Community Free Access Program Report
Boston Harbor Now proudly reports that over 17,000 youth and families from Greater Boston received free and reduced-cost access to Harbor Islands and waterfront programming in 2020. With the launch of Harbor at Home, our online platform for free diverse virtual programs highlighting health, history, arts, and nature, Boston Harbor Now featured waterfront partners and reached more than 500,000 people through web and social media impressions.
Boston Harbor Now worked with the Department of Conservation and Recreation and the National Park Service to provide free and reduced cost public access to the Harbor Islands in a safe and healthy way for visitors, staff, and volunteers. This year for the first time, over 20% of public ferry passengers travelled to the Islands using Boston Harbor Now’s Community Free Access free and reduced-cost tickets.
“The annual Boston Harbor Island seasonal programming has become an important part of the East Boston community,” commented Veronica Robles, Co-founder and Director, Veronica Robles Cultural Center. “I’m so glad Boston Harbor Now figured out a way to still offer this summer programming in a safe and accommodating way. Its free access opportunities truly make the harbor, islands, and waterfront unique assets that all members of the community can enjoy together.”
This year’s free and reduced-cost access was made possible thanks to the generous support of Barr Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Boston Harbor Cruises, Boston Planning & Development Agency, Citizens Bank, Davis Family Charitable Foundation, Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation, 484 Phi Alpha Foundation, Highland Street Foundation, M&T Bank, Marion L. Decrow Memorial Foundation, Millennium Partners, P&G, REI Co-op, The Schwartz Charitable Foundation, WS Development Seaport Community Grant Program, the National Park Service, and individual donors to Boston Harbor Now.
In spite of the many challenges faced by the entire nation during the COVID-19 pandemic, Boston Harbor Now remained committed to delivering the annual island and waterfront programs that the residents of Boston have come to love and expect every summer. To adapt to state and public health COVID-19 guidance, this season featured more digital and self-led programming, along with capacity-limited in-person activities, including:
- Island Pass free access offered for 250+ nonprofit community groups
- Library Pass 2-for-1 access through 100+ regional libraries
- Half-Price Fridays in September and free kites, thanks to Highland Street Foundation
- Harbor at Home, our free new online platform for diverse virtual programs highlighting community partners and featuring programming in health, history, arts, and nature
- Free HarborFit fitness programs for the community
- Find Your Park Anywhere online programming for youth
“This year has been a challenging period for healthcare and home care workers on the frontlines,” stated Tim Foley, Executive Vice President, 1199SEIU. “We’re very thankful to Boston Harbor Now for the opportunities they provided to 1199 members and their families to visit Spectacle Island. It was a very appreciated gesture of gratitude for the sacrifices our members make every day.”
Boston Harbor Now thanks the community and donors for their generous support of the Free Access program in 2020. For more information, visit www.bostonharbornow.org.