Harvard Awards Grants to Allston Nonprofits

Allston residents cycled through the rain to the Harvard Education Portal for a bicycle maintenance workshop hosted by the CommonWheels Bicycle Co-Op Friday afternoon.

CommonWheels—an Allston-based bicycle collective dedicated to fostering a community of cyclists—is one of ten Allston based nonprofits to receive a grant from the Harvard as a part of the Harvard Allston Partnership Fund. Last month Harvard pledged to extend the HAPF, which was founded in 2009 and has granted money to 20 nonprofits, by $500,000 dollars over five years.

CommonWheels, the only new nonprofit to receive funding in 2013, received $10,000 this year.

The Co-Op started in 2011 as what Mook called part “backyard bike shop” and “part bar”. Since then, CommonWheels has set up workshops at the Allston Village farmer’s market, run entirely by volunteers.

According to its president and founder Galen Mook, the HAPF grant has allowed CommonWheels to double in size.

“The partnership fund allows us to hit a whole new community,” said Mook. A North Allston resident, Mook said he appreciated the opportunity to expand CommonWheels into his own neighborhood.

Harvard senior associate director of community programming Mary-Helen Black said that this community improvement programming is at the heart of the HAPF.

“Harvard is a big supporter of nonprofits in Allston through a number of ways,” Black said. “There’s financial support through the Partnership Fund and programmatic support through various ventures.”

The extension of the HAPF arose out of negotiations between the University and the Allston community over the relocation of campus services to 28 Travis Street. The Travis Street project proposal was approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority last month.

In 2013, a committee of seven community members whittled twenty-two grant proposals down to ten recipients for the allocated $100,000.

HAPF advisory board member and Harvard-Allston Task Force member John Bruno told the Harvard Gazette he appreciated what the HAPF is doing for the Allston community.

“Half a million dollars in HAPF grants have already helped local organizations to survive and thrive so they could serve thousands of local residents,” he said. “The extension of this fund will continue to assist our neighbors who would otherwise go without educational and social support programs.”

Mook said that the HAPF allows CommonWheels to guarantee its ability to provide programming to the community. He plans to start a series of workshops at the Ed Portal.

“It’s not just offering services; it’s facilitating community,” Mook said. “We want to be a facilitator of community, and we’re really grateful to Harvard for allowing us to expand to North Allston.”

Staff writer Marco J. Barber-Grossi can be reached at mbarbergrossi@college.harvard.edu. Follow him @marco_jbg.

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