In this unique partnership, City Awake acts as the social innovation lab for the Chamber, seeking to mobilize and empower young adults as active stakeholders in the civic dialogue of Greater Boston.

We are excited to launch our first joint collaboration, a program called, City Awake Delegates. During this nine-month period, 600 delegates – diverse in gender, ethnicity and industry, and ranging in ages from 21 to 39 years old – will participate in a series of programs that will build community, discuss policy issues facing the Greater Boston community, formalize and prioritize potential solutions.

We knew there was a lot of talent in Greater Boston, but the response to our call for nominations was staggering. Within 10 days of the call, we received more than 1,600 nominations, a clear demonstration of the incredible and powerful network of young professionals in Boston. Delegates were nominated by a diverse coalition of 300 businesses, nonprofits, and elected officials.

City Awake Delegates will also include a Leadership Council which includes fifty of Boston’s most influential leaders.

We are kicking off the Delegates program on September 26, in conjunction with HUBweek, with a day-long summit at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute called, “Our Convention.” At Our Convention, delegates will hear a keynote address from City Council President Michelle Wu, and begin a dialogue about the future of Boston.

After Our Convention, delegates will remain engaged throughout the year, participating in a series of breakout retreats where smaller groups will dive into specific issues such as cultural vibrancy, healthcare, affordable housing, and public safety, among others. The program will culminate in a report that captures the process, discussions and findings of these retreats.

One of the best parts of this program? It’s free and flexible for delegates, thanks to our incredible partners including presenting sponsors the Barr Foundation and John Hancock. We’re also thankful to Bank of America, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for supporting this investment in the next generation of Boston leaders.

For more about City Awake and upcoming programs visit http://www.cityawake.org/