Action for Boston Community Development

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. (ABCD)
Founded1961; 63 years ago (1961) - Boston Community Development Program (BCDP);
July 24, 1962; 61 years ago (1962-07-24) - Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD)[1][2]
FounderMelnea Cass[3]
OriginsBoston Community Development Program (BCDP) in 1961
Area served
Boston neighborhoods
Methodcentralized and neighborhood education, services, training, counseling, and advocacy; Area Planning Action Council (APAC); Neighborhood Services Center (NSC); Family Service Center (FSC)
Key people
Sharon Scott-Chandler, President/CEO
Yvonne Jones, Chairperson of the Board
$179,030,639 (funding 2018) [4]
Approximately 1,000

Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) is an anti-poverty, community development and human services organization founded in 1961 as Boston Community Development Program (BCDP) in Boston, Massachusetts and incorporated as Action for Boston Community Development in 1962, serving as a prototype for urban “human renewal” agencies.[5]

It is the largest non-profit human services agency in New England, annually serving more than 100,000 low-income Greater Boston-area residents through its central offices and a decentralized network of Neighborhood Service Centers (NSCs), Head Start centers, Family Planning sites, and Foster Grandparent sites.[6]

Every year since 1974, ABCD has a Community Awards dinner honoring people and organizations who have made significant contributions to the Boston community especially through their volunteerism.[7][8]

Citywide network of service centers[edit]

ABCD provides services to the community through a decentralized, citywide network, which includes 15 neighborhood centers.[6]

These centers are usually an Area Planning Action Council (APAC), a Family Service Center (FSC), or a Neighborhood Services Center (NSC).

The neighborhood centers include:


ABCD operates two schools for specialized populations and serve as alternative learning environments.

Leadership and organizational structure[edit]

The ABCD President/CEO provides operational and visionary leadership to ABCD, reporting to the 50-member ABCD Board of Directors. The Vice Presidents provide management covering every program and employee. Department Heads and Program Directors manage ABCD programs. Neighborhood Directors oversee operations in the many neighborhood-based centers.


  • 1961. Boston residents, with support from Mayor John F. Collins and the Permanent Charity Fund (now called The Boston Foundation), established the Boston Community Development Program (BCDP) to improve quality of life for city residents.
  • 1962. BCDP was incorporated as Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), a prototype for urban “human renewal” agencies (such as Community Action Agencies), with initial funding of $1.9 million from the Ford Foundation. Community activists, including Melnea Cass,[3] founded ABCD.
  • 1964. Congress passed the Economic Opportunity Act as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society campaign and its War on Poverty. The City of Boston designated ABCD as its official anti-poverty agency. ABCD established a neighborhood-based Area Planning Action Council (APAC) system to manage 11 target neighborhoods of acutely concentrated poverty.[5][14]
  • 1967. ABCD started the Urban College Program[15] to meet the educational, employment and career development needs of the adult community. This was a collaboration with major Boston area colleges and universities which enabled men and women over the years to earn academic credits toward undergraduate and graduate degrees while still acquiring job-related skills.[16]
  • 1973. ABCD and three other community action agencies filed a successful class action suit to prevent United States President Richard Nixon from abolishing the Office of Economic Opportunity.[5]
  • 1982. ABCD received an award received from United States President Ronald Reagan for the private sector initiative in the ABCD/Shawmut Bank/Bank of New England Training Program.[5]
  • 1993. The Massachusetts Board of Higher Education gives a charter as a degree-granting institution of higher education to the Urban College of Boston, a two-year college, set up by ABCD.
  • 2006. The Urban College of Boston received continued accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), Inc. Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.[16]
  • 2009. Following the death of long-time president and CEO, Robert M. Coard (who had worked for ABCD since 1964 and was its Executive Director since 1968),[17] ABCD's board of directors named John J. Drew as Coard's successor. Prior to his accepting the top post, Drew had served for more than 20 years as ABCD's Vice President.[18][19]


ABCD runs a variety of programs for individuals and families living in the City of Boston. The agency's stated goal through these programs is to "meet needs, empower individuals and families, and strengthen communities."[20] These programs include Career Development, Charitable Campaigns, Early Child Care & Education, Elder Services, Financial, Food Pantries, Fuel Assistance/Energy Conservation, Health Services, Housing & Homelessness Prevention, Immigration Services, Youth Development.

Selected program descriptions[edit]

Head Start[edit]

ABCD Head Start and Children's Services is the largest early childhood provider in Boston, and is among the top three early childhood providers in the state [21]

ABCD Head Start and Children's Services is a family development program that serves pregnant women, children from birth to age five, and their families. The Head Start programs that ABCD runs are child-focused and designed to provide opportunities and services to low-income children and families of Boston.[22]

Fuel Assistance[edit]

ABCD Fuel Assistance helps more than 24,000 low-income households in Boston, Brookline and Newton as well as residents of the Mystic Valley Cities, Towns of Malden, Medford, Everette, Melrose, Stoneham, Winchester and Woburn pay fuel bills during the heating season.[23] During the 2008 season, the Fuel Assistance program was able to expand eligibility requirements thanks to increased federal and state funding, up to a family of four with an income of $53,608 being eligible for some assistance.[24]


