The Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center traces its roots to 1969, when frustrated community members wanted a say in the school the city was designing for their children in Chinatown. The neighborhood rallied to form The Quincy School Community Council and achieved what the center’s director, David Y.S. Moy, calls a major victory for Boston’s Asian-American community. In 1997, the council became the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center to reflect its expanding mission of strengthening families and communities. Today, its programs reach more than 4,000 children, teens, and adults each year.
The Acorn Child Care Center, a fully licensed preschool program, serves toddlers through kindergartners in two sites, and the Red Oak After School Program picks up for children ages 5-13. The Recreation and Youth Program offers a variety of activities for all ages, while the youth component provides leadership, enrichment, and academic opportunities for teens and young adults. The Adult English as a Second Language (AESL) Program is a vital resource for the Chinatown community, where roughly two-thirds of adult residents lack a high school diploma and one-third identify themselves as speaking little or no English.
In 1991, the center established the Family Child Care Program to help train and license individuals, mostly Chinese-speaking women, to run family child-care centers in their homes. “When the program began,” says Moy, “there were no licensed Chinese American family child-care providers in greater Boston.” Today, thanks to the Center, there are more than 30.
The center has ambitious plans for the future, such as establishing an endowment and, in 2002, working with a local community development corporation and a private developer to break ground for a major new housing development that will include a fully handicapped-accessible community center on site.
“We are a nexus point for our community,” says Moy. “We connect parents to kids, families to the community, and our community to other community groups and coalitions. We need to understand these connections, and we will continue to work to foster and deepen them.”
Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center is a 2002 Honoree of Families Count, the national honors program that recognizes organizations that are making a difference in the lives of families struggling to survive in tough neighborhoods.