Notes from the Field #12

Hear from 2019 Social Innovator, Boston Youth Wrestling!
Next Generation of Coaches: BYW's Coaches in Training (CIT) students!
Updates from Our Portfolio Organizations 

This issue of Notes from the Field is the second of a two-part series on Youth Voices, which aims to amplify the voices of young people connected to SIF’s Social Innovator organizations. The young people featured discuss a wide range of topics, including their experiences with school amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, how they have remained engaged in their organizations, and what it means to be Black in America today. Part two features Coaches in Training (CIT) students from Boston Youth Wrestling, a 2019 Social Innovator.

Boston Youth Wrestling, a 2019 Social Innovator

Boston Youth Wrestling (BYW) uses wrestling as a tool and motivator to teach youth to successfully overcome socio-economic challenges that lead to educational gaps, poor health, and negative community relationships, imparting skills such as self-reliance, discipline, and commitment to others that apply on the mat, in school, and beyond. BYW’s model combines mentorship, academic support, and rigorous training to empower students and build their self-esteem. In response to COVID-19, BYW quickly pivoted to provide meals and other needs for families and continued programming by purchasing personal equipment and offering virtual workouts for its youth. More recently, the organization partnered with Margaret Wright Community garden to deliver a new garden project, where BYW youth can learn about the importance of nutrition, eating healthy, and creating recipe books based on their produce.

BYW has seen an increase in youth participation for a variety of online and summer programs. The youth program, Up2Us Sports, created a YouTube series titled “Young Voices,” featuring Program Coordinator Addison Ray and three BYW wrestlers, Malcolm, Michael, and Malaky. In its first episode, moderated by Addison, the conversation primarily focused on school during COVID-19, as well as how the teens plan to stay engaged with BYW. Malcolm discussed how the transition to online learning was abrupt and disjointed, and how many youth feel left in the “dark” in regards to plans for the new school year; Michael expanded on this by explaining how students who experience difficult home lives may face additional challenges in learning effectively while remote. While all three agreed that staying motivated inside and out of the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging, as well as stressful, Malaky shared how he is focusing on feeling more grateful for his support system and opportunities in his life. 

Malcolm, Michael, and Malaky also participated in the Coaches In Training (CIT) program, which entailed socially distanced activities and health checks for youth involved. All three enjoyed the work experience and leadership development opportunities offered by the program. Michael added that this was his first work experience being a CIT, and that really made his summer interesting. In order to support young people during COVID-19 and beyond, Malaky recommended adults check in on their emotional health, and encouraged them to ask their young people how they can best support them. A mantra that Malcolm focuses on is: "Actively make each day better than the last and to prioritize self-care!"

Unlike any other program year, the students in this CIT summer program were challenged on many fronts but chose to focus on how they could develop the CIT program (i.e. worked on a community gardening initiative, built a business, etc.) and serve their families during the pandemic. About 95% of the youth used their earnings to help their family financially through buying groceries, paying bills, and purchasing other necessities. Now that they have completed the program, 100% of CIT youth are eligible to work anywhere in the country as a National Coach because of the required certifications to participate in the summer programming. BYW acknowledges the exceptional performance of youth in this program and is preparing to offer more work opportunities, most of which are contingent on funding. With additional resources, BYW can expand the CIT program to be year-round so that the current CIT's can continue to grow and earn income.

Donations to BYW can help in the following ways: 

  • $45,000 - supports school year employment for 15 youth
  • $22,500 - enables the purchase and delivery of tangible materials for 150 youth
  • $10,000 - Provides 20 computers to students who require more than Chromebooks/tablets to succeed
  • $5,000 - Supports 12 CIT founding youth board members and their business, ‘The Hungry Wrestler.’ This fund would cover the cost of trademark, website, branding, materials for business packaging, and delivery

Make a donation here

For more information or questions, please contact Bior Guigni (she/her/hers) at

SIF News & Updates 
Register for our Social Issue Talks Today! 

Our Social Issue Talk Series is BACK, and this around, we are convening virtually on Zoom! This event is open to all funders and community leaders in our social impact community who are interested in hearing from select Innovators in the 2020 Social Innovator cohort about the latest trends, best practices, and exciting innovations across a variety of fields. 

The first virtual event on October 22, features Julia Mejia, City Councilor At-Large, City of Boston, and Boston HERC (Higher Education Resource Center), a 2020 Social Innovator.

Learn more here

View Notes from the Field #11

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