City Awake, the next-generation platform of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, is pleased to announce Fierce Urgency of Now (FUN), a five-day festival featuring programming designed to highlight the experiences, challenges, and possibilities for millennials of color in Boston. Scheduled from September 20-25, FUN will feature more than 30 innovative events and programs that elevate the platform of next-generation leaders and organizations who are working to reframe the discussion around the city’s retention of millennials.
Festival programs will be hosted by various partner organizations across the city and range from a panel discussion about and featuring people of color in investment management, to a celebration of Boston’s arts and culture community, to social events such as a Red Sox game, a comedy night, and a concert at the Museum of Science Planetarium. FUN is sponsored by Allen & Gerritsen, HubSpot, the Boston Foundation, the Red Sox, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals. WBUR is the festival media partner.
“Boston’s millennial population is more diverse than ever before in our city’s history, yet our research shows us that millennials of color are having a much different experience in Boston than their white peers,” said Justin Kang, vice president of economic growth and executive director of City Awake. “This problem is not just detrimental to the perceptions of Boston as an unwelcoming place for people of color, but also to our business community and the future of our economy. Our hope is that FUN elevates and connects the businesses and people leading, serving, and enriching young people of color in Greater Boston, and continues to move the dial on addressing the issues of race and economic opportunity facing our region.”
The idea for FUN was born from the results of the 2017 “City of Millennials” report, a collaboration between Boston Indicators, the Boston Foundation and City Awake. The report identified a divergent experience for millennials of color living and working in Greater Boston, and demonstrated their disproportionate challenges dealing with affordability, overall economic security, and the ongoing narrative of Boston as an unwelcoming city for young professionals of color. The title “Fierce Urgency of Now” is inspired by a famous Dr. Martin Luther King phrase, used on at least two occasions. In his “I Have a Dream” speech, King states: “We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time […] to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.”FUN is a part of the Greater Boston Chamber’s overall economic growth initiatives aimed at increasing economic opportunity for all Greater Boston businesses and individuals. Earlier this year, the Chamber launched its groundbreaking Pacesetters program, a partnership of large and midsized Chamber member organizations who have committed to leveraging their collective purchasing power to create opportunities at scale for local enterprises of color.
“Our city’s talented, world-class workforce is truly the business community’s competitive advantage, and our Chamber members continue to emphasize the need to invest in keeping Boston a place where employers and employees want to be,” said James E. Rooney, president & CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber. “With FUN, we’re bringing together people from all backgrounds, sectors, and interests to address the challenges holding us back as a city, to create a welcoming environment for these important conversations to take place, and to have fun while we do it.”
“Allen & Gerritsen is honored to partner with the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and City Awake to empower the next generation of diverse, talented leaders and engage Boston leaders in the conversation at the inaugural Fierce Urgency of Now festival,” said Andrew Graff, CEO of Allen & Gerritsen. “Diversity of thought leads to progressive diverse ideas. Through FUN, the creativity in all of us will be ignited through imagination, openness and a willingness to challenge the status quo.”
“We’re proud to join forces with City Awake to understand the experience of millennials of color in our city as well as create a new narrative around diversity and inclusion to help shape a positive future,” said Katie Burke, Chief People Officer at HubSpot. “As a Boston-based company, we have a strong commitment not only to make HubSpot an inclusive workplace that promotes and values diversity, but also to our broader community. Creating an environment where everyone, from any background, can grow into the best version of themselves is simply the right thing to do.”
“Millennials of color are an integral and powerful part of Boston’s growing workforce,” said Red Sox Chief Marketing Officer Adam Grossman. “The City Awake initiative and FUN presents a unique opportunity to convene and engage Boston’s growing diverse talent. We are proud to partner with the Chamber of Commerce on building an even more innovative, dynamic, and inclusive BOSTON.”
“The City of Millennials report captured the opportunity we have as a vibrant, diverse city of millennials, but it also illustrated the ways in which we can squander the brilliance they offer,” said Paul S. Grogan, President of the Boston Foundation. “We have an economic and moral need to do better for millennials of color, if we want to maintain our economic strength and build a narrative about Boston as a city where people of all backgrounds can thrive.”
“As a leading biotech company looking for the best and brightest talent, we’re doing everything we can to close the opportunity gap and help inspire and equip the next generation of leaders in our industry and Boston,” said Stephanie Franklin, Chief Human Resources Officer at Vertex. “We need young people from all different backgrounds around the table, challenging ideas and learning from one another, to drive the best results for our business and the patients we serve. We’re proud to join in the Chamber’s efforts to address the challenges thatmillennials of color in our city face, and are eager to be a part of creating a welcoming, supportive environment where everyone thrives.”
About City Awake
City Awake is the leading platform for next-generation leaders in the Greater Boston area. A program of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, City Awake empowers next generation leaders through programming that builds community and fosters dialogue about the most pressing issues facing our region. Through this work, City Awake aims to deepen young professionals’ connections to the broader business and civic communities and recognize their important contributions to our economy.
About the Greater Boston Chamber
The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce is the convener, voice and advocate of our region’s businesscommunity, committed to making Greater Boston the best place for businesses and people to thrive. It helps its members and Greater Boston succeed by convening and connecting the business community; researching, developing and advocating for public policies that contribute to our region’s economic success; and providing comprehensive leadership development programs designed to grow strong business and civic leaders. Learn more at BostonChamber.com.