By: Feven Yohannes
This past summer, I worked as a Program Intern for GreenLight Fund Boston. This summer proved to be an unforgettable experience. Not only because of the virtual way in which work was conducted but because of the daily dialogue that occurred on COVID-19 and racial inequities and the impact it had on my daily work. I had the opportunity to work on a variety of projects including landscape analysis, researching different issue areas and virtual models for our sprint selection, quantitative data analysis, as well as some racial equity historical research in the city of Boston.
The work that I did allowed me to develop my qualitative and quantitative analysis skills, which is something that I believe I could apply to any position or sector in my future career. One of the most fascinating aspects of my internship was helping with Boston’s sprint selection cycle, a shorter investment cycle that particularly focused on the consequences that COVID-19 has had on communities. My responsibilities included researching a variety of topics relating to COVID-19 and honing in on four prominent issue areas in Greater Boston including food security, virtual learning, early childhood care, and mental health. With these in mind, I scouted potential nonprofits that could replicate in Boston and be a part of our sprint selection cycle. That experience was incredibly valuable to me because of the direct impact it would have on the people in my own community, as a Boston native. The decision to implement a sprint selection cycle was one rooted in an innovative spirit, a desire to change business as usual to meet an immediate need of the communities we serve.
This theme extends beyond this specific project, but also to GreenLight’s overall push to reflect on the history of the white-dominated philanthropic sector that they operate in and how they are actively serving as an anti-racist organization. Within this, I personally believe that GreenLight has amazing capabilities to truly enact change focused on racial equality. It was great to see these conversations at the forefront of every meeting and truly allowed me to reflect on the future of GreenLight, its model, and the continuous impact that GreenLight will have. The potential for GreenLight to partner with organizations that are directly changing systemic racial issues as well as organizations that help to remedy the effects of systemic problems is a future that I think could transform the philanthropic landscape. It was exciting to take part in a company that was at the pinnacle of exploring a variety of pressing issues and creative ways to solve them, and most importantly it was amazing to do work to help the people of Boston.