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Harvard Highlights Allston Outreach at Task Force Meeting

Allston Construction
Construction on the Allston campus in January.
The Harvard-Allston Task Force, a neighborhood advisory body for issues related to Harvard’s development projects in Allston, held a meeting Monday night to update Allstonians on Harvard’s progress in providing “community benefits” and on its plans for future development in the neighborhood.

In light of the fall 2020 opening of the new School of Engineering and Applied Sciences complex in Allston, Harvard has been ramping up its involvement in the neighborhood.

Such involvement includes community outreach programs such as the Harvard Ed Portal, a service initiative in Allston which was founded in 2008 and has grown significantly since. Other programs work to connect Harvard undergraduates to Allston-Brighton students in grades 3-12 and to provide housing for low-income members of the community.

Mark Handley, director of community relations for the University, presented Harvard’s annual report on its progress in “cooperation agreements” with the city of Boston. He highlighted the inaugural Winter Market, an event which brought “over 4,000 people through the doors of the Ed Portal” to celebrate products from local vendors, as well as Arts First, Harvard’s annual festival to showcase student art, which expanded into Allston for the first time last spring.

Members of the task force had high praise for Harvard’s commitment to making these programs successful. Allston resident Tim McHale applauded the University on some of its recent projects.

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“You guys crafted an amazing project here,” he said. “I’m really surprised how much effort you put into this. I know it’s been building, but seeing this connection, I’m very impressed.”

This work can be translated to other universities pursuing similar development in areas where they are expanding, according to John A. Bruno, chair of the task force, who praised Harvard’s continued integration into Allston as a “model for other institutions in the country and world.”

Some residents said they hope to meet with Harvard’s new president, Lawrence S. Bacow.

“He’s expressed a lot of interest in Allston, he’s acknowledged a lot of the work of the task force, the IAG, etc.,” Tony P. D’Isidoro, a lifelong Allston resident, said.

Handley said in response that Bacow’s back-to-school schedule is packed with events as he begins his first year leading the University, adding that hopefully Bacow could attend an Allston event in the future.

Correction: Sept. 25, 2018

Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article misquoted Tony P. D'Isidoro. It has been updated.

—Staff writer Devin B. Srivastava can be reached at devin.srivastava@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Aidan B. Carey can be reached at aidan.carey@thecrimson.com.

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