More than 200 members of the Harvard, Allston-Brighton, and Boston communities joined on Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of the Harvard Ed Portal's new location at 224 Western Ave. in Allston.
The Ed Portal’s new “iStudio” and common space will host performing arts events, workforce development activities, and a Harvard faculty speaker series tied to HarvardX course offerings as part of its “HarvardX for Allston” educational initiative. In addition, it will continue to offer mentoring and educational programming for children in the new space, which is located next to the Harvard ceramics studio.
The new facility and extended programming are central parts of the University’s community benefits package, which includes $8.3 million for a “suite of transformative projects” including the Ed Portal.
University President Drew G. Faust and Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh spoke at the event, characterizing the Ed Portal as the next step in the partnership between Harvard and the City of Boston.
“This is where the emerging Harvard campus meets the Allston neighborhood, and it’s a place where the same spirit of discovery and partnership that inspires students and faculty in our classrooms and our labs can enliven activities here,” Faust said.
Walsh agreed with Faust, adding that he hoped the facility would make the idea and the institution of Harvard accessible and “in reach” for every Boston resident.
“Growing up, a Harvard to me [was] a place where people went and got a great education and went on to do great things—they became presidents and kings and prime ministers,” he said. “A Harvard [today] is for every single kid in our neighborhood, an opportunity for them to grow.”
In an opening speech at the celebration, Ed Portal Faculty Director Robert A. Lue emphasized that the Ed Portal’s offerings were for all community residents, regardless of age or educational level.
Music professor Thomas F. Kelly, who lectured at the event on the premiere of Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring,” gave a sneak peek of an upcoming online version of his popular course “First Nights” that will be offered through edX.
Community members praised the open and modern design of the new building, as well as the new set of opportunities available to residents.
“[The new facility] expands on already existing good work, and I can’t imagine that any kid in Allston wouldn’t be excited to do after-school programs here...and understand that education is about being creative,” said Doris Sommer, a romance language professor at Harvard who has trained Ed Portal mentors in creative literacy projects. “It’s just a great moment.”
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