Innovation Islands

Innovation Islands, our mini-grant program introduced as part of Park Anniversary celebrations, is returning for its third year! We’re excited to share updates for the 2024 season!

Boston Harbor Now worked with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the National Park Service to create a grant opportunity for local nonprofit organizations. The goal was to provide these groups with funding and free ferry service to craft their own programming on the Boston Harbor Islands that caters specifically to the communities that they serve and their unique needs and interests. From music festivals to cultural dance classes, the wide range of ideas and innovations were reflected in the applications we received.

We awarded mini-grants to twelve organizations last year and welcomed many new visitors to the Islands through exciting and innovative programming and events. Each grantee created programming that presented the Island experience in a way that told the story of that organization and supported its mission. Based on the past year’s success and the continued support from our partner organizations, we are thrilled to be able to offer the Innovation Islands Mini-Grant Program for a third year.

We look forward to supporting these amazing community organizations as we welcome them to the Boston Harbor Islands this season! Read more about our 2024 recipients below.


2024 Mini-Grant Program recipients:

3 Trolls Games & Puzzles / Fort Warren’s Treasure Quest

3 Trolls (Chelmsford, MA) carries an exciting variety of board games, jigsaw puzzles, role playing games, miniature games, and hobby supplies. Already known for their in-store gaming and virtual experiences that bring Dungeon’s & Dragons and board games to adult and child audiences alike, this summer 3 Trolls is bringing a whole new experience to life on the islands.

Fort Warren’s Treasures Quest is a game in which participants will find four puzzle stations located inside the fort at Georges Island. Open to puzzle enthusiasts and families alike, this quest will engage visitors through interactions intended to create lasting memories on the Island. Find out more information here.

A Trike Called Funk / Yabás – A Destination Celebration of Female Spirits

A Trike Called Funk seeks to create fun and engaging experiences through music and dance while also supporting local businesses and organizations who are also figuring out new ways to bring people together.

To celebrate the mythological female spirits called Yabás, participants will listen to a live DJ spin Brazilian music, join a Afro-Brazilian dance workshop, and enjoy a free-standing art display. Find out more information here!

First Teacher / Family Play Week

First Teacher is a hands-on neighborhood initiative for parents and caregivers. They aim to support toddlers’ school readiness through improving parenting practices with a non-judgmental, collaborative approach using knowledge, information, and effective strategies.

Through the Family Play Week program, First Teacher families will be able to experience a day on Spectacle Island, enjoying socialization and time to play in the water throughout the afternoons.

KeySteps Inc. / Connection Our Youth With Our Weather, Our Environment & Our World

KeySteps’ mission is to provide a comprehensive range of year round, school-based counseling and support services for at-risk youth in order to ensure that they stay in school and gain the skills and emotional resilience needed to become educated and thriving adults.

KeySteps invites Boston students to participate in the tenets of experiential learning through this program. These students will expand their understanding of the Harbor Islands by exploring the diversity of the islands and the important role they have in our future.

Mbadika / MLAB

Coming from the Kimbunda word for “idea,” Mbadika aims to foster the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs by providing resources and educational workshops to youth. By harnessing STEM, Mbadika provides opportunities for ideas and those who create them to impact our world.

This MLAB: Science of “Sustainable” Dyeing Experience will engage students, parents, and interns from Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan with the islands as a part of a program focused on demystifying the legacy of STEM in Boston.

Navigation Games / Boston Harbor Island Orienteering

Navigation Games is a non-profit on a mission to create engaging and educational outdoor experiences centered around orienteering. Orienteering is a sport where participants use a map to race to a series of locations. Navigation Games uses this sport as a way to encourage physical activity and life skill development in the youth they serve.

Navigation Games will host two activities on Georges and Peddocks Island. The first day will involve youth from Cambridge-area summer programs, and the second involves local orienteering organizations, but will be available to any visitor who is interested in joining. Find out more information here! 

New England Jazz Collaborative / Wild Music

The New England Jazz Collaborative (NEJC) seeks to increase opportunities for composers and potential audiences to connect. NEJC has cultivated a diverse community of living composers who are able to share and collaborate with each other, while simultaneously expanding the audience for jazz through their innovative programming.

Wild Music will bring Boston’s finest professional jazz musicians​ to Georges Island. Acoustic performances will capture​ and reflect the essence of th​is beautiful and ​historic island! Find out more information here!

Professionals of Color in the Environment (POCIE) & Boston Harbor Women of Color Coalition (BHWOCC) / “Network” in Nature: A Peddocks Island Adventure

Boston Harbor Women of Color Coalition (BHWOCC) and Professionals of Color in the Environment (POCIE) are working together on a dynamic, collaborative event this year. POCIE is a community of BIPOC professionals working throughout the environmental field in Massachusetts. BHWOCC is a supportive group of BIPOC women who work on the Boston Harbor Islands and in the Greater Boston area. This group connects a community of individuals interested in the welfare of our harbor, climate resilience, and engaging communities of color in green and blue spaces.

This event is intended to provide a day of networking, rejuvenation, dialogue, and professional development opportunities for BIPOC environmental professionals, community advocates, and beyond.

Pharaoh Essentials Wellness / Family WellConnect

Pharaoh Essentials Wellness provides alternative healing services that engage the mind, body, and spirit in an array of therapeutic practices such as; art, meditation, mindfulness, and reiki. Pharaoh Essentials workshops seek to promote self awareness, self-acceptance, and personal development.

FamilyWell Connect is a program designed to empower Boston-area families through holistic well-being. The event encompasses a range of activities, such as nutrition workshops, fitness sessions, and mindfulness meditations, all aimed at fostering a collective journey towards wellness. Find out more information here!

Rian Immigration Center / Learn English on George’s Island!

The Rian Immigration Center seeks to meet the needs of immigrants, refugees, and international residents on their journey to a safe, equitable, and fulfilling future. Rian offers community building opportunities, career services, legal services, education, support, and so much more.

Students from Rian Immigrant Center will engage in an English language lesson that will intentionally introduce words directly related to George’s Island. Students will participate in a variety of programming, including a scavenger hunt, lunchtime conversations in English, and a historical tour of George’s Island.

StiggityStackz Worldwide Inc / The Foundation SMMR Dance Battle on Spectacle

StiggityStackz Worldwide (SSW) has established a pathway for artists of all ages and backgrounds to develop a relationship with their body, movement, and rhythm. SSW is committed to providing the space and resources to inspire individual and community-level transformation while establishing Boston as a hub for creation and innovation within the freestyle dance scene.

This event turns Spectacle Island into the stage for The Foundation Dance Battle, featuring local vendors, live music, and guest performances. Attendees of all ages and backgrounds can participate in a day of 1 vs 1 freestyle dance battles. Find out more information here!

Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts (SEACMA) / Traditional Dance and Art 

SEACMA supports Southeast Asian immigrants, refugees, and long-term residents to meet their basic needs, overcome language and cultural barriers, successfully integrate into mainstream society, and become self-sustainable contributors in economic, social, and civic life.

Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts presents traditional and cultural dances, practiced by SEACMA’s youth, as well as a hands-on demonstration of the art of origami and henna hand painting. Participants of all ages and backgrounds are encouraged to join. Find out more information here!