ABCD's SummerWorks program, started in 1965, found jobs for 600 people between the ages of 14 and 24 during the summer of 2018. Participants receive guidance, comprehensive work readiness and life skills workshops ranging from resume writing, financial education, conflict resolution and workplace etiquette.[25] Many of them will be placed at local non-profit organizations such as hospitals, health centers, museums, day camps, government agencies and child care centers.[26]

Front Door[edit]

ABCD’s Front Door program has more than 25,000 members. It’s an advanced technology system offering an innovative approach to providing services — maybe more than the one you came in for. Members hold cards which make it easier to access a full range of ABCD services in Boston, Malden, Everett, Medford and several surrounding towns. Improving electronic referrals, eligibility screening, and other functions are important aspects of this initiative, with the goal of helping you and your family feel less stress and more hope.[27]

Field of Dreams[edit]

Action for Boston Community Development with great support from the Boston Red Sox hosts its summertime fundraiser, Field of Dreams at Fenway Park to benefit Greater Boston’s at-risk and underprivileged youth through the ABCD SummerWorks program. Teams – composed of financial, health, law, commercial, and other businesses or private groups – play ball on Boston’s historically famous diamond field, fulfilling a true baseball fanatic’s dream to pitch off the mound in Fenway Park or swing a homerun hit over the Green Monster. Thanks to the generosity and a treasured partnership with the Boston Red Sox, the unique fundraising event allows baseball amateurs and enthusiasts a rare and extremely fun opportunity to dream like a kid, play on an official MLB field, and sponsor an influential program that will help build a youth in-need’s sense of responsibility and community.[28]

Hoop Dreams[edit]

Hoop Dreams is a fundraising event co-founded by the great Boston sportswriter Bob Ryan and Coach Doc Rivers. Generous Boston businesses are getting their game on and recruiting teams to play at ABCD’s Hoop Dreams, a unique charity basketball tournament played on the legendary TD Garden parquet. They get to live out a fantasy – drive the lane or make that three-pointer at the buzzer – while making a huge impact on the lives of young people in need.[29]


  1. ^ "About ABCD - Action for Boston Community Development - Nonprofit". Archived from the original on January 16, 2019. Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  2. ^ "ABCD Homepage". ABCD Action for Boston Community Development. Retrieved April 8, 2023.
  3. ^ a b "On This Day: June 19, 1968: Melnea Cass" Archived November 26, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Mass Moments, Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities. "She was a charter member of Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), which helped people displaced by urban renewal."
  4. ^ "Homepage - ABCD Annual Report - ABCD Boston". ABCD Annual Report. Retrieved April 8, 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d "ABCD History", ABCD website (archived 2008)
  6. ^ a b "ABCD Homepage - Action for Boston Community Development". ABCD Action for Boston Community Development. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  7. ^ ABCD Community Awards Dinner Archived February 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine - ABCD website
  8. ^ ABCD 2010 Community Awards Dinner - website (archived 2011)
  9. ^ "Kennedy Center - Charlestown, MA". John F. Kennedy Family Service Center. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  10. ^ "Ostiguy | Boston's Recovery High School". Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  11. ^ "William J. Ostiguy High School -Action for Boston Community Development". ABCD Action for Boston Community Development. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  12. ^ "Home University High School - UHS Boston - ABCD". UHS Boston. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  13. ^ "University High School - Action for Boston Community Development". ABCD Action for Boston Community Development. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  14. ^ "Profile: Senator Edward M. Kennedy", Vote USA
  15. ^ "Home - Urban College of Boston". Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Urban College of Boston History". Archived from the original on July 20, 2011. Retrieved April 8, 2023.
  17. ^ Lawrence, J.M., "Robert Coard; as ABCD leader with ‘golden touch,’ fought poverty for half century", The Boston Globe, November 5, 2009
  18. ^ "Robert Coard: Obituary", WBUR radio, November 4, 2009
  19. ^ "John Drew Is New President/CEO at ABCD; Robert Coard Dies",, November 5, 2009
  20. ^ "ABCD All Services - Action for Boston Community Development". ABCD Action for Boston Community Development. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  21. ^ "Why Head Start?" Archived April 1, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Boston Head Start website
  22. ^ "Head start & Early Head start - Action for Boston Community Development". ABCD Action for Boston Community Development. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  23. ^ "Fuel Assistance (LIHEAP) - Action for Boston Community Development". ABCD Action for Boston Community Development. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  24. ^ "ABCD's Fuel Assistance Program Expands Cap", My Dorchester, February 27, 2009
  25. ^ "SummerWorks". ABCD Action for Boston Community Development. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  26. ^ "Applications Available for ABCD Summer Jobs" Archived July 14, 2011, at the Wayback Machine,, Thursday, February 11, 2010
  27. ^ "Front Door - ABCD - Action for Boston Community Development". Archived from the original on January 23, 2019. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  28. ^ abcd-admin (August 1, 2017). "ACTION FOR BOSTON COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT'S 20TH ANNUAL FIELD OF DREAMS". ABCD Action for Boston Community Development. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  29. ^ abcd-admin (August 7, 2018). "COACH DOC RIVERS AND COACH BRAD STEVENS HOST 8 TH ANNUAL ABCD HOOP DREAMS AT TD GARDEN". ABCD Action for Boston Community Development. Retrieved May 31, 2019.