Forward Fund 2015 Final Selections

The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority’s Forward Fund (the Fund) is a micro-grant program intended to reinvest development funds generated in the Kendall Square Urban Renewal Area to fund pilot projects by non-profit organizations, community groups, and small businesses across the City of Cambridge. The Fund supports specific physical improvement projects that better Cambridge’s built environment for the benefit of all the city’s residents, workers, and visitors. 

Announcing the 2015 Forward Fund grant winners:

Capital Grants ($32,100)
1. Community Art Center: Port Stories Mosaic Mural
2. Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House: Revitalization and Care of National Historic Landmark
3. Area Four Neighborhood Group: 6 Little Free Libraries (Locations TBD)
4. EMW Bookstore

Planning and Design Grants ($7,500)
5. Green Cambridge, Inc.: Social Umbrella (Location TBD)
6. Friends of the Grand Junction Path // Livable Streets Alliance // Working with Toole Design: Closing 3 Gaps on the Grand Junction Path
7. Just-A-Start Corporation: Churchill Court Vestibule Community Planning


1. Port Stories Public Art Project Mosaic Mural [Status: to be Completed Spring 2016]

Community Art Center
Non-Profit Organization 501(c)3
David Harding, primary contact
Project Location: 119 Windsor Street

The Port Stories Public Art Project Mosaic Mural leverages the Community Art Center’s innovative approach to collaborative art making to beautify the Windsor Street Community and Health Center, a centralized multi-use building located in the Port/Area IV neighborhood of Cambridge. This mural will be presented as a part of the Port Stories Public Art Project, a multi-year initiative that uses public art and arts events to connect the past and present stories of the Port/Area Four neighborhood of Cambridge.

Matching funds will be provided through the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program, Cambridge Housing Authority, Department of Early Education and Care, TMP Foundation Support, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Challenge America Grant.


General Project Schedule

July 2015 – Aug 2015 | Planning and Site Logistics; Youth Artist Training
Sep 2015 – Nov 2015 | Creation of Source Materials; Community Workshops
Dec 2015 | Mural Design
Jan 2016 – Apr 2016 | Mural Creation
June 2016 | Mural Installation and Reception


2. Revitalization and Care of National Historic Landmark, Margaret Fuller House [Status: Complete]

Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House
Non-Profit Organization 501(c)3
Barbara Kibler, primary contact
Project Location: 71 Cherry Street

The Margaret Fuller House is requesting funding to address critical structural and repair needs of their 200 year old National Historic Landmark Facility and surrounding land. The foundation mortar has seriously deteriorated over the harsh winter and with the extensive snow. Critters have eaten through cracks and burrowed into the basement of the Margaret Fuller House and into the yard and under the porches. The foundation stone and brick is in need of extensive repair and re-pointing.

Matching funds will be provided through grants and independently donated cash, supplies, and labor.


General Project Schedule

May 2015 | Review of Planned Project Activities
June 2015 | Yard Work and Flower Planting; Replacement of Wood Chips in Playground; Repair of Basketball Hoop
July 2015 | Obtain Contractor Bids
Aug 2015 | Fix Fences; Foundation and Masonry Repairs
Sep 2015 | Install Drywell


3. Six Little Free Libraries [STATUS: TO BE COMPLETED 1ST QUARTER 2016]

Area Four Neighborhood Group
Community Organization
Minka vanBeuzekom, primary contact
Barbara Kibler, Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House, 501(c)3 fiscal agent
Project Location: Locations TBD.

This proposal is to site and construct 6 “little free libraries” in specifically chosen locations in neighborhood in streets with regular foot traffic or near a passive park. The proposal will use little free library kits which can be purchased online from an organization in Wisconsin. These libraries may be sited in community gardens because of the constant activity and the possibility of combining a book and seed exchanges. Attaching a smaller waterproof box alongside the little free libraries could serve as a place for community announcements and information exchanges.

Matching funds will be provided through grants and independently donated cash, supplies, and labor.

