Do It Grow It Conference connects 150 youth with expertise, enthusiasm

Youth Venture teams attend volunteer-powered workshops to perfect their projects.

On Saturday, March 29, over 150 youth from Boston to Lynn to Lowell descended on Boston College for the first ever Youth Venture Do It Grow It Conference, put on by United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. Thirty-five teams of youth were represented, each one working on a social entrepreneurship project, designed to enrich their community.

“They had an amazing time,” said Natasha Noel, Director of Community Impact for United Way. “Not one person that I spoke with left saying it wasn’t worth their time. From the adult allies to the youth, everyone said the content was directly relevant to what they were doing for their projects.”

The conference featured six different workshops, led by community volunteers and experts in their respective fields. The workshops focuses on topics such as getting unstuck creatively, leveraging social media to promote your project, honing communication strategies and managing budgets and raising additional funds.

There was even a workshop offering best practices to win the Youth Venture video challenge, a short film competition that will send the winning group on a trip to India to attend a global youth conference. The event closed with a panel discussion with guest entrepreneurs Yvens Germain of Germain’s Enterprise, Ricardo Louis of Prive Parking and Malia Lazu of Future Boston.


The day started 10:00 am a with gathering of everyone, and focused on four Youth Venture teams giving “shout-outs” to their projects, informing the assembly of what they’re trying to accomplish.

From then, each youth (and adult ally, the program staff from each partnering organization) could go to three workshops, hearing presentations from staff of Shift Communications, Brown Brothers Harriman, HubSpot, Mac+Lee and 106 Studios.

“Our presenters loved the experience of sharing their expertise with young people,” said Noel. “They told me they wished they had more time because there was so much the kids wanted to learn and they wanted to teach them.”

“The Youth Venture teams are doing some incredible and innovative work,” said Susan Dickason, who presented for Fundraising 101. “I tried to convey to them just how easy fundraising can be if you can tap into your own passion to really sell the project and its impact. I had a blast and I think they did too!”


Youth Venture teams organized and pitched their projects to a panel of volunteers earlier in the year to secure funding. The entire process kicked off in October with the “Dream It, Do It” training, produced in conjunction with Design for Change, USA and hosted at Harvard Law School.

That, plus this conference, is emblematic of United Way’s decision to promote the project experience as an ongoing enrichment process, which culminates in the May 30 Youth Venture Celebration.

“These aren’t one-off experiences,” Noel says. “We want to build off that initial exposure from October and create opportunities for students to grow from it.”