Celebrations For Good

2019 Social Justice event

2024 Community Advocacy Awards

Each year our Community Advocacy Awards celebrate passionate nonprofit leaders and organizations focusing on the most critical needs in the communities Eastern serves.

This year we honored leaders and organizations working to enrich Early Childhood Development (ECD) – crucial infrastructure that builds stronger communities by supporting healthy development of our children, more economic opportunity for our families, and stronger workforce competitiveness for our region. ECD is one of the Foundation’s core strategy areas helping to advance economic inclusion and mobility – especially in our area’s historically underserved communities.

We celebrate these innovative, caring child-and family-centered champions and their teams for the exceptional work and advocacy they do!

2024 Community Advocacy Awards: Early Childhood Development

Kate Barrand kneels with a proud child and holds up their diploma for graduation

Horizons for Homeless Children

Kate Barrand, President & CEO
Horizons for Homeless Children

“High quality early education is fundamental to leveling the playing field in our country.”

Horizons for Homeless Children (Horizons) is on a mission to end family homelessness, an especially stressful and traumatic situation when children are involved. Horizons works to improve the lives of young homeless children in Massachusetts and to help their families succeed by providing high-quality early education, opportunities for play and comprehensive family support services. One of their flagship programs installs child-friendly rooms in family homeless shelters across Massachusetts, providing a safe and caring space for children to connect, play and grow. Today, Horizons operates one of the highest quality early education programs in the state, serving 225 children with a deep emphasis on STEM education.

Two care providers help children in a garden

Neighborhood Villages

Lauren Birchfield Kennedy, Co-President
Sarah Siegel Muncey, Co-President
Neighborhood Villages

“An accessible, inclusive childcare system is entirely possible, and we have no time to wait let’s work together to develop innovative solutions for the challenges that children, parents, and educators face.”

Neighborhood Villages’ work centers around one central idea: the current state of childcare isn’t working for anyone — families, providers or educators. We’ve forced parents to bear the full cost of care, resulting in many families struggling to find appropriate and affordable solutions so they can work, which in turn, denies children equal access to early education and limits family income. The Neighborhood, Neighborhood Villages’ program partners with five early learning centers in Boston to pilot, test and transform early education and care delivery for children, families, providers and educators. They are re-imagining access to childcare as a critical driver of employment opportunity, financial security and economic mobility — setting every child and family up to thrive.

A father smiles at the camera with his young sons

Families First

Sue Covitz, Executive Director
Magda Rodriguez, Senior Director of National Strategy
Families First

“Although being a parent or a guardian is one of the most influential roles a person can have in a child's life, it is one of the least supported and recognized in our society. We believe all parents have the power to shape their children’s future and make their communities even stronger.”

For 35 years, Families First has collaborated with parents to amplify their power as they navigate the diverse challenges of raising children. Their signature programs not only support and educate parents, but also build important infrastructure so parents can take what they know and have learned, and work directly with their communities to positively affect change with other children and families and engage more effectively with local agencies. Today, Families First provides Boston’s most comprehensive model for early childhood parenting education, family engagement and parent leadership.

Children sit at a cafeteria table and gives thumbs up to the camera

YMCA of Great Nashua

Mike Lachance, CEO
YMCA of Greater Nashua

“It is paramount to nurture every child’s cognitive, social, physical and emotional growth especially in the first six years of life to help them build a healthy and thriving future.”

A lasting and positive fixture in Southern New Hampshire for decades, the YMCA of Greater Nashua believes providing trusted, accessible daycare and early education opportunities for young children is foundational for all children, helping build confident, healthy, successful families. In their Early Education program, teachers nurture each child’s cognitive, social, physical and emotional growth through guided self-discovery and experiential learning. The Y deeply understands that by providing strong and caring support for our youngest residents and their families, they have a better chance of building economic and social equity, as well as intergenerational mobility.

A child proudly shows their mom their report

Children's Services of Roxbury

Sandra M. McCroom, President & CEO
Children's Services of Roxbury

“We must pour into our children hope, confidence, opportunities for positive exposure, and the belief that they are worthy to create a good life. A life that they, not systemic racism, define.”

Children’s Services of Roxbury (CSR) is celebrating 50 years of providing peace of mind for children and families through high-quality affordable childcare programs and numerous crucial wraparound services that help youth and families build on their strengths and support their goals. CSR is the only Black-specialized provider of children’s behavioral health services in Massachusetts and one of the state’s largest Black-run nonprofit organizations. Their programs focus on breaking the cycle of systemic racism for future generations and empowering children and families on their journeys from poverty to stability and wealth-building.

Educators stand together and advocate for high-quality child educators

Clarendon Early Education Services, Inc.

Margaret McDonald, CEO
Clarendon Early Education Services, Inc.

“The heroines and heroes of our licensed Family Childcare programs who open their doors every day to serve families and children are making vital contributions to the field of early education and care."