General Project Schedule

May 2015 –June 2015 | Establish locations for libraries, styles, and specific stewards
June 2015 | Order 6 kits from Little Free Libraries, Hudson, WI; Create base and necessary supporting structure
June 2015 – July  2015 | Install libraries


4. EMW Bookstore [Status: To Be Completed 1st quarter 2016]

EMW Bookstore
Independent Small Business
David Kong, primary contact
Project Location: 934 Massachusetts Avenue

The EMW storefront is the physical home for all a variety of community programs. With full windows that face Mass Ave, the storefront serves as a transition from the exterior public space to an interior one. As the building is over 150 years old, the exterior is in significant need of beautification and activation. Additionally, the interior storefront is poorly insulated and does not contain an efficient heating or cooling system, providing little relief from extreme temperatures during the winter and summer. This project will: 1) Beautify the storefront exterior. 2) Build infrastructure for public art installations.  3) Renovate the storefront interior. 4) Establish a community library.

Mission of EMW: “EMW’s mission is to empower individuals and communities to realize their human potential through the transformative power of authentic expression. We provide innovative programming and a dynamic community space at the intersection of art, technology, and social justice.”

What EMW Does: “We are the community space of the 21st century, at the frontiers of creative placemaking. EMW is equipped with a mixed-use storefront and stage, co-working space, and forthcoming community audio studio, fab lab, and bio lab. Our Team develops and delivers cross-disciplinary community programming and events while collaborating with like-minded partner organizations to expand our collective impact.”

Matching funds will be provided by the Kong Family, LLC.


General Project Schedule

June 2015 | Storefront Interior Planning and Design
July 2015 – Aug 2015 | Purchase materials and obtain permits for storefront interior renovation
Aug 2015 | Obtain artist renderings and permits for exterior beautification; Community Library Planning and Design
Sep 2015 |Purchase materials and prepare wall for exterior beautification
Sep 2015 – Oct 2015 | Storefront Interior Renovation Construction; Storefront Art Installation Construction; Community Library Installation and Programming


Planning & Design Grants

5. Social Umbrella [Status: Complete]

Green Cambridge, Inc.
Non-Profit Organization 501(c)3
Nels Nelson, primary contact
Project Location: Location TBD

Social Umbrella concept is a circular public bench shaded by an umbrella. The more people that sit on it, the more the umbrella opens. It is powered by thin-film solar panels that form the shading element of the umbrella connected to a battery and winch in the base. Social Umbrella will be designed to create spontaneous engagement between users because it requires several people to come together to fully open the umbrella.

Green Cambridge will use the Forward Fund to create a detailed design including: materials, construction and deconstruction documentation (possibly including mobility), maintenance plan, detailed bill-of-quantity, and interactive hardware and software design. Furthermore, funds will be used to search for technology and materials partners, such as a solar panel provider. It is anticipated that Green Cambridge will submit the completed planning and design project for capital implementation funding during the next Forward Fund application round.

The design team consists of a talented experienced group including a designer from Stantec with experience in Boston and the Netherlands, a steel fabricator who is co-director of HarborArts, an engineer who designed the North Bank Bridge, and a programmer/hacker with experience in both interactive systems and as a manager of Boston Tech Poetics, a group focused on the intersection of art, code, and public involvement.


6. Closing 3 Gaps on the Grand Junction Path [Status: Complete]

Friends of the Grand Junction Path // Livable Streets Alliance // Working with Toole Design
Community Organization
John Sanzone, primary contact
LivableStreets Alliance, 501(c)3 Fiscal Agent
Project Location: 3 locations along the Grand Junction Railroad

This planning and design project involves the use of consultant Toole Design Group in the creation of conceptual designs and feasibility analyses for 3 physical improvement projects along the Grand Junction Path to fill gaps in the path’s current conceptual design. (1) An access path between Waverly Street and Fort Washington, including activation of open space at 171 Waverly Street. (2) An access path across the railroad tracks at Thorndike Street. (3) A connection between the Grand Junction Path and the Somerville Community Path at the Green Line Extension area.


7. Churchill Court Vestibule Community Planning [Status: Complete]

Just-A-Start Corporation
Non-Profit Organization 501(c)3
Lynn Sanders, primary contact
Project Location: 2505 Massachusetts Avenue

Just-A-Start will use their planning and design grant to facilitate a community planning process to inform how the small vestibule space will be repurposed to meet a public need or amenity. Funding will support staffing, outreach, and facilitation of two community meetings to be held for residents of Churchill Court and the immediate neighborhood. This process would result in a plan to redevelop this space to offer a desirable service to those most likely to utilize it. Some possible uses of the space include a micro‑community library, indoor garden, fresh produce market, or art gallery.