Clarendon has been supporting the growth of childcare opportunities for children, families and providers for the past 45 years — profoundly impacting the health, wellness and education of thousands of children in the greater areas of Lowell, Lawrence, Lynn, Springfield and Boston. Clarendon’s commitment to children and families is to provide high quality, safe, nurturing, culturally sensitive care environments that support working parents and offer learning experiences for children to explore their interests and strengths and build a strong foundation for a positive future. Clarendon also supports licensed, professional educators in establishing home-based childcare businesses.

A toddler is amazed as they dip a piece of cotton in blue paint

The Community Group

Maria Gonzalez Moeller, CEO
The Community Group

“High quality, accessible and affordable early childhood development impacts the stability and financial health of our families, our communities, and our economy it also helps sustain our invaluable early childhood development workforce.”

The Community Group (TCG) began as the Community Day Care Center of Lawrence, a preschool with enrollment of 20 children. Over the last 50 years, it's grown into a multi-faceted agency providing high-quality education and development programs for very young children. In their Infant/Toddler Center at Lawrence High School, TCG provides nurturing, developmentally appropriate care for children of teen parents who are attending school and working high school/GED graduates. TCG also delivers training and professional development for educators, runs the Community Day Charter Public School and helps families access the essential care they need to build happy and healthy lives.

Strategies for Children advocates stand together at the base of a wide ornate staircase

Strategies for Children

Amy O'Leary, Executive Director
Strategies for Children

“I have witnessed incredible personal and professional transformations in early educators as they come to recognize and claim the power they have as advocates and experts.”

Strategies for Children advocates on a broad scale to ensure that Massachusetts and its community members invest the resources needed for all young children to access high-quality early education and care programs. Their signature advocacy initiatives, which include The 9:30 Call, The Early Childhood Agenda and the Advocacy Network, convene thousands of individuals and organizations who have a vested interest in ECD to connect, share and develop action steps to build programs and access that prepare children and their families for success in school and life.

Chamber members gather around a large table to discuss local organizations

Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce

Noëlle Pina, Chief of Staff
Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce

“High quality early education is fundamental to leveling the playing field in our country.”

The Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce includes over 1,000 employer and 15,000 employee members. It advances ECD “over the bridge” as a leader in the Common Start Coalition, by establishing an Early Education & Childcare Taskforce — including business leaders, childcare providers and EEC employees; and in creating a Childcare Grant program that helps new care centers open their doors. The organization also advocates for more ECD public investment, resulting in an extra $1.6 M being allocated to Chatham, Dennis, Harwich, Truro and Wellfleet for early education in 2023.

Jeri reads a picture book to a group of small children gathered in front of her

Boston Children’s Museum

Jeri Robinson, Advisor, Boston Children's Museum & Chair, Boston School Committee
Boston Children’s Museum

“Having a fierce dedication to the children of Boston means ensuring every child has the access and opportunity to enjoy rich, early, hands-on learning. It is not only a good thing to do, but also the right of every child and every family.”

Jeri’s career-long mission of driving equity and excellence in early education, family engagement, and community service has been steadfast — during her decades at the Boston Children’s Museum, participation in up to 50 boards, and as the Chair of the Boston School Committee. With the PlaySpace exhibit at the Children’s Museum, Jeri developed one of the first prototypes for early learning family spaces which has been replicated across the world. She understands and is passionately committed to using the combination of play and learning to powerfully address the needs and aspirations of our communities — neighborhood-by-neighborhood.

A teacher sits at a table with two young students and smiles for the camera


Crystal Rountree, Chief Executive Officer

“High quality, equitable early education and Pre-K can put children ahead in reading and narrow literacy gaps.”

In 2023, Jumpstart served 13,035 children from under-resourced communities across 14 states, including Massachusetts, giving them the individualized attention and “jumpstart” they need to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Jumpstart focuses on embracing a culturally competent approach to curriculum implementation, using positive interaction and guidance strategies, valuing children’s perspectives and supporting children in meeting their highest potential. With a focus on oral language development, and in particular social emotional language skills, children who participate in the Jumpstart program make 1.5x greater gains in important literacy skills as compared with children who did not participate.

Employees stand together and proudly display blankets with positive messages

Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

Aditi Subramaniam, Associate Director of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health
Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

“We are inextricably connected with one another. This work is about addressing root causes of inequity to create just environments that foster and promote healing for children and families.”

Since 1878, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (MSPCC) has been on the forefront of innovative services and passionate advocacy to protect and promote the rights and well-being of children and families. MSPCC’s work focuses on mitigating the effects of trauma, employing two-generational approaches to improve outcomes for both children and parents. They care at the deepest levels of our youngest community members and provide crucial tools/supports to strengthen parents’ understanding and skills around their child’s wellbeing. MSPCC also works with the Massachusetts Association for Infant Mental Health (MassAIMH) to enhance, diversify and support the infant and early childhood mental health workforce.


Click here to return to the Eastern Bank Foundation homepage